Daily Motorcycle Maintenance- What you need to know
Routine motorcycle maintenance is often a term that many riders overlook when getting a motor bike. These machines have advanced in performance and quality from 50 years ago and are only getting better as time progresses but it's no secret that they still require more maintenance and upkeep than a car, after all your safety in your own hands and a little bit of effort can mean the difference between a fun Sunday ride, a breakdown or even worse, an accident.
You don't have to be a well trained mechanic these days to make sure your bike is ready for the road, I remember I once traveled for 500 days on a trip from Alaska to Argentina on my Kawasaki KLR 650, and I didn't even know how to change a tire, but my daily inspection helped keep the bike in tip top shape and made sure I was able to complete the trip. Today I'll share my routine for daily motorcycle maintenance that you should follow to help prevent and make sure you have a safe and fun ride every time, and it might even save you expensive repairs later on down the road.
Daily Pre-check and Inspection Routine
Tires - Proper tire pressure is one of the most overlooked items on a motorcycle, but an incredibly important one to make sure your bike handles better and keeps you safe on the corners and high speeds. Before jumping on the bike, give the tires a quick hard kick, it's a fast way to see they have some air in there at least; a step up would be getting your gauge and properly measuring the pressure. I find even using your hand to grip and squeeze smaller sized tires can help indicate if they need to be aired up.
Liquids - We often assume because most liquids and lubricators on the bike are in a sealed environment then they don't evaporate and deteriorate over time, this is false. Stop and go traffic, heat, or rough conditions like head on wind will stress your machine to the point of burning through oil and brake fluid quicker than usual. Take a quick look through the glass reservoir for your oil and break fluids while keeping your bike on a level surface to see if they are within proper specs to help prevent a catastrophic break down or dangerous braking conditions, and don't forget your radiator levels as well that will be in a plastic container. Also look to see if there are any leaks on the floor before you go to spot any potential problems.
Mechanical Components - Be sure to take a quick look at your brake pads by kneeling down to see how much meat is left on the pads. And while you are there look at your chain or shaft drive to see if any debris is lurking around, or if the chain needs to be lubricated or tightened. A step up would be to touch the chain to test for lubrication and hanging a test weight on your chain to test for proper tension. Finally do a quick pull on the throttle and brake levelers to test for "free play" and turn the handle bars to make sure everything is free to move around, and give those mirrors a quick stress test and adjustment to be safe.
Safety Indicators - Before heading out the road, I turn on the bike and I test my headlight, high beams, my turn signals, and horn while still in the garage. When I am alone, this dark environment helps me see if all the lights are working properly without asking anyone for help. A quick look at your license plate and registration sticker, if you need it in your state, help keep you current and visible to avoid an annoying time wasting stop by the police.
Electrical - There's no easy way to inspect your electrical system including wires and battery without taking things apart. The best you can do quickly is take a visual look to see if any wires are exposed or have been rubbed bare and when you start up your bike listen very carefully to get a feel if the battery struggled to get the motor going or if it sounded strong. This will help indicate that you may need to re-charge, re-fill or even change your battery soon if you hear it's weak or struggling.
By following these quick daily techniques and steps, you will ensure the proper maintenance of your motorcycle and your safety when you head out for the day on your weekend ride or your trip around the world!