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5 Maintenance Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Motorcycle
Unlike a car, a motorcycle affords the rider many perks and advantages over a larger vehicle that make getting around a much easier and simpler process. However, similar to any other vehicle, a motorcycle can also come with its own host of details to consider and be aware of. A bike is just another machine in the end, and it requires its own regular maintenance to keep things running smoothly.
In Florida, we are lucky enough to boast great weather year-round. On the other hand, this means there is no clear season for when to check in with your bike maintenance. Luckily, basic motorcycle maintenance is actually pretty straightforward, and a bike is easier to maneuver around than a car. Most riders can learn to take care of these small tune-ups on their own.
Not only is regular maintenance a great way to save some money, it also can keep you safer on the road. A tuned bike is a safe bike! Taking good care of your bike will prolong the lifespan of the vehicle so you can keep enjoying it for years to come. Below you will find our top motorcycle maintenance tips for owners, both veteran and brand new.
1. Inspect Your Tires
The tires are arguably the most important part of your bike. They are the only pieces of your vehicle that make contact with the ground (or that are supposed to, anyway). Checking your tires is one of the easiest things you can do, but it is also vital. Even subtly low-pressure tires can affect everything from gas mileage to how your bike feels when you ride it. Tires in poor condition can affect your braking and handling, which can make it harder for you to recover from encountering an obstacle.
To properly examine your wheels, roll your bike forwards and backwards so you can check out the full circumference of the tires. Examine the tread, and look for any flat spots or areas that are cracked or rotting. If the rear tire is wearing more quickly than the front one, it may be good idea to replace both if the difference is significant. Check the pressure, and top it off as needed. Keep in mind that overinflation can also be a problem. The right air pressure will help your tires last longer.
2. Check Your Oil
Many manufacturers recommend you change your oil at least once a year with regular use, but you should check your own manual for advice. Even with this timeline in mind, you may need to change your oil more often, depending on how frequently your ride and where. If you take your bike out on dusty or sandy roads often, your oil quality will break down faster.
If you ride often, it is a best practice to check your oil level once a week and top it off as needed. To check it the most accurately, turn your bike on and let the motor run for a short time to warm up the bike and circulate oil through the system. If the oil has changed color from the bottle-fresh amber to darker or is clumpy in texture, it is time to swap for a fresh batch. Milky white oil usually means coolant is mixing with your oil and could signal a more serious problem.
3. Maintain Your Drive Chain
If you are new to owning and riding a motorcycle and have experience driving a car, you may notice that while some parts are similar to a car, there are some parts that are unique to a motorcycle. The drive chain is one of them, and it has an important job. The drive chain transfers power from your engine to your rear wheel, and this is what allows your bike to move and switch gears. It is similar to the drive belt in a car. Although less common, some bikes actually use drive belts now instead, but they come with downsides, such as expense and lowered power.
If your bike has chain, it is important to take care of it on the regular. Chains require frequent lubing to ensure it is moving smoothly and to prevent rust. Try to lube the chain after each day you ride, preferably while your bike is still warm so the oil can penetrate the entire chain.
You should also regularly check the tension. Too tight or too loose of a chain can cause numerous issues, such as early gearbox wear and rough shifting, and left unattended to for too long, this problem will reduce the life of your entire drive train. When you do need to tighten your chain, weight the bike or have someone sit on it to make sure it does not overtighten once you actually weight it to ride.
4. Test Your Lights and Controls
The controls are the parts of your bike that you have the most interaction with. You would think it would be easy to notice any issues because of this, but it can also be easy to become habituated to small changes over time, especially if you ride your bike daily. Be sure to check your brake lever, pedal, clutch, throttle, and grips for any wear, and move them around while not riding to see if any of these are loose or out of adjustment.
While you are looking on the surface, it is a good idea to also look into the related inner workings of your bike on a regular basis. Check your brake pads for excessive wear, and top off or change your brake fluid when it is time. Learn how to disassemble your cable housing so that you can inspect the throttle, clutch, and brake cables. If any of these become too dry or brittle, the bike’s control may become less responsive. Use a cable lube to keep them gliding without friction, and check the cable housing itself for damage, which can speed up cables drying out.
5. …And Your Lights
Visibility is vitally important when riding a motorcycle. Obstacles can come up fast, especially if you are riding at night, so you want to have as large a field of view in your headlight as possible. Your lights also make you more easily seen by other vehicles on the road. Check your headlight in both high and low beam settings. If either setting is looking dim, swap out the bulb.
Be sure to test your tail light and turn signals too. If changing the bulbs doesn’t solve light issues, the problem could lie in your wiring or your battery, so refer to your factory manual to troubleshoot. On the same note, you should also check that your brake lights are activated independently by both your front lever and rear pedal. Needless to say, faulty brake lights can be very dangerous, and you should address this immediately if they are not working as intended.
Sometimes regular maintenance just isn’t enough to keep you out of trouble on the road. If you were involved in a motorcycle accident and think you could be entitled to compensation, contact the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz for a no-obligation consultation. Get legal advice directly from a lawyer at our firm and find out if you have a case.