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There's no zen in the art of motorcycle maintenance

Updated on July 2, 2008
For your safety you should know all about performing regular maintenance on your motorcycle!
For your safety you should know all about performing regular maintenance on your motorcycle!

At a time when unprecedented numbers of neophyte riders are taking to motorcycles, fleeing from the gas shocks of seeing their entire paychecks pumped into the fuel tanks of their SUVs and pickup trucks, it is extremely important to be educated as to the much greater maintenance requirements of two wheeled transport. Although you could likely drive your F-150 or Silverado for 15,000 miles without once popping the hood, try that on a motorcycle and you'll be walking home. There is a very strict regimen of maintenance that is recommended for all motorcycles regardless of displacement or age, not only for longevity but for safety as well!


Bolt Check: Bolts will always come loose sooner or later. Check for proper torque and if you have some especially bothersome bolts that keep loosening, try some liquid thread locker or even consider cotter pinning them!

Chain: Ensure that the final drive chain is properly lubricated and adjusted to the specified tolerances, not too loose and not too tight.

Fuses: Check your entire fuse setups for blown fuses and don't forget that there may be several fuses which are not in your fuse box. Make sure you have plenty of spares along.

Shaft: If you're chainless, check the lubricant level in the shaft final drive and make sure it's up to the recommended level.

Tire Condition: Use an accurate air pressure gauge (don't ever rely on the service station indicators as they're usually way off) to ensure you have the correct tire pressure, Check your tires carefully for cracks and excessive tread wear.

Wires: Check for corrosion and wear, especially on wires that rub up against moving metal parts such as around the triple tree.


Air Filter: Check them carefully and clean or change as soon as they start getting dusty. Starving your engine of airflow can not only throw your MPG figures out the window but also can lead to all sorts of mechanical problems.

Battery Terminals & Wires: Check for corrosion and replace anything that even remotely looks oxidized. No, it is not a normal sign of wear for your terminals to look like they have gray fur growing on them!

Brake pads & Rotors: Check for wear and don't hesitate to replace them now, not when you go to hit the brakes to avoid from hitting a stalled 18 wheeler on the freeway.

Cables: Lubricate all of them and adjust to the recommended play.

Chain & Sprockets - Conduct a complete examination, especially the links for kinks (links for kinks... sounds like a pr0n portal) and to ensure that the sprocket valleys are symmetrical. Worn sprockets will present an uneven profile and should be replaced immediately.

Oil: If you have to be told that you need to change the oil and filter at recommended intervals, you have no right owning a motorcycle. Consider using synthetic oils for better engine protection.


Battery & Charging system: Have it professionally tested to ensure that it's working at peak efficiency.

Brake Fluid: It's cheap, so change it every year, don't just be content to check for contamination.

Coolant: Same as Brake Fluid. Don't save $5 and ruin your ride.

Tune-up: Chances are your local independent mechanic will tune up your bike for less than half the price of your "official dealer" and it's money well spent for the extra performance, mileage, reliability and longevity of your scoot.

Take these maintenance recommendations under advisement and keep your bike and yourself in one piece!


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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      You're absolutely right. If the proper specifications for torquing down bolts, etc. are followed, then the chances of a failure of that type go down to almost zero. The problem is that many mechanics never pay attention to the manuals. I once went to have my Civic's tires rotated at a large dealer. I picked up the car, got on the freeway and my left rear wheel actually passed me on the way to the ditch. I kept the shiny side up by a miracle. It turned out that the mechanic had only put in the wheel bolts finger tight. Yikes! :)

    • earnestshub profile image

      earnestshub 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Nice article Hal, As far as bolts coming loose, this is very rare on Japanese motorcycles until the bike has been serviced incorrectly. The average motorcycle mechanic is the biggest enemy of the motorcycle in my view.

      Mechanics do not always tension correctly as per factory specs, or check for leaks after replacing fluids, or they incorrectly route cables and wiring etc.