Picking out the perfect bike for you—the one that matches your needs and preferences in the best possible way—is obviously important. But perhaps less obvious, it’s equally or more important to keep up proper maintenance on your bike to ensure it remains that perfect fit. Like any motor vehicle, motorcycles require routine maintenance, which consists largely of tasks that are simple enough to do yourself. Always make sure to review your owner’s manual so you know how often your bike needs maintenance.
Why Motorcycle Maintenance Matters
There are plenty of reasons to maintain your bike, the first being a matter of safety. Falling behind on certain maintenance tasks could result in less safe riding conditions for you. For instance, failing to check your bike for any defects or damage could result in unpredictable riding complications. Old, worn tires could result in less road traction, making for less safe turning and maneuvering. And brakes that aren’t functioning correctly could very easily result in an accident.
Beyond safety, routine motorcycle maintenance also helps to ensure the longevity of your bike, helping you get the most out of your investment. Here is where the owner’s manual comes in crucial—it will tell you exactly what to check and when to check it to keep you bike running as smoothly as possible. Completing these simple tasks, which can include inspecting the bike for damage and changing fluids, on time will minimize the wear and tear on your motorcycle.
Checking your bikes tire pressures is a relatively simple yet important task, but one that is often overlooked more often than it should be. Ideally, you should be checking the tire pressures once a week, to ensure you’re in the proper range for ideal riding condition. Underinflated tires can negatively impact both handling and braking, making for a less enjoyable and less safe ride. Using a quality pressure gauge and relying on the specified pressures in the manual, this aspect of bike maintenance can be done easily. While checking pressure, it is also good to check the condition and treads of the tires as well.
Don’t wait until your brakes are screeching at you to check your brakes. Your ability to slow down and come to a complete stop is not something you want to gamble with on a motorcycle. Check front and rear brake pads—most will have an indicator line on the pad to inform you when you need to change. But if the pad is wearing close to the metal, it means it’s time to change. Luckily, it is easy and inexpensive to change on your own. Next you need to check brake fluid. Most bikes will have a sight in the master cylinder to easily know if you need to add fluid. Always refer to your manual to ensure you using the right type of fluid. Lastly, squeeze the brake lever to feel that pressure is normal.
Always make sure to stay up to date on your oil changes. In the meantime, there are some things you should do at home, such as check your oil level using the dipstick. If it’s clearly low, or if you see the engine oil light, you most likely need to top it off. Fill it with less than the required amount of oil, button up the bike, and start it. Let it run for a few minutes and then turn the bike off. While you do this, be sure to give the engine a quick inspection for any leaks or oil dripping. It’s a good habit to get into to check all your fluid levels, like primary and transmission oils, and coolant for liquid cooled bikes. As always, while looking over your motorcycle, check for any loose nuts and bolts that might need to be tightened.
In general, motorcycle maintenance requires a bit of time and effort. But keeping up with the routine maintenance specified in you manual is totally doable, especially once you become confident completing these maintenance tasks at home. Overall, motorcycle maintenance is incredibly worth doing in order to ensure the safety and longevity of your machine.