Do motorcycles need a lot of maintenance?
The motorcycle driving experience is unique, but what about the maintenance? If you’ve been on the fence about getting a motorcycle, then you’ll be happy with the answer. Motorcycle preventative maintenance is typically much simpler than that of cars. Motorcycles are smaller, have fewer parts that are easier to access, and are resultingly much easier to maintain. One point of maintenance many motorcycles require that cars do not is the chain. And the type of upkeep tasks they share are typically easier on motorcycles.1
Motorcycle maintenance checklist
Before you take your motorcycle out for that first ride of the season, use this motorcycle maintenance checklist to help keep yourself (and those around you) safe on the road.
- Start with fresh fuel1
If you didn’t drive your motorcycle all winter, the first thing to do is change the fuel. Gasoline gets stale when it sits in the tank too long. Use a siphon pump to get rid of any old gas, and then fill the tank with fresh fuel.
- Change the oil
Just as you need clean fuel, you also need to change the oil and replace the oil filter before you take your bike out for your first ride. Neglecting this step can affect the performance and longevity of your motorcycle.
- Check the battery life
Some riders disconnect their motorcycle batteries for the winter and recharge them every month or two. Once you reconnect the battery, you’re probably ready to roll. However, if it’s been sitting all winter long, you might have a dead battery on your hands. If it’s a fairly new battery, charging it up is fine. If it’s three or four years old, you may find it doesn’t keep a charge, or you might have a hard time charging it. In that case, you’re probably better off purchasing a new battery and playing it safe.
- Check your tires
Tires are some of the most important parts of any vehicle, so they deserve your time and attention. Check their air pressure to make sure it’s at a safe level for riding. You’ll also want to check your tread to determine if it’s still got enough depth to offer you sufficient traction. If your air pressure and tread are all set, then just look for any cracks or rot in the sidewall of the tires before moving on.
- Inspect your chain
Your bike’s chain is one of its most critical components, but constant exposure to the elements can cause it to deteriorate or become loose. Check it to ensure it’s still tight and well-lubricated. You may need to clean the chain and reapply lubricant.
- Get plenty of fluids
Oil and gas aren’t the only fluids your motorcycle depends on. Brake fluid and coolant are important for motorbike maintenance, but they can sometimes leak if your bike is left standing for a long period of time. Double-check your levels and refill or top them off. Or, flush out the old fluids and replace them with fresh fluids.
- Don't forget your cables
Oil and grease in your cable housing can dry up over time, and that can affect the performance of your clutch and throttle. Inspect your clutch, brakes, throttle, choke, and any other cables to ensure they’re still responsive and not frayed.
- Make your bike shine
As a final step, make sure you give your motorcycle a thorough cleaning. Not only does it protect your paint and make your bike look fantastic, but cleaning your bike frequently keeps it in better working condition2.
When should I service my motorcycle?
You want your bike to be ride-ready at all times! So how often should you service your motorcycle? You’ll need to change your oil and check your chain on a regular basis - every 6 months or 4,000 miles.
Your tire pressure should be checked more frequently, at least once a month. In the longer-term, you’ll need to tune your carburetor and flush your cooling system (if you have a water-cooled engine) every two years or so. You can do much of this maintenance yourself for lower cost, however some may prefer to let an expert handle it. A professional should also be consulted if more severe issues like engine trouble emerge.3
Motorcycle maintenance is an important part of staying safe on the road
Following this motorcycle safety inspection checklist helps ensure your bike is ready to take on the road. Without a helpful service checklist to refer to, properly maintaining your bike over time can become more difficult. More so, not having a well-cared for motorcycle on the road becomes less safe for you and those around you.
Before you take to the road, make sure you have a motorcycle insurance policy that meets your needs. Learn more about coverage options and get a quote today.
1https://motorcyclehabit.com/are-motorcycles-easier-to-maintain-than-cars-an-unbiased-guide/, Accessed April 2022.
2https://www.thedrive.com/news/44615/how-to-get-your-motorcycle-in-shape-for-spring, Accessed April 2022.
3https://motorcyclehabit.com/how-often-should-i-get-my-motorcycle-serviced/, Accessed April 2022.