If you’ve had your motorcycle for a few years, then you have most likely had to perform some routine maintenance on it yourself. Sure, you could take it to a mechanic whenever something goes wrong, but part of the allure of bike ownership is the ability to take care of small things on your own so that you are better connected with your motorcycle. So, with that in mind, let’s go over five motorcycle maintenance tips to keep you on the road:
#1 Check Your Oil
There are a lot of moving parts on your bike, and they run smoothly because of the oil running through the system. However, as the oil cycles through, it gets dirty and less effective, which is why you have to change it. Learn how to change your own oil, and you can save a lot of money in the long run. Ask your local gas station or auto repair shop how to dispose of used motor oil. A lot of shops will let you dump the oil into their collection drums, free of charge.
Changing the oil at a truck stop somewhere in Ohio.
#2 Maintain Your Tires
Whether you have Metzeler tires for motorcycles (like me) or another brand, they will wear down eventually. As they lose their traction, you have to stay on top of replacing them, lest you get into an accident on the road. For safety reasons, don’t let them get bald before you swap them out. If you’ve followed me on my adventures for a while, you’ll know my bad luck with getting flat tires. Play it safe- don’t ride on a plugged tire for too long. Replace it!
Replacing the tires and chain on my old KLR650.
#3 Adjust Your Clutch
If you start to notice that shifting gears is not going as smoothly as it has before, you might want to tighten your clutch. However, don’t tighten it too much as it could lead to other problems. Find the sweet spot and be sure to check on it regularly.
Reassembling my CB350 in the kitchen.
#4 Clean Your Filters
As you ride, dirt and debris get sucked into your air filter, so make sure that it’s as clean as possible and change it often. A dirty air filter will affect your fuel efficiency and could cause other problems with your motorcycle. Imagine trying to run a marathon while trying to breath through a dense sponge. I imagine that’s what our motorcycles feel like when we forget to clean the air filter.
Not a filter. 😉
#5 Clean Your Chain
The bike chain is the link between your engine and the wheels, so making sure that it’s clean will help your ride run much better overall. Wash it with paraffin and lubricate it with motor oil to keep it running in pristine condition. When you clean and adjust your chain, be sure to look at your sprockets. You can get a lot of life out of a set of sprockets, but when they’re out of spec, they can wear out the chain much quicker. Take it from me, I’ve destroyed my fair share of sprockets and chains on my old KLR650!
Replacing chain and sprockets on my old KLR650.
Overall, go through your bike’s manual and check all of the systems that you feel comfortable with on a regular basis and if necessary, replace the required parts. I’m about to get my old 1972 Honda CB350 back on the road, and by searching for aftermarket Honda motorcycle parts online, I’ve been able to find everything needed to get the motorcycle in tiptop shape!