Motorcycle Maintenance And Servicing - Timeline Included
Motorcycle maintenance and servicing
Maintaining your motorcycle is extremely important. There is a difference between motorcycle maintenance (consistently needed) and replacing parts that have failed or worn out (1 time occurrences). Included in motorcycle maintenance are scheduled servicing requirements for your particular motorcycle. There are 3 options when it comes to maintaining your motorcycle, doing the work yourself, paying a motorcycle mechanic to do it for you or a combination of both. If you can do some of the maintenance yourself, you can save money and it help keep you closer and more connected with your machine. There’s no pressure to do any of this maintenance yourself, especially if you lack the knowledge, tools, time or space to do so…but keep in mind every motorcycle rider should at least keep their machine clean, tyre pressures correct and conduct a quick walk around the bike before riding (pre-ride checklist).
Getting the specific motorcycle workshop manual for your bike will provide information and instructions for all the maintenance tasks required to keep your machine in good operating condition from the basic to the more advanced maintenance. It will list the servicing intervals and requirements for your specific motorcycle. The manual will also help you assess what you can do yourself, and what you need a professional to do for you. Be aware that a strict service schedule applies to new motorcycles to avoid voiding a new motorcycle warranty.
Separating motorcycle maintenance into 2 separate sections (basic and more advanced maintenance) will make it easier to decide what you can do yourself depending on your experience with machinery and the tools/space you have on hand. These sections are listed below, but first let’s have a quick chat about washing your motorcycle.
Washing a motorcycle
Washing your motorcycle is best done at home with a garden hose, 2 buckets and some bike wash. This is so you can take your time and avoid using a high pressure hose. If you lack the space the local car wash will have to do, just be careful using the high pressure hose…avoid using it on your chain and the electricals. Afterwards give the bike a quick wipe down with a shamy or micro-fibre towel to dry avoiding streak marks. If you plan on cleaning and lubing the chain as well, best to clean the chain as you clean the motorcycle, then lube the chain once its clean and dry.
The 2 bucket system – This is designed to keep your cleaning sponge clean and free of dirt particles that may scratch the paint. Fill one bucket with the bike wash, then the other bucket with clean water. Dunk the sponge in the clean water first to rinse off any dirt, then dunk in the bike wash bucket and get cleaning. Repeat this process to keep your sponge free of dirt.
For a more comprehensive guide on washing a motorcycle, click here.
Basic motorcycle maintenance with minimal tools
Starting from the easiest tasks lets list the basic motorcycle maintenance your motorcycle needs, with minimum knowledge and need for tools.
Adjusting tyre pressure
This can be done at most fuel stops if you don’t have an air-compressor/tyre pressure gage combo or pop into the local motorcycle mechanic (a good one will do it for free).
Adjusting fluid levels
A top up may be necessary, make sure you use the same type/brand of fluid, if you’re not sure of the brand or type just replace it.
Clean and lube chain
This task is much easier to do with a motorcycle rear stand, but not impossible to do without. Chain specific cleaner, lube and clean rags required. This step is best done when washing your motorcycle.
A torque wrench with the correct size socket required, make sure the adjustment is even on both sides of the motorcycle. If you are unsure of the correct torque or chain slack required, its best to seek a professionals help.
More advanced motorcycle maintenance including servicing
Many riders will outsource this maintenance and/or servicing due to not having the knowledge, tools, space or time. These tasks are super important and need to be done correctly and will require specific knowledge and tools, so lacking the knowledge, confidence or tools to finish the job right may play a part in hiring a professional motorcycle mechanic to do these tasks. Please refer to your motorcycle workshop manual for more in-depth information about these tasks. Here is a list of more advanced maintenance needed, usually conducted at scheduled service intervals:
- Adjust suspension
- Clean out/ replace air filter
- Coolant flush and replacement
- Oil change
- Changing tyres
- Brake fluid change and bleed
- Replacing chain and sprockets
- Replacing spark plugs
- Replace fork seals, change fork oil
- Replace steering head bearings
- Inspect and possible adjust valve timing and clearance
Timeline of motorcycle maintenance including generalised service schedule
Note: This is a generalised guide of recommended maintenance and service timeline/schedule for your motorcycle. Timeline may differ depending on motorcycle brand and age so refer to your motorcycle manual for confirmation.
Daily or each fuel stop
- Check engine level/transmission oil
- Check brake and clutch fluid level
- Check Brake lights, blinkers and headlights
- Check tyre pressure and condition
- Check hand and foot controls and switches
- Don’t forget the Pre-ride Checklist (click for download)
500 Miles or 1 month
- Wash the motorcycle
- Inspect, clean and lube the chain (this may need to be done sooner)
5000 miles or 6-12 months – Scheduled service
- Engine oil and oil filter replacement (important)
- Air filter check/clean
- Inspect and possibly replace transmission oil
- Inspect carburettor/throttle body
- Lubricate Cables
- A thorough inspection of all aspects of the motorcycle
- Tires may need to be replaced depending on type and wear
10000-15000 miles or 1-2 years – Scheduled service
- Inspect and possibly replace brake pads
- Inspect and possibly replace air filter
- Inspect and possibly replace brake fluid
- Inspect and possibly replace coolant
- Inspect and possibly replace steering head bearings
- Inspect Valve clearance and valve timing
- Replace spark plugs
- Replace air filter
Always conduct a pre-ride check over your motorcycle to ensure everything is in order and the motorcycle is safe to ride. This takes 1 minute and will alert you to any major issues such as a flat tire or fluid leaks. Getting into this habit every time you ride help keep you and your machine in good condition. Click Motorcycle Riding Checklist for the free PDF pre-ride checklist download!
Any motorcycle will need constant maintenance to keep it in good condition. It is much easier to keep your machine in good condition by following the motorcycle maintenance timeline and not putting off important steps. Never skip oil changes, your motorcycle will run better and last longer with fresh oil every 5000 miles, or 3000 rough or hard miles. All parts of a motorcycle will slowly wear out at different intervals making each scheduled service important not only for the parts that need replacing and cleaning, but for a general check over everything to help avoid any nasty surprises. Remember to prepare your motorcycle for storage if you plan on leaving it for long periods of time.