10 Motorcycle Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Motorbike Healthy
A motorbike - be it a cruiser, scooter or moped - is one of the most practical means of transportation out there. They allow us to move through cities with heavy traffic quickly and easily, as well as the cost and maintenance being much less than that of a car. However, a motorcycle requires special attention in order to keep it in the best possible condition. This will both keep it running smoothly for yourself and maintain its second-hand value should you want to sell it in the future. In this oneHOWTO article we'll go over 10 motorcycle maintenance tips to keep your motorbike healthy and ensure it makes it last at least a few more laps round the track.
Know your motorcycle
Just like cars, motorbikes of all types should have a comprehensive annual review from a specialist. In some countries this is required by law, such as the UK where they need an annual MOT. Other countries may have laws regarding road worthiness, but they are not always very strict. This means it can be up to you to ensure the health of your vehicle.
When you do go for a checkup, it is best to take it to your trusted mechanic to check the engine and the condition of the tires and body. For our first top motorcycle maintenance tip, we strongly recommend learning about the different motorcycle engine parts and their functions to make diagnosing and preventing problems easier.
Similarly, you should learn about your motorcycle's model by reading the owner's manual. Many people enjoy spending time with like-minded individuals at a motor club. This isn't the same as joining a biker "gang", but a group of people who can talk shop and help diagnose problems can be really rewarding. Not to mention the social element can be really fun.
Change motorcycle oil
One of the most important things to remember if you want to keep your motorbike healthy is to change the oil. Specifically, a good maintenance tip is to change the oil every 5,000 or 10,000 km (3,000 to 6,000 mi), depending on the model of the motorcycle.
An oil change is normally done every year during the annual checkup of the motorbike. If your bike is new, you should follow the instructions in the manual. Note that during the summer more oil is consumed, while in the winter it'll last a little longer. The filter should also be changed regularly. Two big differences in how often you need to change the oil is the age of the bike and the type of oil you use.
More modern motorcycle engines are more efficient with oil, so they tend to last longer without an oil change. Synthetic oils tend to be more efficient also, even if they are a little more expensive. After you have read these top motorcycle maintenance tips, you can read our articles on how to check the motorbike engine oil level and how to change it.
Keep brake pads healthy
Maintaining the brake pads of your motorcycle is our next motorcycle tip and it's very important as your life may depend on their proper functioning. When the brake pads are thinner than 2 mm, it's time to change them.
Experts recommend getting the brake pads checked out every 10,000 or 15,000 km (6,000 or 9,000 mi) depending on where you live and how much you drive. If you live in a city with lots of hills, you will have to check the brake pads more often. Resting your motorcycle on an incline can be dangerous to both your bike and other people's health if your brake pads aren't in good condition.
Monitor the tires
Monitoring the tires is part of the basic maintenance for motorcycles. It is advisable to check the pressure and the grooves of the tires before beginning a journey, making sure that they do not have cracks, holes, tears or any wear that can put your safety at risk. Weather and ground conditions can affect the tires, and you should look for damage but also rot. Once the tires are worn, don't wait too long to change them.
If the tires are over-inflated, there is less contact with the road and therefore less grip. If they don't have enough air, the tire wall will be less stable to the point of braking and handling can be tricky. This motorcycle maintenance tip is to check the tire pressure regularly with a pressure gauge, but only when they have cooled down. If they have heated during the course of a ride then they will read differently.
Clean air filter regularly
If you want to keep your motorbike healthy, you should clean the air filter thoroughly every 10,000 km (6,000 mi) or so. This filter prevents dirt from entering the engine of your bike. If you live in an area you are driving through streets with a lot of dust or dirt, you should clean the air filter as often as every week. If you are out in the country with less congested air, this may need to be done less often. However, it is still a good idea to do it regularly in whichever environment you ride your motorcycle.
The liquid coolant, which protects the engine of the motorcycle during the summer heat and winter frosts, should be replaced approximately every two years. Of course, if you ride your bike often and stay out for long distances, you should change the bike's coolant more often than that.
Motorcycle coolant is made of equal parts anti-freeze and de-ionized water. A bonus top motorcycle maintenance tip is, after changing the liquid or refilling it, to use the radiator hoses. This will expel excess air.
Lubricate the forks
Fork oil helps dampen the bike more efficiently, preventing it from being affected by bumps or unevenness in the road. The forks are incredibly important for ride-ability, especially over long distances. Fork oil also lubricates all components of the bike that are used when it is in motion, so taking care of it is a very important part of any motorcycle maintenance routine.
You should check the fork oil regularly and make sure to replace it during your annual mechanical checkup or do it yourself at home if you have the skills.
Check bike chain tension
The bike chain should not be too slack and should be well oiled. It is important to check the chain tension to prevent excessive wear and rough transmission and gear changes. This is quite a durable component; a bike chain can usually withstand up to 30,000 km (18,000 mi) without needing to be replaced. Here you can find more details on how to clean a motorcycle chain and how often to replace it.
During the annual checkup, a good motorcycle maintenance tip is to ask the mechanic to check the status of the chain of your motorcycle. They can then tell you if it's time to change it or whether it is too slack and needs tightening. If you're checking the tension yourself, do so by placing a load or weight on the bike. When you're on it, your weight makes the pressure greater.
Replace the motorcycle battery
A motorcycle battery usually has a shelf life of about two years, after which time you should replace it. You should only do this after a review by your mechanic. Remember that during the winter the battery should be recharged regularly to prevent frost from affecting it. Charging it regularly before it becomes too empty is also a good way to extend the battery's life. How long a motorcycle battery lasts will also depend on the make and quality of the manufacturer. A cheap battery will not last as long as a quality product.
Another additional motorcycle maintenance tip is to check the spark plugs every very 6,000 and 12,000 km (4,000 to 8,000 mi). Poor spark plug performance can often cause a few problems for bikes.
If you have a new bike and you follow the instruction manual, it should last for a long time in good condition. Our last motorcycle maintenance tip is to stay vigilant. Keep an ear out for when your engine is making unfamiliar noises or if its feel changes when you ride it. If you remember our first top tip was to read up and learn about your bike, but once you do you need to put that knowledge to good use.
Don't forget to take your motorbike to the mechanic once a year and drive carefully. Always go to the mechanic if you notice that your motorbike has any issues, otherwise it may not last as long as it should.
To find out more top motorcycle maintenance tips, check out the following articles:
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