Modern motorcycles are precision machines that are a blast to ride, but they require regular maintenance. Well maintained machines are more reliable, and safer. A maintenance schedule will result in a ride that doesn’t break down halfway through riding season, and will have a longer life and higher resale value.
Here is an outline to get you started.
Consult the manual. The motorcycle manufacturer, and Clymer’s technicians, know your bike better than you do, so check the manual for recommended maintenance intervals. Some people swear by the factory service manual, but the Clymer manual or Haynes manual will be much less expensive, and written with the average home mechanic in mind.
Follow break-in procedures. Obviously this only applies to new bikes. Break-in is critical, as it sets the tone for the rest of the machine’s life. Improper break-in can turn a new bike into an old bike very quickly. Follow the oil change intervals and RPM recommendations in the manual.
Change the oil. This one is a no-brainer, but it’s a little more complex than just pouring in new liquefied dead dinosaurs. Oil differs by brand, weight, viscosity and origin. Many riders favor one brand over another, or different weights for reasons of protection, gas mileage, or because it’s cheap. While synthetic oil offers a longer oil change interval, don’t wait to change the oil if you ride in hot, dusty conditions. A good bet is to stick with oil recommended in the manual, and change every 2,500 to 5,000 miles, depending on riding style.
Change the filters. Unlike a car, a motorcycle does not need the oil filter changed at every oil change. Instead, aim for every-other oil change, or 5,000 miles, whichever comes first. Change the oil strainer screen, if so equipped, at the same time. Change air filters when they are dirty, or every 5,000 miles. Fuel filters are also a maintenance item, and should be changed every year after the spring tune-up.
Check the brakes. Stopping a motorcycle Flintstones style, with your boots on the ground, doesn’t look cool and it’s not very effective. Check your bike for brake fluid leaks before every ride. Have a look at the fluid in the reservoir every month or so. If it is dark with contamination, has condensation or air bubbles, bleed it and replace. Check the pads at the same time, and replace if the cut in the pad is not a few millimeters deep.
Check the electrics. Inspect the batter every 1,000 miles, or three months. Check the fluid level if you have that type, and top up with distilled water as needed. Check for corrosion, and remove if you find any. If you have difficult starts, test the battery with a voltmeter and replace if it tests low. Have a quick look at the turn signals and brake lights before every ride. Don’t give other drivers an excuse not to see you. For more tips on troubleshooting the electrical systems, click here.
Keep her shiny. Wash and wax at a minimum. If you ride daily, you will need at least monthly washes, and wax at least every three months. Use specific cleaners on the brightwork, and use rubber/plastic cleaners and protectant on those bits.
Remember, this is nowhere near all-inclusive, just a general reminder of what you are looking at when owning a motorcycle. There is work involved, but it’s worth it. Ride safe.