MAINTENANCE Special Feature

Posted On 26 Apr 2024
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This entry is part 4 of 29 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#28



As we’re sure you know, keeping a relationship intact cuts both ways. Here is what you should be doing to keep up your end of the love affair with your bike…

Yes, okay, everyone knows that no one follows the guidelines printed so prominently in motorcycle handbooks, listing all the things you should be doing before riding your bike. Anyone who claims they do, is either fibbing or suffering from immense memory lapses. Oh, all right, maybe there are some people who do – point them out to us if you know of one, and we’ll give them a medal.

So instead of allowing you to just ignore your maintenance duties entirely, we have compiled a list that we think is more reasonable, split into weekly, monthly and annual sections. And you really should follow this one!


You must check your tyres pressures each week, unless you just ride on the odd occasion, in which case it should be before each ride. Tyre pressures are a critically important safety item in your riding. A couple of pounds down could already mean less grip and poor handling. To give you an extreme case, take my rear Pirelli slick. I was given the hot tip for the soft front tyre I ran at the Barry Sheene: run it 35psi off the warmer, I was told, and if it starts to slide around, run it at 34psi for extra grip. No lower and no higher off the tyre warmers, otherwise grip would go away. So make it a point to check tyre pressures every week to keep things as safe as possible.


Another very important part of the motorcycle that needs to maintained every week – at least given a squirt of chain lube (you listening, Bear?), is the chain. If you don’t have a chain, check the belt every week for any abnormalities. Those with shaft drive can skip this, but the majority of motorcycles still have a chain drive which requires inspection every week, as well as some chain lube to keep the bike smooth. This will also make things cheaper in the long run by keeping the chain and sprockets in good condition. Chain lube is cheap and there are many brands on the market, but we have used Motul, Yamalube and iPone all with great success, with minimal fl ing and great smoothness.


Yes, you should check your brakes every week! Feel the brake pressure – is it strong? Check the fl uids – are they within the boundaries indicated? And grab that torch and shine it into the caliper to see how much meat is left on the pads. Safety is the key: try stopping your bike without brakes. You’ll be rinsing your undies for quite a while.


Really? Yes. If you ride daily, make time each week to give your bike a wash. Not only will your bike love you for it, it also gives you time to possibly see something wrong with the bike you might not have noticed otherwise. I use iPone Absolut Wash, which works well and is easy to use. After wiping the bike down I then give it a good spray with Motul Shine N Go or Yamalube Silicone Protectant & Lubrication Spray (depending on what I have at the time), wiping down any areas where I don’t want the spray to be, and obviously being careful not to spray the tyres.

That’s it; I’m assuming that you will notice at the time if the bike blows a blinker globe or suchlike. It’s not a lot to do, and potentially lifesaving.


Not that much different to the weekly checks, really. However, if you’ve managed to skip anything during your weekly checks, now is the time to do them.


Check your brake pads for wear. Yes, you should have done it in the weekly check, but if you don’t ride your bike all the time, once every month is fine. If you need to change the pads, EBC/ SBS pads available through your local bike shop are a good choice.


Check the oil level and top up if need be. Also check the coolant level – top up if need be and re-check the brake fluid that you should be checking weekly. As for engine oil, coolant and brake fluid, Motul and iPone again have an excellent range. For brake fluid I’ve used Motul and Penrite with good results.


Check the places where bolts may have come loose; after a few months you will learn where you should be checking and which bolts you can safely ignore until the annual checkup. We know of someone who omitted this and lost the sump plug from her R 65, way out west near Coonabarabran. It was not pretty.


Again, if you only occasionally ride your bike, or if it gets dirty on a ride, make time and give it a wash – as mentioned in the weekly checks. You might also like to give the paintwork a light polish, depending on how it is. I use Meguiars or Autoglym polish which both work a treat.



Servicing is the major point here. If you’re not confident enough to service your own bike, take it to a mechanic.

Otherwise, buy some oil, an oil filter and an air filter. Clean the chain, adjust and re-lube it. Check the bolts for looseness. Check the coolant and replace with fresh fluid if need be; the same goes for the brake fluid. There are also other items of your bike you should be checking for any signs of wear or need for service.


The clutch cable is a very important piece of the motorcycle – if you have an hydraulic clutch, you need to be thinking about changing the fluid or at least bleeding the system to keep it in tip top shape. Those with a cable need to lube the cable every 12 months and check the adjustment. You may need a minor adjustment at the lever every month or so, depending on usage, but a proper lube and adjustment every 12 months is a must.


Check the wheel bearings for any wear and replace if necessary. If you’re not confident in changing your wheel bearings, get a mechanic to do it.


Change the fuel fi lter, if you have one, and keep the cleanest fuel possibly fl owing through your machine.


Check the thickness of your brake discs, and if low, replace them. Also, if you have any warping of the discs, replace them. And again, check the brake pads for wear and replace if necessary.

And there you have it: a genuine, if minimal, list of maintenance tasks. Just do them, okay?

About the Author
Australian Motorcyclist Magazine is Australia's leading motorcycle travel magazine.
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