Motorcycles are a fun, economical, and reliable mode of transportation, but if their maintenance is ignored, they can become not so fun, costly, and unreliable. To ensure your motorcycle stays in top working condition, follow your motorcycle owner’s manual for regular maintenance requirements.
Most new motorcycles have a break-in period of about 500-1000 miles, and then require an oil change. Most oil changes after the initial break-in are anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 miles or every 3-6 months (whichever comes first), depending on the bike. Oil is the lifeblood of your motorcycle, and this is probably the most important aspect of maintaining your bike so that it lasts for years without costly repairs. If you don’t do anything else, make sure you change your oil at regular intervals to avoid damage to the bike or run the risk of having the engine seize up.
All motorcycle owner’s manuals have a complete listing of maintenance recommendations, and should be followed. The following lists contain the minimum maintenance for most motorcycles.
Everytime you Ride Inspection
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends a pre-ride “TCLOCS” inspection as follows:
- T – Tires and wheels – Check the tires for wear, cracks, bulges, embedded objects and proper air pressure. Check the wheels including rims, bearings, spokes and seals. Check the brakes for function and brake pads for wear
- C – Controls – Check the condition of the levers, pedals, cables, and hoses. Check the operation of the throttle
- L – Lights – Check the battery, head light, tail lights, brake lights, turn signals, lenses and reflectors, wiring and mirrors
- O – Oil – Check the oil, gaskets, seals, breathers, hoses, cylinders, and fuel
- C – Chassis – Check frame, suspension, chain or belt and fasteners
- S – Stands – Check the kickstand or center stand
If the TCLOCS inspection is done every time you ride, you are much more likely to identify issues that can become a problem by giving you the opportunity to make the any needed adjustments or repairs before you find yourself stranded on the side of the road.
Once Per Year or Before and After Storage
- Check your brake pad thickness
- Replace brake fluid
- Check fuel filter and replace if necessary; inspect fuel lines for cracks or other damage
- Check the electrical cables and connections for cracks, corrosion or other damage, and replace as needed
- Clean and apply a protective agent to your seat to prevent against cracks and tears
- Wash and polish
Washing your Motorcycle
Washing your motorcycle regularly is another essential part of maintaining your motorcycle. When you wash your bike, you are not only making it look good, but you are ensuring dirt, dust and grime don’t get into the movable parts causing deterioration or failure. Washing the bike regularly also gives you the opportunity to look at all of the parts of the bike more closely than usual.
Motorcycle maintenance is the responsibility of rider, whether you use a mechanic or you are the do-it-yourself kind of person. Regular maintenance will help prevent costly or dangerous damage to your investment, as well as deepen your relationship with your motorcycle.