When you become a motorcyclist, you will inevitably become your own mechanic. As long as you have the shop manual for your specific bike, you have all the information you need to work on it. However, you can also find general motorcycle maintenance manuals out there that do a good job of outlining maintenance procedures. Let’s look at some motorcycle maintenance procedures that you can do yourself.
Oil changes are the foundation of pretty much any vehicular maintenance. The procedure is generally the same for almost all motorcycles, but certain models may have odd, specific steps for you to follow. Either way, it is an easy procedure that you can perform in minutes with a motorcycle stand (or your motorcycle’s center stand, if it has one), a socket set, a strap wrench, drain pan and funnel.
Having brakes that function properly is absolutely essential, not only to the operation of the motorcycle, but to your safety as well. Maintenance requires the replacement of the physical pads or shoes and the brake fluid. After standing your bike upright as in the oil change, you can change everything with a socket set, hex keys, screwdrivers and pliers. For fluid draining and bleeding, a bleeder kit will make things much easier for you.
Air filters prevent unwanted dust and dirt particles from getting into your airbox. Since said particles end up on the filter itself, you will need to change or clean it periodically. Getting to your motorcycle’s filter will require removal of either the fuel tank or the seat. Cleaning is generally an easy process. You may physically dislodge some dirt, but other types of dirt will need a soft brush or compressed air. Having the type of air filter you can clean will save you the cost of having to buy a new one. These are impregnated with oil, so you’ll first need to clean them with a solvent, and then re-apply the oil.
Your motorcycle will not run properly without a decent set of spark plugs. In most cases, you will need to remove the fuel tank and airbox (if it is underneath the fuel tank), but with certain engine configurations, you may not need to remove anything. Use a dedicated spark plug socket because it is designed to make plug removal safe and easy. A spark plug tool will make it easier for you to both check the gap and adjust it accordingly. Consult your manual for the correct gap information. There are a couple of extra steps you can take upon reinstalling your spark plugs: First, you can apply a dab of copper grease on the plug threads installation and make future removal easier; Secondly you can sparingly use dielectric grease on the inside of the spark plug boot and on the plug’s ceramic part to aid in future removal and insulation.
Control cables are constantly moving, so it is important to ensure that they receive adequate lubrication, or they could break at very inconvenient moments. This applies to the clutch cable and the throttle cables. You may need a pair of pliers to help you line up the slots on the cable adjusters, but you may also be able to remove the top end of the cable solely by hand. Use a cable lubrication tool to secure the cable and spray in a specific lubricant that will flow down into the cable tube. You can also find lubricant that comes with its own needle applicator that makes it a bit easier. Some say that it is ideal to disconnect both ends of the cable to ensure maximum coverage, but you may apply lubricant through the top end of the tube in a pinch.
Once you get these processes down and get more comfortable with getting your hands in and on your motorcycle, you may very well find yourself taking on more complex, in-depth procedures, from changing your chain and sprockets, to even changing your clutch plates. You may not become a certified mechanic, but your classroom will be your garage (or living room, kitchen, etc.) and you will earn your stripes through the grease stains on your face, bloodied knuckles, and a fresh vocabulary of profanities that might surprise you. Best of all, you will have absolute comfort in the knowledge that by your own hands, you have kept your motorcycle in optimal condition.