Here we have a few things you should check on your motorcycle on a regular basis. I assume you have a handbook with the specs for your bike, if not, go get one. You may be able to find some data for your particular motorcycle on the net. You can also pick up workshop manuals for various models on eBay in PDF or CD form for little money.
Whereas with a four wheeled vehicle you may get away with being lax with things like tire pressures etc, this is not the case with a motorcycle. You should not risk compromising the safety and stability of your motorcycle, for the sake of a bit of routine maintenance.
- Tires – check condition and for foreign objects in the tread.
- Tire pressures – it is vitally important to keep your motorcycles tire pressures either on spec or very close to it.
- Oil level – always check with the bike on level ground.
- Coolant level – only if your bike’s liquid cooled, obviously.
- Chain – check the tension and make sure it’s well lubed.
- Brakes – check they work and that they feel good.
- Lights – check all your lights, especially the brake light, you don’t want to get rear ended, do you?
- Visual inspection – self explanatory.
- All ok – hit the road.
- Check battery – see that the connections are tight; I dropped a bike once because of a loose battery connection, strange but true. Also check the electrolyte level on some batteries, a lot of newer batteries are gel filled, sealed for life types, so no need with these.
- Carb balance – if your bike is multi carbed get yourself a Morgan carbtune or similar. It can be a little tricky the first time you balance them, but when you’ve done it once, the second time will be easy.
- Ignition timing – only necessary on some bikes, most newer models have electronic ignition which does not need touching, normally.
- Valve clearances – unless you’re a good home mechanic, take it to a dealer.
- Wheel bearings – grab each wheel with it off the ground and see if there is any sideways play. There should be none or maybe a trace at most.
- Steering head bearings – with the front end off the ground, grab the forks and push and pull. There should be no play.
- Swinging arm bearings – with the back wheel off the ground, check for any sideways movement in the swingarm, there should be none.
- Brakes – check fluid levels, brake hoses for deterioration, and pads/shoes for thickness.
- Cables and levers – should operate smoothly. Get some grease on lever/pedal pivot points, and get some lube down the cables, if you can. A cable oiler is a handy tool.
- Nut and bolts – go all round the motorcycle with your spanners and check that all nuts/ bolts/screws are nice and tight.
Well, that’s about it for some basic maintenance, obviously, unless you’re a good home mechanic, any bigger jobs will have to go to a dealer. The problem can be finding a good one with skilled mechanics you can trust. I manage to keep my Yamaha Fazer 1000 running sweet just using the steps listed above. It does help that this model only needs the valve clearances checking every 26,000 miles.
James Hunaban is the owner of http://www.motorcycling-news.com a site full of Motorcycle information.