Imagine cruising the open road on your motorcycle, enjoying the July sun, blue sky, and desert landscape. Nothing can come between you and your bike. Except maybe a tire blowout. Or a kinked chain. Or a paper-thin brake pad.
Failing to regularly maintenance your motorcycle will not only cost you more money when you take it into the shop to get it serviced, it could be the cause of a major accident the next time you take it out for a drive. So here are five quick and easy tips to keep your bike in great working condition to help you stay safe on the road and avoid the high costs of repairs in the future.
1. Keep an eye on those tires
Make sure to check your bike’s tire pressure once a week. To find the correct pressure, consult your bike manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation. This number will represent correct pressure for cold tires, so check your tires before going for a ride to get an accurate read.
It’s important to check your tires weekly because an under-inflated tire can cause premature tire wear, making you buy new tires more often. Low tire pressure could also lead to a tire blowout, endangering you and other motorists on the road.
2. Be generous to your brakes
Routinely check the thickness of your brake pads and your brake fluid level. This quick check can be done every time you fill up at the gas station. If you do not replace your brake pads when they get thin, your ability to stop quickly and smoothly will suffer, and you could do irreparable damage to your brake disc, resulting in a very costly repair.
For instructions on how to refill your brake fluid, consult your bike manual. Always use a new bottle of brake fluid for each refill because unsealed brake fluid will accumulate moisture with time. And remember to be careful when pouring—brake fluid will eat away the paint on your bike if spilled.
3. Keep that battery alive
A good battery is the difference between riding your bike to work or having to take the bus, so make sure that you take good care of it. Make sure to charge your battery when it wears out. Use a voltmeter to test when this is necessary. Routinely check each month for loose or corroded connections. Try scrubbing them with a mixture of baking soda and water using a toothbrush to clean off built up corrosion. For more instructions on how to prolong your battery’s life, check out this easy monthly check list.
4. Top if off often
Making sure your bike has enough oil and scheduling regular oil changes is the cheapest way to prolong the life of your bike’s engine. Check the oil about once a week—or after filling up at the gas station. Consult your bike’s manual or a trusted mechanic for recommended oils for your bike’s engine. Keep in mind that even though synthetic oil is more expensive up front, your bike will require fewer oil changes, which will save you money in the long run. Feeling brave and want to save some money? Learn how to change your bike’s oil yourself.
5. Grease, Grease, Grease
Perhaps the most important (and most overlooked) thing you can do to keep your bike running smoothly is to keep your chain and sprockets lubricated. Using spray grease, spray your chain liberally on both sides. Wipe away excess grease and don’t forget to spin the back tire to distribute the oil onto the sprocket. This process is best done after a ride when your chain is still warm. Ideally you will grease your chain after each ride, but if you are tight on time you can get by with lubricating after each gas fill up. But don’t forget, because frequently replacing your bike’s chain is not something you want to pay for.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the things you can do to keep your bike running in great shape. But it is a quick and easy start to help you avoid the costs of frequent visits to the auto repair shop and to keep you a little safer on your next journey. Check out even more helpful tips on motorcycle maintenance here. Happy trails.
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