If you’re new to riding, you’ll want to brush up on your beginner motorcycle maintenance. Trust me, you won’t be sorry!
If you aren’t a gearhead, then performing maintenance on your motorcycle is probably the last thing you want to be doing when you could just be riding it, right?
But, I like to think of maintenance as a form of therapy, the ultimate ‘me time’ activity. I know not everyone feels that way, though.
Still, basic motorcycle maintenance is a necessary part of being a bike owner. It takes more than just knowing how to change motorcycle oil to service your bike properly, which is why I’m taking it upon myself to list a few mechanic tips for new motorcycle riders. And who knows? You might even start looking forward to basic motorcycle maintenance after we’re done here.
Make motorcycle maintenance for beginners more efficient. Get these checklist items before you get started:
All you Do-It-Yourself-ers need to get your hands on a manufacturer’s manual, plain and simple. These manuals are chock-full of step-by-step instructions and guidelines that new riders *especially* will find useful. Ideally, you should have a manual handy for every bike you own because, as we all know, motorcycles are like snowflakes...
Just kidding, but you get the idea. All motorcycles share some common parts, like batteries, but the way you service those parts is going to depend on the maintenance guidelines laid out by the manufacturer. So, beginners, skim the pages before you take an Allen key to your bike and all hell breaks loose (and that goes for experienced riders who’ve just bought a new bike as well).
You’ll also want to invest in a rear stand if you haven’t already. They’re handier than you might think, especially if you find yourself having to repair or replace the bike’s tires or drive chain.
If you own a bike, knowing how to change the motorcycle oil is a rite of passage. It’s pretty much the first item on every DIY mechanic’s maintenance checklist, so always make sure you have enough motorcycle oil handy before you get down to business (and, yes, the type of oil matters).
You could disassemble your entire bike with a simple wrench set and a few Allen keys, and that’s kind of scary when you think about it…
And this leads me to my final checklist item.
Even a plain ol’ camera will do. The point is, you need a camera to document the maintenance process, especially if you have to take your bike apart. Snap a few pics of your motorcycle before you even get started, and then take a few every time you complete a step in the manufacturer’s manual. You’ll be able to track your progress (and your bike parts) much better this way.
Top it all off with a few cold ones and some garage tunes, and you’ll be having a grand ol’ time before you know it!
Once you have all the supplies and a space to work, inspect your bike’s:
- Oil. Should be light brown in color and translucent; if it’s black and gritty, change it. Check the manufacturer’s manual to determine the frequency of these oil changes. And always check for LEAKS!
- Tires. The wear indicators will tell you when it’s time to replace your tires, but you should check the tire pressure regularly, because even the slightest change can alter the feel of your ride.
- Brakes. When you inspect your brakes, you’re checking the brake fluid and pads. Just be careful not to get debris in the fluid or replace the brake pads too soon (they’re thinner than the brake pads in your car). And, again, check for leakage.
- Bearings. Normally, motorcycle vibrations are a good thing, but if your bike is making any knocks, rattles, or unnecessary rumbles, you’ll want to give those bearings a little TLC.
- Drive chain. At the risk of sending everyone’s minds into the gutter, your drive chain should be tight and properly lubricated. There, I said it. All jokes aside, though, a properly lubricated chain won’t bind up, so remove the grime and lube it on up!
- Lights. Easily the most overlooked feature on your motorcycle, your brake lights and headlights must be fully functioning. No cracks. No flickers. No problem.
You may need assistance to perform some of these tasks, so ask! In fact, if it’s your first time servicing your bike, I’d recommend enticing a buddy to come over and guide you through the steps of basic motorcycle maintenance. I usually lead with, “Beer and pizza at my place,” and that seems to do that trick.
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