Owning a bike is personal. The vulnerability you share with your motorcycle on the open road creates an undeniable bond. Regular maintenance will keep you and your bike safe, and getting your hands dirty only increases the satisfaction you feel as you hit the pavement on two wheels. You have to know your way around a toolbox a little to get some hands-on experience fixing your hog up. If you’re a newcomer who doesn’t know an ATV tire from a throttle, you may want to do a little more research on the ol’ Harley before hopping on. If you are handy in the garage, try these moderately difficult maintenance projects to keep your bike in top form.
Bleed the Brakes
Clean brake fluid keeps brakes running smoothly an important characteristic for motorcycle drivers. Dirty brake fluid can corrode engine cylinders and compromise brake performance. Avoid costlier repairs by replacing the brake fluid, also known as “bleeding the brakes,” annually.
What You’ll Need:
- Bottle for old fluid
- New brake fluid
- Hand tools
Start with the easier rear brake. Attached the catch bottle the brake nipple and pump the hand brakes to release the liquid. Use a screwdriver to under the top of the master cylinder reservoir and check the level as you bleed out the old fluid. Once the reservoir is empty, fill it with new fluid.
Bleeding the front brake requires a similar process, but cluttered hardware makes it more difficult. In order to access the front brake reservoir, you’ll probably need to loosen the throttle housing. Once you gain access, repeat the process of placing the catch bottle over the brake nipple and pumping the brakes, then refill the reservoir.
Before you hit the road, hold the brakes down to make sure they hold, and check below your bike for any leaks. Faulty brakes could have you looking for expensive motorcycle parts if they give out. Maintain your brakes to avoid more costly issues.
Clean the Chain
If a motorcycle engine is a heart, a chain or a belt is the lung that keeps it moving. If your machine is chain-driven, keep it clean, and your bike will repay you with years of service.
What you’ll need:
Dunk a brush in de-greaser and wipe down the entire chain, making sure not to remove it from the sprocket. Once you clean the chain, apply lubricant on the inside of the chain to promote smooth performance. Start your motorcycle and check to make sure the chain is properly attached.
Change the Oil
Do-it-yourself oil change on a motorcycle is simpler than on a car or truck. Follow the maintenance schedule for oil changes, which is usually every 4,000 miles or six months.
What you’ll need:
- Oil that’s recommended for your machine (check the manual or manufacturer’s website)
- Oil filter
- Monkey wrench and oil filter wrench
- Drip pan