Essential Advice for Motorcycle Maintenance
Changing the oil is one of the basic necessities of regular motorcycle maintenance and a great way to become familiar with the workings of your bike. But, before attempting any maintenance on your own, be sure to check your bike’s warranty information and read your owner’s manual for any special tools or techniques required to work on your motorcycle. Then, once you’ve organized your tools and workspace, follow these 10 easy steps for a flawless oil change:
- Warm up your motorcycle’s engine, turn it off, and make sure it’s securely on its stand. Ensure the bike cools down before touching any parts.
- Locate the oil plug, place a drain pan under the motorcycle, and remove the drain plug. Allow the oil to drain out of the engine.
- Remove the oil filter and allow the oil to drain out of the filter cavity. Some motorcycles have filter covers; others have exposed filters.
- Thoroughly clean the drain bolts, filter cavity and gasket surfaces.
- Lubricate and replace the drain bolts, and install new gaskets or crush washers where necessary.
- Install a new oil filter. Check your manual or ask your parts supplier for the proper filter.
- If necessary, install a new filter cover O-ring. The O-ring should be included with the new filter, so don’t accidentally throw it away! Rub a dab of new oil around the O-ring to ensure it seats properly with the engine and remains flexible enough to easily remove next time.
- Replace the oil filter cover, and tighten to factory specifications.
- Fill the sump with the recommended type and quantity of oil, and replace the oil cap.
- Run the engine for a few minutes, check for leaks, recheck the oil level, and make sure everything is tight.
Changing Your Motorcycle’s Tires
Changing motorcycle tires takes a bit more time, effort and patience than changing the oil, but it’s another fundamental that shouldn’t be overlooked. Becoming comfortable and confident changing your bike’s tires can be a lifesaver – literally – during long rides and off-road excursions. To increase the life of your tires and the safety of your motorcycle, check the tires pressure before every ride. Ensure your tires remain inflated at the proper pressure.
As with all motorcycle maintenance, check your manual for the correct tools and replacement parts you’ll need during service. Besides the tools necessary to remove the wheels from the motorcycle, you’ll most likely need a set of tire irons, rim protectors and a valve stem removal tool. Once you’ve gathered your tools, follow these 11 steps and you’ll be up and running again in no time:
- Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual for removing either or both wheels. Once the wheel is removed, place it on a suitable work surface. A 55-gallon drum or sturdy bucket works perfectly.
- Remove the valve stem and release all of the air. Remove the valve stem lock nut.
- Using a bead breaker or your bodyweight, break the bead on both sides of the tire, and insert the rim protectors.
- Use tire irons to pry the bead up and over the rim. Start at the valve stem and carefully work your way around the rim, moving the rim protectors as necessary. Once the bead is completely over the rim, remove the tube.
- Pull the other bead over the rim, freeing the tire from the wheel. You may need to use the tire irons again for tight or stubborn tires.
- Clean the wheel and make sure you don’t throw away the rim band – the thin piece of plastic or rubber that protects the tube from the spokes. Tubeless tires will not have rim bands.
- Replace the rim band, lubricate the beads with tire lubricant or soapy water, and insert one side of the new tire onto the rim.
- Inflate the new tube just enough for it to retain its shape, and slide it into the tire. Pull the valve stem through the hole in the wheel and make sure it’s lined up correctly. Fasten the valve stem nut finger tight.
- Force the other bead onto the rim using tire irons if necessary, making sure the balance mark on the tire lines up with the valve stem. Tighten the valve stem nut
- Inflate the tires to the correct pressure and allow them to sit for a few minutes. Recheck the pressure to make sure the tube isn’t leaking.
- If the tube retains air, put the wheels back on the motorcycle. Tighten everything to factory specifications, and you’re ready to roll.
For more on motorcycle safety, check out Allstate.com.