How to care for your motorcycle properly

When looking after your motorbike, frequency is the key and prevents little problems developing into big ones.

washing scooter outdoors

Weekly checks of your motorcycle seem like a pain but bearing in mind the money they can save in the long run, they’re more than worth doing. It doesn’t take long to do a check either, so there’s really no excuse not to.

Get into a routine

Get into the habit of checking your bike every week and learn what checks you should do, that way it becomes almost automatic and even less of an issue.

What should I check?

1. Oil levels

Oil levels can be checked simply using a dipstick, plug or level window.

See our guide to oil checks and filter replacing.

2. Tyres

Tyres are not just important for handling but for fuel consumption and your wallet too.

Check your tyres for unusual wear and tear as this usually indicates that they’re either over or under inflated – this can affect handling as well as fuel consumption. You should also check your tyre pressure, even if there is no unusual wear and tear, and tread depth.

3. Coolant

Checking your engine’s coolant is simple but it can save you a lot of hassle.

Check to see what level your coolant is at based on the high and low marks on the outside of the tank and fill accordingly.

4. Lights

headlights close up in Nevada on Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic

Lights are lifesavers in dark conditions so make sure they work. It’s a simple enough check to do before you get out on the road.

The same applies to your signals. If they don’t work then you’re in trouble as nobody will know your intentions on the road. Again, check them before you get on the road.

5. Suspension

Check your suspension for unusual wear and tear. Apply your front brake and push down on your handlebars.

If your suspension is working it should give a little as you push down. This should be a smooth movement and there should be no clunky sounds or feeling to it.

6. Steering

Put your bike on its centre stand and turn the handlebar from left to right, fully locking the steering in each direction.

The handlebars should turn smoothly and again there should be no strange sounds.

7. Brakes

Brake pads wear down quite quickly, depending on how aggressively you ride. If your brake pads are worn down and you ride, you can ruin your rotors.

You can inspect your brake pads visually; they should be at least 3mm in width. If they are less, you should change them because it’s expensive to correct if it goes too far and damages your discs.

lubricant applied to motorbike chain8. Chain

Without your chain, you can’t ride, so it’s important you check it.

Make sure your chain can move up and down slightly when nobody is sat on your bike. If it’s too tight it’s worth adjusting your chain as they tighten up when weight is on the bike. Your bike should also be lubricated. If it looks too dry, it probably is, so you should lubricate it, making sure to apply the lube to the inside of the chain.

9. Horn

Your horn can save your life but it’s a part of your bike that you might not use for long periods of time.

You can fail an MOT if your horn doesn’t work as well so it’s in your interest to check it does. Try it out but only when moving on a non-residential road between 07:00 and 23:30. Apply common sense when doing so.

10. Wash

Wash your motorbike as soon as you spot any muck, grease or tar on it. This will save you time in the long run and could prevent serious damage to your paintwork, particularly if tar is left to set on your bike.

These checks should ensure that your bike stays in tip top condition, as well as keep you safe on the road and save you money in the long run. You shouldn’t need any more reasons.

Next page: Motorbike MOT - a guide