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The Road to Confidence: Motorcycle Maintenance Tasks Every Rider Should Know

How do you get started in motorcycle maintenance? It's important to remember that at a certain point, we're all beginners. Even if you consider yourself an expert when it comes to maintaining your motorcycle, there will always be a new project that might leave you questioning your skills.

Learning how to perform basic maintenance tasks on your motorcycle could save you money, help keep you safe, and empower you. 

Before starting any task, it's essential that you consult your owner's manual and familiarize yourself with various matters unique to your bike, such as the location of filters and which part you might need to remove to access them and the proper types and amounts of fluids as well as how often you should change them. It also never hurts to do some research on the task you’d like to tackle before starting. There are tons of informative blog articles, forums, and videos available on the internet that explain how to perform maintenance tasks for your specific motorcycle—don’t be afraid to consult these resources!

3 Small Motorcycle Maintenance Tasks For Beginners

One of the best things you can do as a responsible rider is to perform some basic checks on your bike before each ride. A pre-ride check will allow you to notice anything unusual about your bike before hitting the road. Strange noises and vibrations could be a warning sign of an impending problem. The more you ride your bike, the better you’ll know it, and you’ll start to get a sense of what’s normal and what’s not. Your pre-ride check is also an ideal time to check the condition of your tires and ensure your lights and brakes are working.

Here are a few DIY maintenance tasks that every rider will benefit from knowing:

1. Practice Chain Maintenance

It's essential to clean and lubricate your chain regularly with a designated chain cleaner and brush to get the dirt and grime. Using a proper chain brush will keep your hands a safe distance away from the chain and sprockets to avoid injury to your fingers. To lubricate the chain, rotate the back wheel as you apply specially formulated chain lube; this will ensure the chain gets fully coated. When performing chain maintenance, always double-check your manual for the exact recommendation on the chain tension.

There are many types of specially formulated chain lubricants. Street riders typically use road lubricant or chain wax, which tend to be less messy and have less fly off. Off-road and adventure riders tend to choose an off-road lubricant formula that provides extra protection against wear from extreme riding conditions. 

Kits for Chain Maintenance

Motul Chain Care Kit - Road

Motul Chain Care Kit - Off Road

2. Change Your Oil and Top-Up Any Fluids

To keep your engine running efficiently, you’ll need to change the oil regularly. Your brakes, clutch, and cooling system may also require liquids and oils to stay lubricated and run smoothly. Your manual will explain where these reservoirs are and how to top them up. 

There are three main types of oil, semi-synthetic, full synthetic and mineral-based—your owner's manual will recommend the best type for your machine as well as capacity and viscosity. Don’t be afraid to spend more on the fluids you run; these are the lifeline of your motorcycle and will extend the life of your bike and potentially save you money in the long run. 

Tip: Before performing an oil change, run the engine for about 5 minutes to warm the oil and lower the viscosity; this will help it drain faster.

3. Keep Your Air Filter Clean

If you have a dirty air filter, the performance of your bike will suffer. Your motorcycle's air filter works to keep debris out of your engine, so if your filter becomes caked with grit and grime, your engine won't function as efficiently as it should. The type of bike you have will determine how easily you'll be able to access the air filter—you may need to remove some additional parts to access it. 

The owner's manual will provide more detailed information regarding service intervals. It's important to note that your air filter will require more frequent cleaning if you ride off-road. The foam filters found on many off-road vehicles are reusable, and you can clean and re-oil them. Most street bikes come with paper air filter elements, which need replacing when dirtied. Replacing your street bike's air filter is a great time to upgrade to a premium filter such as K&N, which are washable and reusable and provide added airflow for increased performance. 

Here are some of our most popular air filter cleaners and cleaning kits: the WR F3 Off-Road Fast Foam Filter Cleaner, the K&N Air Filter Oil and Clearning N/A, and the Maxima Air Filter Care Combo Kit.

Your One-Stop Shop for Motorcycle Maintenance

It's always a good idea to go over anything you disturbed while working to ensure everything is in good order. If you notice any loose bolts, be sure to tighten them, check your oil and coolant levels, and make sure your tire pressure is good before hitting the road.

Before diving into your next maintenance job, drop by GP Bikes for everything you need, from oils to tires. Or, if you’re looking for a performance upgrade—we've got you covered. 

Keep in mind that even with regular checks, you should take your bike in for a service annually. Major service intervals can be found in your owner’s manual and we recommend following that schedule to get maximum performance and longevity out of your bike.

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