General Tips
General Motorcycle Maintenance Tips to keep your motorcycle at peak condition.

 
Keep your ride looking and running like a classic 

General Motorcycle Maintenance

Modern bikes require less maintenance than they did in the 60s and 70s.
Motorcyclists should be able to do at least basic maintenance checks on their bikes.

The more care and maintenance you give a bike the longer it will last. Performing routine inspections on your motorcycle will also help you spot potential issues before they become problems.

 

Things to Check Regularly

  • Oil
  • Battery
  • Chain or drive shaft
  • Fuel & filter

 

Tires:

Tip: Keep a low pressure tire gauge (0psi - 80psi) in your bike tool bag at all times. Try to remember to check your tire pressure every time you fill up with gas.

Keep your tires correctly inflated. A tire that is very under-inflated generates a lot of heat which can lead to a blowout. Tires that run too hot also wear out more quickly. The most common motorcycle breakdown is due to tire damage.

Replace your tires sooner rather than later. If tread depth is 1-2mm it is time to replace your tires. Take a tip from the mad sport bikers and the canyon racers - they never skimp on their tires as they are often all that stands between them and the Pearly Gates.

 

Brakes:

Tip: Brake fluid absorbs moisture over time and becomes less effective. Replace brake fluid every one to two years and your brakes will perform the best they can.

Motorcycles have up to two brake fluid reservoirs, one for the front, usually found on the handlebars and one for the back. Both should be checked regularly. Topping off should only be done from a new, sealed bottle as brake fluid tends to absorb moisture over time. Beware - brake fluid, if spilt on paintwork eats right through to the bare metal.

Also check the thickness of the brake pads. If you allow them to go right down to the metal your brake disc will be damaged resulting in an unnecessary and expensive replacement. Fitting braided steel brake lines will increase the performance of your brakes by roughly 50%

 

Chain and sprockets, Shaft Drives, Belts

Tip: Lube your chain after each ride when the chain is warm so the oil can easily soak in and get into all the tight spots of the chain.

These are items that are essential to the well-being of your bike. If not well maintained, you will end up spending a lot of money all too often to have them replaced.

Chains:

Lubricate them often with a commercial chain spray. Spray liberally on the side of the chain that comes into contact with the sprockets. Ensure that you spray both left and the right hand side of the chain. Position a piece of newspaper so that you do not spray the rear tire and rim as you spray the chain. Use a second piece on the floor to catch any drips. Wait five or ten minutes before you wipe all excess oil off the chain. This whole process is a lot easier if your bike has a center stand. Spinning the back tire will ensure that the rest of the chain is lubricated when it comes into contact with the sprockets. This is a task that is best done when you return home from your ride while the chain is still warm.

Bike chains should never be taut but must be able to sag between 3/4" to 1 1/4" at the mid-point between the two sprockets. The sag is used when the bike suspension moves up and down over uneven surfaces.

Shaft Drives:
Even though shaft drives on motorcycles require little maintenance we would suggest checking the shaft drive oil every time you change the oil on your motorcycle. This will lead to a very long and happy life for the shaft drive.

Belt Drives:
As with shaft drives, belts do not require a lot of maintenance. Every time you change the oil on your motorcycle check the belt tension and adjust if necessary. Make sure your belt is always clean.

 

Fuel:

Tip: Check your fuel filter on a regular basis and replace every year.

Fuel is quite often overlooked as a form of preventive maintenance on a motorcycle.

Check the fuel filter to make sure it is not clogged and looks clean and clear. Replace fuel filters every year.

Check the fuel lines for weather damage and cracking and replace immediately if any is found.

Generally, untreated gas only lasts (is good for) about 6 months. After this time the gas starts to break down. Properly dispose of untreated gas that is older than 6 months rather than risk running it. Treated gas can last up to 2 years. If you aren't familiar with fuel treatments, just ask.

Remember when parking your motorcycle for any extended period of time to turn the petcock (fuel tap) to the off position. This prevents fuel from potentially leaking out and flooding the carbs or the engine.

 

Oil:

Tip: Check your oil level when it is cold before you go on a ride. If it is not at its high or max level top it off before going out.

Regular oil and filter changes will keep your bike young and healthy.

Oil level: Make sure you regularly check and keep your oil level at its HIGH or MAX level. It is best to check your oil level on the bike's center stand or when it is in a level position. An under-filled oil level can be disastrous while too much oil can flood your air cleaner with oil. (It is embarrassing too).

You should also know the difference between the 'low' level and the 'high' level in ounces. Example - If the difference is 24 ounces you cannot purchase a quart and pour the whole can in!

Here are some pointers regarding oil which are true for most motorcycles;

- The bike should be as level as possible.
- The oil should be checked cold and is therefore best done before you go out on a ride.
- Be careful to not allow foreign matter and dirt to fall in when checking the oil level.
- With threaded dipsticks, do not screw the dipstick in when taking a reading, just allow it to rest on the lowest thread.
- High temperatures, time, speed, heavy traffic, short trips and dust quickly destroy the quality of your oil. If you do ride in these conditions change your oil more frequently.
- We suggest changing your oil every 1500 miles or 3-6 months, whichever comes first.
- It is recommended that you change your oil filter every oil change.
- Always use a good quality oil filter!

Battery

Tip: Check the fluid levels on each cell. If any cell is low, carefully top it off. Use only distilled or deionized water, NOT tap water. Tap water has minerals in it that will not do the battery any good.

The humble battery is a very common cause for motorcycle breakdowns! Unfortunately they are sometimes awkward to get to and therefore do not get checked as often as they should.

A battery only requires a little monthly maintenance to perform perfectly. Keep the battery charged to 100%, recharging when the lights dim, the starter sounds weak, or the battery hasn't been used in more than two weeks. Other than that, follow this simple check list every month:

- Check the electrolyte level
- Top off only with distilled or deionized water, wear gloves and protective glasses. Top off in a well-ventilated area - beware of fumes.
- Keep the top free of grime.
- Check cables, clamps, and case for obvious damage or loose connections.
- Clean terminals and connectors as necessary.
- Check inside for excessive sediment, sulfating or mossing.
- Make sure the exhaust tube is free of kinks and clogs.
- Replace caps firmly.
- Finish up by testing the battery with either a hydrometer or voltmeter. To extend the service life of your battery, make monthly battery maintenance part of your routine.

Use only distilled or deionized water, NOT tap water. Tap water has minerals in it that will not do the battery any good.

 

 

 

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