How many times has something like a split hose, broken chain, or other avoidable problem, come along when you least expect it? Miles away from home. During the dark hours. In the rain.. (you get the picture).
Now, cleaning your motorcycle wont only keep these avoidable issues at bay, it will also keep your bike looking good.
There are many on-line tutorials on cleaning motorcycles, so I wont go too much into it, but a quick Google search will bring you step-by-step guides. In a nutshell, be sure to use bike specific cleaner, rubber-safe cleaner for rubber parts, plastic-safe cleaner for plastic and so on. Most commercial bike cleaning solutions nowadays are safe to use all over the bike and are formulated as such. Wax on the paintwork will also keep it looking clean for longer and protects the paintwork.
Whilst you’re cleaning, it’s the perfect time for the real topic I want to write about:-
Preventative maintenance is maintenance carried out to prevent problems. A good example is your motorcycle chain. As the chain wears, it stretches and must be kept at a correct tension setting. To loose and it may come off, too tight and it may snap as you go over speed humps or potholes. The correct tension also helps increase its life. Now, ensuring it is always set at the correct tension will prevent it being too loose or too tight. Similarly, frequently checking brake pads is also a good idea, so as you don’t realise you got no brake pad life left all of a sudden. The same goes for clutch/throttle or any control cables. Checking them often could avoid that moment when you’re miles away from home, about to downshift, and realise the you press the lever and feel no resistance, and you somehow fluke it to a stop only to figure that your clutch cable has snapped.
Whilst you are washing your bike, it is a perfect time to carry out essential checks and preventative maintenance. Below you will find a list of things that are frequently checked, and I recommend for you to check. I may have missed something, so feel free to comment or get in touch for additions or amendments.
- All lights, signals and horn working (including electrical switchgear – brake light switches, clutch switches and so on)
- Tyres: wear, condition and pressure
- Wheels: condition
- Grips, handlebar, pegs all stable and not loose
- Mirrors, fairing and all bodywork secure
- Brake pads and discs
- Chain and sprockets – clean and lube chain, adjust if necessary
- Bearings – May need a friend help with these:
- Wheel bearings, check wheels for sideways movement by tugging along the top and bottom from either side of the bike, with the wheel off the floor
- Steering, push and pull bottom of forks (with front wheel off the floor using a stand that doesn’t hold it from the forks or headstock). Also, ensure that the steering movement is smooth with no knocks or notches.
- Swingarm, it helps to have the rear wheel off the floor but isn’t necessary. Check for unusual side-to-side movement of the swingarm. The only way the swingarm should move is up and down (to compensate for speed humps and potholes, of course!)
- Front forks, compress them a few times, then check to make sure that they aren’t leaking any oil and compress the front forks to see if the suspension works. Also ensure that it is a smooth movement with no nasty sounds.
- Rear shock(s), press down on the back of the motorcycle to ensure that the rear suspensions works and the bike come up again. Also ensure that it is a smooth movement with no nasty sounds.
- Rubber hoses/fluid pipes/brake hoses can perish over time if they are rubber. Certain metals can rust though too, so be sure to check over all of them. Even a tiny hairline crack can and will expand, so be sure to get it looked at quickly.
Preventative maintenance is that little extra that bikers should put in, to avoid big unexpected bills and odd breakdowns. Regular checks and greasing the right bits will keep your bike looking clean, feeling clean, and riding well. Ride a well maintained bike, your life depends on it.