A motorcycle is an intricate machine composed of many parts. These should all be checked on a regular basis. It helps to detect and fix any small issues that can balloon into major problems.
Here, the goal is to narrow it down to the most important items in need of annual maintenance.
Let’s jump into the most important annual motorcycle maintenance updates.
An under-inflated tire can easily lead to a blow-out, which can become a major issue on a highway ride. Definitely check on tire inflation regularly to ensure they are balanced just right.
This can be done with a tire gauge and visual inspections. Over time, you’ll learn how to instinctively know if the tire is at a good pressure point
Tires should also be replaced when the tread wears down. If the tread depth is around 1-2 millimeters, it is replacement time. A motorcycle isn’t worth much without a good set of tires, so don’t skimp out when replacing them.
Break for the Brakes
Over time, brake fluid becomes less effective and therefore more dangerous on a ride. Brake fluid should typically be replaced every one or two years to ensure the best performance.
Motorcycles typically have two reservoirs for brake fluid. One is near the front on the handlebars and another in the back. Both need to be checked annually.
Additionally, brake pads need to be checked for replacement. If they are thin, they might be due for replacement. If brake pads wear down to the metal, the brake disc will lead to an expensive replacement. This is easily avoided by checking brake pad thickness regularly.
Check the Chain (and Sprockets, Shaft Drives, and Belts)
The combination of chains, sprockets, shaft drives, and belts are essential to the function of the motorcycle. Poor maintenance of these parts will lead to expensive repairs and replacements down the road.
Chains: Chains on the motorcycle need to be constantly lubricated. Experts suggest spraying it with a chain spray whenever you refuel or at the end of the ride. If you do it after each ride, the chain will still be warm, and the oil will be able to soak in and get all of the chain covered. Spray liberally where the chain touches the sprockets. Be careful not to dirty the rear wheel and rim while spraying. A way to avoid that is to put newspaper between the chain and tire before spraying. Allow the oil to soak in for five minutes or so before removing excess oil.
Shaft Drives: This piece requires a little less maintenance, but still deserves attention. Replace the shaft drive oil whenever it is time for an oil change. This will prolong the life of the shaft drive and the bike overall.
Belt Drives: Again, another piece requiring little maintenance. Check and adjust the belt tension anytime the oil is being changed. The belt should always be cleaned for the health of the bike.
Fill the Fuel
This doesn’t just mean to gas up the bike for the obvious purpose of getting the bike to go. Fuel maintenance requires replacing the fuel filter every two years and checking for clogs annually. Fuel filters can be easily damaged by weather, and if it is, should be replaced immediately. If the bike, and therefore the gas, sits for a long time, it should be replaced. Running on gas older than 6 months can lead to damage to the bike. If the bike is sitting for an extended period of time, turn the fuel tap off. This will help prevent fuel from leaking and flooding the carbs or engine.
Always Check the Oil
Oil and oil filter changes will keep your bike healthy and running for a long time. Changing the oil is a great time to check a lot of the other maintenance issues listed here. The oil level shouldbe kept at a high or max level as much as possible. A low oil level can be damaging for the bike.
Battery for life
Just like a car, the battery can lead to breakdowns and a stranded rider. The location of the battery on a motorcycle means it is often overlooked, but it is no less important for maintenance. Batteries need monthly maintenance. It should always be kept at 100% and recharged as needed.
Some tips for maintaining the battery include:
•Checking the electrolyte level
•Topping up in a well-ventilated area with deionized or distilled water while wearing gloves and protective glasses
•Keeping the battery top free of grime
•Checking all cables, case, and clamps for damage or any loose connections
•Cleaning terminals and connectors
•Looking inside for a build-up of sediment, sulfation, or mossing
•Keeping the exhaust tube free from clogs and kinks
•Testing the battery with a hydrometer or voltmeter
•Checking all of this monthly to extend the life of the bike
The goal of a motorcycle owner is to keep the ride running smoothly and safely for as long as possible. Following these maintenance tips will help extend the longevity of the bike and make sure you are safe while doing it.