Knowing your bike and how to take care of it is super important but it can be a bit overwhelming for many to know where to begin and what are the essentials. I've made a basic list below of what should be checked and how to do it but it's important to have your bike properly serviced annually too to keep her running well.
It's always good to have a manual to check specifics of your make of bike, most manuals can be downloaded to your phone and specific pages then saved specially. Check for your manual here https://haynes.com/en-gb/
There are always going to be more steps that can be added to this but I wanted to create a super basic list of the things that should be checked and done most often on your bike. If you have any more tips or tricks to add, leave a comment down below and I can add them in for others.
(These are in no particular order and Full Throttle Ireland takes no responsibility if you do something incorrect while maintaining your bike.)
One of the best ways to become properly acquainted with your bike is to regularly give it a good wash. I personally use the Nano Tech Motorcycle Clear (here) from Muc-Off because it’s quick and easy, along with the Motorcycle Protectantant (here) and some Turtle Wax. It’s important when you’re cleaning your bike to not just clean the body work, check your tire rims and chain too to prevent corrosion.
Should be checked weekly when the bike is cold. On some bikes it will tell you what your tire pressure should be on the rear hugger, if not then it should be in your manual (see point above.) It’s important to note that the recommended psi will be different for someone travelling alone vs if you’re taking a pillion too so keep an eye on that.
PSI - Pounds Per Square Inch, refers to the ideal pressure of your tires.
Have you ever been driving and suddenly you become aware of a strange whirring sound every few rotations? Chances are it could be that your chain is not at the correct level of tension. The best way to check your chain tension is to use a ruler. Lift the chain slightly, measure against ruler and gently see how far down it will go down. If it goes down further than the recommended level of tension in your manual then you need to adjust it. It’s important to oil or lubricate your chain often too, this really depends on how much you drive so if you’ve been riding a lot just keep an eye that your chain doesn’t get too dry. WD-40 and Muc-Off both have great selections of lube. To make sure that your chain is in the best condition you also need to clean it regularly too to get all the road gunk and old grease off it. I use a chain cleaner brush from Muc-Off and Chain Cleaner Spray.
Another reason why your manual is very important, it’ll tell you how often your oil should be changed and what kind of oil your motorbike takes. There will be a small porthole like window on the bottom side of your bike with two lines, ideally your oil level should be in between the two, make sure your bike is upright when checking the level.
Changing your oil is a pretty easy task. When your bike is warmed up (thus your oil is warm) turn off the bike and place a basin under where your oil is. Remove the drain plug and let the oil pour out and, once drained, replace it with the recommended one. Your manual will also tell you how often your oil filter should be changed.
If your brakes are becoming laggy it might be an opportunity to bleed them. There are a few hacks around this to get the job done quicker. When I’m bleeding my front break I tie a rubber band from the brake lever to my throttle making sure that pressure it maintained on the lever and leave it for a few hours. A quick search on Google will provide you with tonnes of sites where you can buy brake bleeder kits too.
It's also important to keep an eye on your break discs and make sure they're not too worn down. Consult your manual, youtube and your mechanic to make sure you know when they need to be changed and how to go about doing it.
These are some of the very basic steps in maintaining your bike. It’s important to consult your manual or dealer for some of the bigger jobs you’ll need to do yearly or when the need arises etc e.g. brake pads, spark plugs etc. Failing that there are also tonnes of videos done by mechanics on Youtube for various bikes. If you’re in doubt with any of these steps, ask a mechanic to show you and it's a good idea to take a video of it so you can do it yourself next time.