Do you take your motorcycle to the shop, or do you fix your bike’s mechanical issues on your own? If you fix your motorcycle yourself, then you are part of a rare breed of rider that understands your bike inside and out. However, you are only human, and the tiniest of mistakes or a forgotten detail can cost you not only in cash but in health as well. So, to help those riders who wrench on their own machines, here are a few simple details that sometimes get glossed over when you work on your bike:
Things You Shouldn’t Forget During Motorcycle Maintenance
- Tires– Considered the rubber shoes of the motorcycle, tires connect you and the bike to the road. If something is wrong with these devices, then you are going to have problems riding around that corner, stopping or speeding up. You always want to check your tires to make sure they are in good shape, and that means doing more than simply glancing at them. Measure the depth of your treads, make sure there are no cuts or defects in the carcass and most importantly, check your tire pressures. An under inflated tire wears out fast, an over inflated tire lacks grip, and if a tire is losing a lot of air after a ride, you might have a slow leak in need of repair. Find your recommended tire pressures in the service/owner’s manual for your bike, and make sure those tires are doing their job.
- Chain– Your drive chain connects the power of your engine to the back wheel of your bike, and though some modern bikes have belt drives and shaft drives, most still have the good old-fashioned chain. If your bike has a chain, then you need to know how to take care of it, because the last thing you need is for it to break or fall off while you are leaned over taking a turn. First, make sure there’s not too much slack in your chain. It doesn’t have to be tight, but if the play has it hitting the road or your swingarm, then you need to make an adjustment (Consult your service/owner’s manual for specifics on your bike’s chain adjustments.) You should also make sure that your chain is clean and well lubed. This will maximize the life of your chain.
- Brakes– When was the last time you thought about brake maintenance? Well, we’re going to address that right now, since your brakes are the only way you are going to manage to stop in any situation. Check your brake pads to make sure they are not worn out. Most manufacturers make a mark to indicate when the pad has passed the point of usefulness. Remember brakes on a bike have very small and precise movements, so even the slightest wear may have a big effect on your braking. You should also change your brake fluid at least once a year. You see, brake fluid is hydroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture. This can be bad for your braking system and it can cause your brake response to become spongy. That means old fluid can hurt your ability to brake, so refresh that fluid yearly and don’t use old expired brake fluid.