Motorcycle maintenance is not as daunting as it may seem. By following a few basic steps, you can keep your bike running smoothly and extend its life. In this article, we will discuss the tools required for basic motorcycle maintenance, as well as some DIY tips that you can do at home. We will also provide a list of jobs to do on a motorcycle, safety items to check, motorcycle maintenance that should be left to professionals unless you have experience, and items that should be replaced on a motorcycle during basic maintenance.
Should you perform basic motorcycle maintenance yourself?
There are a number of reasons why basic maintenance on a motorcycle can be beneficial for any motorbike owner, one of which is reducing maintenance costs, but should you complete these jobs yourself?
Every rider is different so there is no definitive answer to this question because it does depend on your personal skills.
Ask yourself, do you have basic knowledge of working with tools, do you have the required tools, and do you feel comfortable working on your motorcycle.
There are some basic maintenance jobs that are relatively easy to do and don’t require any special skills or knowledge, while there are other more complex jobs that should be left to a professional unless you have experience.
It is important to remember that basic maintenance is vital in keeping your motorcycle running smoothly and extending its life. So, if you do decide to complete these jobs yourself, make sure you have the required tools and knowledge.
Basic motorcycle maintenance for a smoother ride
There are a number of basic jobs that you can do on your motorcycle to keep it running smoothly. These include:
- – Checking the oil level and condition
- – Checking the coolant level
- – Checking the brakes
- – Checking the tyres and tyre pressure
- – Checking the lights and electrics
- – Cleaning the chain and checking for wear
- – Checking the suspension
Before carrying out basic motorcycle maintenance it is a good idea to purchase a motorcycle manual for your motorbike, we recommend Haynes Motorcycle Manuals.
Checking the oil level and condition
One of the most important basic maintenance jobs is checking the oil level and condition. This should be done regularly, as it helps to keep your engine lubricated and running smoothly.
To check the oil level, you will need to consult your motorcycle’s manual as the process can vary depending on the make and model.
However, generally speaking, you will need to remove the dipstick from the engine and wipe it clean.
Then reinsert the dipstick and pull it out again to check the oil level. The oil level should be between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick.
If the oil level is low, you will need to add more oil. When adding oil, be sure not to overfill as this can cause damage to your engine.
If you are replacing the oil it is important to ensure the engine is warm before draining the oil from the motorcycle, run the bike for a few minutes before draining it from the sump plug, it is also a good idea to replace the sump plug washer before refitting it into the sump.
Fill the motorcycle with the correct grade and amount of oil as specified in your manual, then check the level again using the dipstick, or on some motorbikes, there will be a level window built into the engine casing.
Checking the coolant level
Another basic maintenance job that should be done regularly is checking the coolant level. This helps to keep your engine running at a consistent temperature and prevents it from overheating.
This procedure should be done when the motorcycle engine is cold.
To check the coolant level, you will need to remove the coolant expansion tank cap and check that the coolant is between the minimum and maximum marks on the side of the tank.
If the coolant level is low, you will need to add more. When adding coolant, be sure not to overfill as this can cause damage to your engine.
It is important to use the correct type of coolant as specified in your manual, as using the wrong type can also cause damage to your engine.
Also, check for levels of antifreeze and ensure that the same type of antifreeze is used for topping up, this is usually indicated by its colour.
Also, check the tank cap for signs of wear and replace it if necessary.
Checking the motorcycle brakes
Another basic maintenance job that should be done regularly is checking the brakes.
This helps to ensure that your brakes are working properly and are not worn down.
Visually inspect the brake pads and brake discs for excessive wear, if they are worn they will need replacing, this can be a technical procedure that can be completed at home but if you are not experienced in this area it is best left to a professional.
Also, check the brake fluid level and condition. The brake fluid should be at the correct level and should be replaced if it is dirty or has been contaminated.
Checking motorcycle tyres and tyre pressures
Another basic maintenance job that should be done regularly is checking the tyres and tyre pressures. This helps to ensure that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure and are not worn down.
Check the tyre tread depth and condition, if they are excessively worn they will need replacing. Also, check the tyre pressures and inflate them to the correct pressure as specified in your manual.
It is also a good idea to check the wheel bearings for excessive wear, as this can cause the tyres to wear prematurely.
If there is any side to side movement in the wheel the bearing is worn, this is a job that is best left to a professional.
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Checking motorcycle lights and electrics
Another basic maintenance job that should be done regularly is checking the lights and electrics. This helps to ensure that all the lights are working properly and that there are no loose wires.
Start by checking all the bulbs, and replacing any that are blown. Then, check all the fuses and replace any that are blown.
Also, check all the electrical connections and tighten any that are loose.
Finally, check the battery level and condition. If the battery is low, you will need to charge it or replace it.
Checking the motorcycle chain
If your motorcycle has a chain, then it is important to check it regularly as this can cause wear and tear on the chain and sprockets.
To check the chain, you will need to clean it first. Then, inspect it for wear and tear. If the chain is excessively worn, it will need replacing.
A chain breaker tool can be used for removing the chain easily.
Check that the chain is not loose, the specifications for this can be found in the manual for the bike, and can be easily adjusted using the chain tensioner.
Also, check the sprockets for excessive wear. If they are excessively worn, they will need replacing.
Checking the suspension
Another basic maintenance job that should be done regularly is checking the suspension. This helps to ensure that your suspension is working properly and is not worn down.
To check the suspension, you will need to visually inspect it for leaks or damage. Also, check the suspension for excessive play.
If there is excessive play, then the suspension will need to be serviced or replaced.
Tools required for basic motorcycle maintenance
There are some basic tools that will be required to complete basic maintenance on a motorcycle. These include:
- Socket set
- Wire cutters
- Tyre pressure gauge
- Tyre lever
- Chain lube
- Paddock stand
- Motorcycle manual
- Plenty of rags
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Safety considerations when working on a motorcycle
It is important to always think of your own safety when working on a motorcycle.
Some basic safety considerations include:
Always wear eye protection when working on a motorcycle.
Be aware of your surroundings and make sure that there is nothing near you that could fall and hurt you.
Wear gloves when working on a motorcycle to protect your hands.
Use a paddock stand or motorcycle jack to ensure that the bike is stable and cannot fall.
Be aware of anything hot such as the exhaust pipe, engine, oil, or water.
If you are not experienced in working on motorcycles, it is best to leave it to the professionals.
Basic motorcycle maintenance is important to keep your bike running smoothly and to ensure your safety when riding.
It is always a good idea to have a motorcycle manual to help with any technical details, and help you to locate all the parts with detailed information and diagrams.
There are some basic jobs that you can do at home, but if you are not experienced it is best to leave it to the professionals.