Riding a motorcycle is a fun, adventurous and relaxing pastime for many. While the motorcycle does give its owner many hours of enjoyment breezing down the highway, or an economical way to commute to work, it also comes with many responsibilities. General motorcycle maintenance is one such responsibility. A well-maintained motorcycle is also a safer motorcycle, which will lead to more hours on the road and fewer hours in the garage.
Tires are the most important part of general motorcycle maintenance. Motorcycles lean through curves, so the tires need to have ample tread and proper inflation. Motorcycle tires are specially designed for the style of motorcycle and the type of riding the motorcycle owner plans to do.
Your motorcycle dealer will be able to ensure that your motorcycle is outfitted with the proper tires according to your riding style and the type of motorcycle you own. Once you have the proper tires, check them frequently.
New tires, not just old tires, can go low, which will affect the way the motorcycle handles and leans through curves. Give the tires a quick check before every ride and examine them closely at least once a month. Replace the tires immediately if the tread is worn or there are any cracks or bulges in the tire itself.
Proper oil level and condition is vital to the motorcycle engine. Keep a log on the oil changes, adhere strictly to the appropriate type of oil and change the oil according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. If you ride your motorcycle particularly hard and fast, you may want to change the oil more frequently than recommended.
Check the oil before you ride the motorcycle. If it gets suspiciously low between changes, check for leaks, and repair them immediately. If the motorcycle has a lot of miles on it, it may be using more oil. Make sure you have a back-up supply to top it off between changes.
Check the brake fluid levels after several trips, or if the motorcycle has been sitting for a while. Never pull a motorcycle out of the garage after the winter and hop on. Check everything out before you ride. It will take only a few minutes, and it could save your life, or someone else’s.
If the motorcycle has been stored for a while, such as through the winter, it will need a good washing and polishing before you start your riding season. This is a good time to go over the checklist of things to examine. Check the bike over from front to back, and refer to your log to see when the oil, plugs or battery were changed.
Examine the tires as you wash the bike. Hands-on washing helps you scrutinize every inch of the motorcycle. Washing and polishing are also important steps in general motorcycle maintenance, as keeping the motorcycle washed and clean helps preserve the paint and keep the motorcycle looking its best.
Some motorcycles are chain driven while others are shaft driven. If your bike is equipped with a chain and sprocket, quickly examine them before each ride. Make sure the sprocket has no chipped teeth and that the chain is snug.
Give the chain and sprocket a more in-depth examination at least once a month, or more depending on your riding style. If you take off hard, or shift hard through the gears, the chain might stretch, which can lead to worn links that are prone to breakage. Riding on gravel roads, dirt or oil can cause a buildup on the chain or sprocket. The teeth of the sprocket and the links in the chain need to be clean for optimal performance.
Place the bike on its belly stand or a jack stand and rotate the back tire to turn the sprocket and chain. If the chain seems stretched or has worn links, replace it immediately. Check the sprocket to make sure none of the teeth appear to be worn or broken. Worn or broken teeth on the sprocket can cause the chain to slip.
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