Motorcycle maintenance tips

Given you’re on two wheels it’s essential you periodically carry out some basic checks to keep you safe and your pride and joy in top condition.

Here are our top tips:

  • Lights; always ensure all of your lights including indicators and brake light are working correctly, clean and free from damage. Occasionally a headlight can go out of adjustment and either be a few degrees too low or too high. The easiest way to check this is drive up to a wall or garage door at approximately 8 metres away and identify where the centre of the beam sits, it should be at the bottom of the wall / shining on the floor. Another clue is if you are constantly being flashed by other road users the beam is usually too high. If in any doubt come and see us or go to your local dealer or MOT station who will check and adjust accordingly.
  • Tyres; with only two small contact patches on the tarmac instead of four it’s very important to ensure your tyres are in good condition and the pressures are set correctly. For motorcycles over 50 cc, the legal tyre tread depth is no less than 1 mm around the entire circumference of the tyre and across the centre three quarters width of the tread pattern of the tyre. Also, your tyre will deflate over time, more so in cold conditions. So, it'simportant the are check reguarly, at least once a month. The correct pressures can be found in your owners handbook or online.
  • Chain; the majority of motorcycles have chain and sprockets as their final drive that transfers engine power from the gearbox to the rear wheel. It’s really important to maintain, check and adjust the chain regularly, if you’re using your bike daily, we’d suggest a weekly check but if just weekend use once a month should be sufficient. Most sports and naked road bikes require chain free play or ‘slack’ to be set at 30–40 mm while dirt bikes and adventure bikes with long suspension travel may need (35–50 mm) of slack. Always check your owner’s manual for the correct adjustment. It’s also advisable to lightly lubricate the chain with quality aerosol chain lube every 400-600 miles to ensure peak performance and a long life. Lubricate the chain after riding, not before. This allows time for the solvents in the spray to evaporate before the bike is used again, and lets the lubricant penetrate the link properly.
  • Suspension; one common problem with motorcycle handling can be caused by ‘the enthusiastic tinkerer’ who can be tempted to adjust the front and rear suspension rebound, compression and ride height because the suspension has adjustment! From experience we strongly recommend ensuring that your bikes front and rear suspension are set to ‘factory settings’ these can be found in the owners handbook. If you feel the factory settings are not right for you, ask your local franchise dealer for advice or for them to recommend a suspension set up expert. 
  • Battery; most modern motorcycles are fitted with some form of electronic security. No matter how low the voltage drain of the security is declared to be your battery will discharge over time, regardless. If you have a power supply where your bike is kept, connect a good quality battery tender that will keep the battery in peak performance ready for that next ride out!
  • Cleaning; unfortunately, motorcycles are generally not built to be corrosion resistant. As such, it’s important to clean them regular particularly if you ride in the winter when the roads have been salted, if left unclean your bike will look like a ships anchor in weeks! Regular road dirt is best removed with a hosepipe, not a jet wash and warm water with automotive shampoo, soft sponge and a brush for the wheels. Avoid getting water in the end of the exhaust and on exposed electronic engine parts! Once washed microfibre cloths can be used to dry. Once dry WD40 on a cloth is excellent for removing stubborn chain lube from the rear wheel, avoid getting any WD40 on or near brakes, always spray on to a cloth not on to the wheel! It can also be used on other tough grime elsewhere on the bike even paintwork. But again, avoid contact with brakes. Then, if you have time a wax polish of all paintwork and chrome will preserve the beauty of your bike.
  • Servicing; ensure you have your bike serviced at the correct manufacturer recommended intervals as this will ensure peak reliability performance and safety at all times. It’s recommended to use your main dealer while your bike is under manufacturer’s warranty. However, always ask for their ‘hourly labour rate’ as often this is over inflated as a profit centre and hidden in menu price servicing. A fair main agent hourly labour rate is between £75 and £85 including vat per hour.

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