A guide to motorcycle maintenance

Unless you’re mechanically minded, the thought of maintaining your bike yourself might sound a bit daunting. However, with the right tools to go with the right frame of mind, it’s possible for even the most novice rider to undertake some simple, regular maintenance.

Here’s a few of the ways that you can keep your bike safe to ride and help to reduce the chance of having to make a claim.

A simples guide to motorcycle maintenance

  • A regular wash

Yes, a good old fashioned, wash, dry and polish is top of the list. This isn’t simply to keep you looking good on the road either (though it will help with that too!) Rather, by washing your machine regularly you’ll be taking a look at your bike in ways that you wouldn’t ordinarily do.

This means you’re more likely to spot that something is loose, worn or missing. The humble wash and dry therefore is a good way to give your bike the once over.

  • The tyres

Some experts advise checking your tyres at least weekly, while others say they check their wheels and tyres before every ride. Such is the importance, particularly when it comes to tyre pressure. An under- or over-inflated tyre could affect your handling and braking, making for an unsafe ride.

Investing in an air compressor will give you accurate readings at home and prevent you from needing to visit the garage forecourt regularly.

While you’re checking the tyre pressure, check the tyre itself for any signs of wear, cracks, cuts or scratches.

  • The chain

Incorrect chain tension could not only lead to poor ride quality, but to more substantial damage to the chain, sprocket or even rear wheel. As every bike is a little different, it’s worth having a look at the user’s manual before undertaking chain tensioning. Such work, although relatively simple, still needs you to know what you’re doing.

Additionally, keep your bike chain well lubricated with proper chain wax or oil… not too much or you’ll have an oil stripe up your back!

  • The battery

As a minimum, you should check your battery each time you do an oil change. You need to ensure that they’re tightly fitted and free from any cracks.

These days, many modern batteries are sealed so they can’t be topped up. If your battery is of the sort that needs topping up, be careful when handling it – you don’t want to come into contact with any of the acid that’s inside. If the level is low, top up with de-ionised water before placing it on charge.

  • The oil

Your bike will benefit from regular oil changes – as a guide it’s recommended to be every 3 months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes around first. As bikes might differ, check the manual but usually changing oil is relatively straight forward. Place a tray under the bike and remove the sump plug. The oil will then drain away and this will allow you to change the oil filter too. After replacing, refitting the plug and refilling, run the bike and test for leaks.

  • The cables

A regular part of your maintenance regime should always include checking your cabling. Make sure all cables are in good condition with no fraying or other damage. Adding a little lubricant occasionally can help ensure that the cables don’t dry out, which would impair the function of your clutch or throttle.

  • The nuts and bolts

Yes, quite literally. Make a habit of checking all visible nuts, bolts, and pins for tightness. Don’t rely on your fingers but use a proper spanner or wrench to ensure you’ve the right tension. Loose nuts and bolts can work themselves loose which could have unpleasant consequences when you’re riding.

Regular maintenance can help small issues deteriorating into something more serious. Checks that cost very little other than your time could save you a great deal of money by avoiding a more serious failure.

Unless you’re a mechanic yourself it’s worth booking your bike in for regular servicing, particularly if you’ve any large trips planned or in periods of extreme weather conditions. A well-maintained and well stored bike is a safer bike.

All of these things can help to reduce the risk of you being involved in an accident and the need to make a claim on your insurance, which is certainly a good thing. If you’re looking to save money on your bike insurance, read our Motorbike FAQs and start comparing. We have a range of insurance providers to choose from so we’re sure we can find the right cover at the right price for you. 

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