Your motorcycle is an investment. Keeping it in good shape makes good sense from that perspective, but it’s a lot more than that. A well-maintained bike is a safe one, and when you get into it with a distracted driver behind the wheel of a huge pickup, you’ll be glad you took the time to do things right.
Basic engine maintenance is primarily about changing the oil, using only the oil that your manufacturer recommends, and putting in new air filters regularly. The air filter and oil protect your engine over the long haul, meaning you can get a good return on investment if you ever sell or will be riding your vehicle for a lot longer.
If you notice anything odd about your engine, including lower power than you expect or odd noises, be sure to take it to a mechanic. If you put off this visit, a little issue could mushroom into an expensive fix later on.
On average, motorcycle tires last between 5,000 and 15,000 miles, but you’ll find exceptions to the rule. The onus is on you to regularly inspect them. Check your tires regularly for odd or abnormal wear patterns.
Make sure the tread is always deep enough for safety and look for cracks or bulges that shouldn’t be there. When it’s time to replace your tires, get a quality choice such as Bridgestone motorcycle tires. The tires are not someplace where you want to go cheap.
If you’re not going to be riding for a while, or if you only ride during the summer and early fall, be sure to keep your bike indoors and out of the elements. Remember that your bike has a lot less protection than a car or truck.
A combination of rain and snow, dew and condensation, UV light, and even exhaust from other vehicles will take a toll on paint, chrome, and electrical components. It doesn’t hurt to keep a cover with you, either, for those times when you can’t park indoors.
Your chain is crucial for safe riding. The chain often gets ignored, but it if fails, your power can drop, or worse, you could have a serious accident. Inspect and adjust your chain at least twice a month. Use a tape measure to ensure the chain can move about an inch up and down in the middle and adjust it if the movement is more or less than this.
Use an approved cleaning solvent and a soft brush to clean the chain. Then lubricate it thoroughly, making sure to get lubricant into the rear socket. In a pinch, you can even use cooking oil for this, and if you get used cooking oil collection already, you won’t have to worry about what to do with the excess.
Your brakes are another key component and possibly the last one you want to fail. Inspect your brake pads regularly and expect to have to change them about once every 10,000 to 15,000 miles. The harder you brake, especially if you regularly ride around hills, the more frequently you’ll need to change the pads.
If brake pads are 2 millimeters or thinner, it’s time to let them go. And remember, those brake pads don’t just protect you when you drive. They also keep your bike and everyone around it safe every time you park on an incline.
Your engine coolant protects your bike in the heat, but also in the cold. It needs to be replaced every two years or so and more often if you frequently ride in harsh conditions.
Coolant for a bike is half deionized water and half antifreeze, so make sure you’ve got a mixture that’s made for your motorcycle before you put it in. Once you’ve added fresh coolant, be sure to bleed excess air using the radiator hoses.