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General Motorcycle Maintenance Tips

If you don’t want to pay a hefty price for repairs, or even risk an accident, it’s a good idea to practice regular upkeep of your motorcycle. Luckily, this isn’t too complicated and if you do a good job of maintaining your bike, it won’t be very costly, either.

  • Tires — Check the tire pressure gauge on each tire and compare this with the specified pressure located on the label attached to the chain guard or rear mud guard. Increase the pressure if necessary until it approximately matches the specified pressure. Check to ensure the treads aren’t worn. If the tires are replaced, check the alignment.
  • Brakes — Check the brakes individually to ensure the application is firm and fully applied without full extension of the lever for the front brake or pedal for the rear. Top off the fluid of the hydraulic brakes if below the line on the master cylinder reservoir using the fluid type marked on the reservoir cap.
  • Chain — Check the drive chain and lubricate regularly, keeping the chain and sprockets clean of excess grime. Adjust the tension if the chain looks slack; motorcycle chains are not taut to allow the bike suspension to move up and down over uneven surfaces, but the chain shouldn’t sag over an inch and a half at the mid-point between the two sprockets. If the chain is replaced or the tension is adjusted, check the alignment.
  • Suspension — Make sure the steering moves smoothly by turning the handlebars from side to side, and check front and rear suspension while sitting on the motorcycle. Keep the forks and shocks clean and check for wear.
  • Fuel — Replace the fuel filter (if the motorcycle is equipped with one) when it looks clogged or dirty. Check the fuel lines for damage and replace immediately if damage is found.
  • Oil — Support the motorcycle on level ground to allow the oil level to stabilize. If your bike has an inspection window, check that the level is between the maximum and minimum markings; if your motorcycle has a dipstick, note where the oil reaches in relation to the maximum and minimum markings. If the levels are below the minimum markings, remove the filler cap from the crankcase and fill to the level with motorcycle engine oil. Make sure not to use car engine oil because motorcycles need specially formulated bike engine oil. Drain and replace old oil every six months, clean the drain plug, and wipe down the drain hole and mesh filter.
  • Coolant — Check that the coolant level is between the markers. If necessary, fill with a mixture of half distilled water and half antifreeze.
  • Battery — Keep the top free of grime and check the cables and clamps for damage and loose connections. Test the battery with a hydrometer or voltmeter. Check the electrolyte level, and top up with distilled or deionized water only. Wear gloves and protective glasses, and keep aware of the fumes. Clean the terminals and connectors, and check the inside for sediment, sulfurization, or mossing.