Maintenance

Readiness is not just gettng ready, but staying ready.

Clean your bike

Won't a dirty bike run as well as a clean one?

How shiny a motorcycle is doesn’t affect how well it runs, so why bother keeping it clean? Won't a dirty bike run as well as a clean one? It sounds great in theory, but in practice a clean bike means:

  • You see problems. If you clean your bike regularly, you are more likely to see developing problems, like a nail in a tire, or a dry chain.
  • Mechanics respect it. If you put your bike in for service, the mechanic sees if it is clean or not. A filthy bike suggests you don’t care. If you don’t care, why should the mechanic? However if it is clean, you check it regularly, so they are more likely to do a good job.
  • You feel good about the bike. Finally, a clean bike makes you feel more positive to your motorcycle

So in conclusion, clean your motorcycle!

Riding Check

Some suggest you check tires, oil, chain tension etc every time before you ride. I agree, it’s a great idea. But what if you never find a problem, as occurs with a regularly serviced bike? It becomes a pointless chore, as mostly they are ok. Then you dont bother checking anything.

Before you ride, always clean visor and mirrors

Every time I ride, there is one thing I check without fail: that my visor and mirrors are clear. If not I clean them. Good vision is so important that this is not an option. Even if I am late, it only takes a moment to breathe on and polish a mirror or visor. Seeing is surviving, so never set off without clear vision.

Check your tires

My main weekly check is that the tires are not slowly deflating. If tires go down suddenly, you can tell, but if they go down slowly, you may not notice. You need a tire gauge to check the pressures. It only takes moment to check tires. If your ride feels a little “spongy”, check your tires right away.

Service checks

Easy things you can do to maintain your bike is change the oil, spark plugs, air filter and grease the rear chain. The latter is especially easy, given you have grease, and especially important, as a dry chain can break. However every six months or so, your bike needs a maintenance service and tune anyway, and unless you are a mechanic, this means an expert with the right equipment. Hence they might as well do the other stuff as well. However a problem with mechanics is they may promise a lot but do little. Service franchises pressure mechanics to charge as much as they can while doing as little as possible. This is what they call "efficiency", but what you call "being ripped off".

One way to handle this is to use the maintenance schedule in the bike manual, which tells how often to do what. Ask the mechanics to do a particular schedule. Then when you get the bike back, go down each point and ask if they did it. Check if you can, e.g. you can see if they put grease on the rear chain. Then ask them to sign or stamp the service in your manual.

If they replaced something, ask for the replaced parts, like spark plugs, as then you can look at them and see how bad they were. You are entitled to get these parts, as they are yours.

Maintain your battery

The battery is the “heart” of a bike, and a flat battery is like a bike heart attack. To keep your battery charged, fit a battery tender. You fit wires to your battery terminals, giving an external plug point for convenient charging. To charge the battery, just plug the charger into the battery plug point at the end of each day. No need to take off the side cover, or lift the seat, to get at the battery terminals. With a battery tender, its just plug and play. Also, the battery tender senses when the battery is charged and stops charging.

Waterproofing

Once a year, I waterproof my gear, usually on a sunny day in summer. Over time, jackets, gloves, boots and leggings tend to leak. They mainly leak at the joints. There are a variety of waterproofing products. I prefer the solid ones you melt on with warmth, like Snowseal, over the spray on types, which don’t seem to last as long. You rub the proofing into your gear and it keeps the water out.