Almost no one has the availability to check the oil level in their motorcycle anymore what with the time suck of streaming TV, social media and generally sitting around the house doing nothing after a long day's work.
And the weekends? Forget it. Too. Much. To do.
Proceed at your own peril because a few minutes now saves a headache, heartbreak and wallet shake later. Routine maintenance goes a long way. Listen, we're not asking for a total breakdown. Just take a moment to check the bare minimum when it comes to those things most likely to give you trouble if left unattended. We have a full motorcycle pre-ride check list and the 10 Things You Should Probably Inspect on Your Motorcycle you can check out later but for now stop scrolling and check out these maintenance tips to keep you and your motorcycle upright and rolling for years to come.
1. Oil and Filter
Check the oil level. Takes seconds. Top off if necessary. Beyond that, change the oil and oil filter according to the specifications listed by the manufacturer. Typical oil changes intervals vary but most makes and models recommend every 4,000 miles with the first change on a new motorcycle coming a month later or the first 1,000 miles.
Check the tire pressure. Takes a few seconds. Riding on optimum tire pressure prevents premature wear, enhances fuel economy and provides the safest means of travel on two wheels. You don't want to ride on underinflated or overinflated tires because of the greater risk of a blow out and eroded traction.
While at knee level, check for cracking, discoloration and tread life. Remember the warranty? If not, next time write it down and keep tabs on how far you have ridden. The tires might look fresh but play it safe and consider a new set if you have reached the tread life as stated by the manufacturer.
3. Chain or Belt
Check the chain or belt depending on what drives your motorcycle. Takes about a minute. And, you really should give the chain or belt a glance probably every time you ride anyway but definitely every 500 miles or so and absolutely after washing or riding in the rain. Inspect the following:
- Wear and tear
- Lubricate Chain
You really can't over lubricate the chain so a quick spray of lubricant every now and then doesn't hurt. If the belt starts looking like an old tire, replace it. If the chain shows signs of chipping, pitting or has nicks, replace it. Same goes with the sprockets.
Notice some wear? Check out new chains and sprockets.
4. Control Cables
Check the brake, clutch, shift and throttle controls. Takes a few seconds. Look for fraying in the cables and test their functionality. Too tight or too loose a squeeze, make the necessary adjustments. Lubricate cables. The throttle should roll smoothly and snap back when disengaged.
Check out new cable and cable lubers.
5. Brake System
Check the brakes! Takes about a minute. You have tested their functionality, now ensure the brakes stop the bike when called. Look at the brake fluid level (need to change every two years or so depending on manufacturer recommendation), thickness of pads and for leakage around the hoses.
We can help get you stopped with an assortment of brake accessories.
Check all the signal lights and headlamp. Takes seconds. Besides providing safety, functioning lights prevent an unnecessary fix-it ticket from law enforcement. All lights should gleam with precision so drivers can see you and know exactly where you ride.
7. Bearings and Pivot Points
Check the bearings and anything that pivots. Sorry, this takes some time. Inspecting the bearings for slop and the pivot points for ease of movement ranks quite high in terms of overall safety because so much of the motorcycle's operation relies on these parts. Check the following bearings and pivot points:
- Sidestand pivot
- Rear Suspension Link
- Brake Lever (noted above)
- Clutch Lever (noted above)
- Brake pedal (noted above)
- Shift Pedal (noted above)
A lot to digest but mostly you check the functionality and ensure smooth operation. Lubricating regularly ensures a long life for bearings and properly functioning pivot points but eventually you will need to repack the bearings and many if not most riders have that performed by a licensed mechanic during the recommend intervals.
8. Air Filter
Check the air filter. Takes mere seconds or a few minutes. The air filter probably represents the most overlooked aspect in motorcycle maintenance. Pop it in and forget about it. How many stories exist of riders finally remembering to check only to remove a crud infested black mess. And hey, no issues with their ride. That may be true but don't neglect the air filter. Clean, free flowing air keeps the engine running at peak performance and prevents premature wear.
Choose from an assortment of new air filters.
Depending on your motorcycle, the air filter might be a pain to reach meaning the necessity to remove some parts like the gas tank. Thankfully, an air filter doesn't need replacing that often which means in some respects you can pop it in and forget it. Just make a note of the mileage. Also, if you drive in dusty areas you will need to change the air filter more often.
By the way, you should check a whole host of other items too but hopefully this gets you in the mood. The best source comes from the manufacturer and probably resides in the owner's manual of your motorcycle. In there, you will find a checklist of items to review along with the recommended intervals for addressing each one. Look it over and don't get overwhelmed.