Maintaining a motorcycle in optimal condition is essential for safe and enjoyable riding. Nevertheless, even experienced riders may slip into common maintenance pitfalls that affect the bike’s performance or longevity. Use this guide to learn some common motorcycle maintenance mistakes and how to avoid them to ensure your motorcycle gets the top-notch care it deserves.
The Importance of Regular Motorcycle Maintenance
Regular motorcycle maintenance is key to its performance, safety, and longevity. Keeping it clean and shiny is important, but you also must check and attend to essential components like oil levels, brake fluid, tire pressure, and chain tension, among others. By carrying out regular checks, it’s easier to identify potential problems early and rectify them before they escalate into major issues, saving both time and money in the long run.
Neglecting Tire Pressure
Tire pressure often goes overlooked on the motorcycle maintenance checklist. Despite its importance, many riders neglect this simple check, leading to decreased fuel efficiency, poor handling, and increased tire wear. Tire pressure fluctuates because of temperature and altitude changes or natural air leakage.
Regularly check and adjust your tire pressure to the manufacturer’s recommended levels. Using an accurate tire pressure gauge, check your motorcycle’s tire pressure at least once a week and before long rides. This little habit goes a long way in ensuring a safer, smoother ride and prolonging the life of your tires.
Overlooking Chain Lubrication
Your bike’s chain endures a lot of wear and tear, and regular lubrication is necessary to keep it functioning efficiently and prevent premature wear. Lack of proper lubrication leads to high friction, potentially damaging the chain and sprockets and, in the worst-case scenario, leading to a catastrophic failure while riding.
A simple solution is to incorporate chain lubrication into your regular maintenance routine. After every few hundred miles or following a ride in the rain, clean the chain with a suitable cleaning product like WD-40 and apply a good quality motorcycle chain lube.
Ignoring Brake Fluid Levels
Ignoring brake fluid levels is a mistake with potentially dangerous consequences. Brake fluid plays a critical role in the braking system, transmitting the force you apply on the brake lever to the brake pads and the tires. Since brake fluid is hygroscopic, it degrades and absorbs moisture, reducing braking efficiency and increasing the risk of accidents.
Avoid this hazard by checking your brake fluid levels regularly, at least once a month. If the fluid level is low or appears cloudy or dark, it’s time to replace it. Always stick to the manufacturer’s recommended brake fluid and change intervals for the best results.
Not Checking Engine Oil Regularly
Regularly checking and changing your motorcycle’s engine oil is vital for its performance and longevity. Ignoring or putting off this task is a common motorcycle maintenance mistake you must avoid. The engine oil serves multiple crucial functions—it lubricates the engine’s moving parts, reduces friction, cools the engine, and helps keep it clean.
Going too long between oil changes leads to increased engine wear and tear, reduced performance, and in extreme cases, engine failure. Make it a habit to check your engine oil level weekly and change the oil based on the motorcycle manufacturer’s recommended intervals or at least every 3,000–5,000 miles.
Skipping Regular Cleaning
Regular motorcycle cleaning may seem purely cosmetic, but it’s more than just aesthetics. By cleaning, you’re preserving the bike’s overall performance and longevity. Dust, dirt, and grime build up over time, and if left unattended, they seep into essential parts of your motorcycle, causing wear and tear.
Particularly, your bike’s chain, brakes, and cooling system are susceptible to contaminants. Incorporate a thorough cleaning session into your maintenance routine. Use a gentle, motorcycle-safe cleanser and focus on the dirt-prone areas.
Rinse off the soap with water and dry thoroughly, as leaving water on metal causes rust. Afterward, give your bike a good wax for that shiny finish and added layer of protection.
Disregarding Battery Maintenance
Your bike’s battery is its powerhouse, supplying the necessary juice to start the engine and power all electrical components. When neglected, the battery degrades over time, resulting in poor performance or even failure to start. It’s essential to regularly check your battery for any signs of corrosion, leakage, or damage and ensure it is fully charged.
If you don’t ride your motorcycle regularly, consider investing in a trickle charger to keep the battery topped up. Remember, a well-maintained battery ensures a dependable ride every time.
Forgetting About Air Filters
Air filters prevent dust and debris from entering your engine, which is crucial in maintaining optimal combustion and fuel efficiency. Over time, these filters become clogged, reducing air intake and engine performance.
Make it a priority to inspect your air filters regularly and clean or replace them as necessary. Usually, it’s a good practice to replace air filters every 10,000–15,000 miles, but check your motorcycle’s owner manual for specific guidance.
Avoiding Regular Inspections
Avoiding regular inspections is an easy trap to fall into, but a comprehensive checkup of your motorcycle helps you spot and address issues before they turn into costly repairs. It’s smart to get into the routine of performing a walk-around inspection of your bike before each ride.
During these inspections, check the lights, horn, and mirror adjustments, look for leaks or damages, and listen for any unusual noises when you start the engine. Additionally, bring your motorcycle in for professional servicing annually or after every 4,000 miles to ensure a thorough inspection of all parts and systems.
Not Checking Lights and Reflectors
Underestimating the importance of lights and reflectors on your motorcycle is a critical mistake affecting your safety and visibility on the road. Lights—headlight, taillight, and signal lights—help you see the road clearly and make you visible to other motorists. Meanwhile, reflectors enhance your visibility in low-light conditions.
It’s not uncommon for riders to forget to regularly check and replace these components, leading to decreased visibility and increased risk on the road. Regularly check all lights and reflectors in your pre-ride routine. Ensure they are functioning correctly and replace any burned-out or damaged lights. Consider upgrading to LED motorcycle headlights that last longer and improve your visibility. Additionally, clean your lights and reflectors to ensure maximum brightness.
Keeping your motorcycle in top shape is easy with consistent care and a little attention to detail. Sidestep the frequent mistakes outlined above with regular checks and a proactive maintenance routine. Remember, the key to a safe, enjoyable ride lies in the health of your motorcycle, staying ahead of the curve, and enjoying the thrill of riding.