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Top tips for motorcycle maintenance
After the recent floods, some of us might be looking over our shoulders to see if there’s a bloke building a large wooden boat in his garden. But this weather reminds us that regular motorcycle maintenance is crucial.
But here’s a piece of advice. When you see the flood warning road traffic sign, don’t think that it’s there for wimps. If you see the sign, or spot a large stretch of water ahead of you, turn around – it simply isn’t worth it. Road bikes are not set up for motocross and the problem with deep surface water on a road, is that you don’t know what’s lurking beneath. Think of those potholes we dodge all day, you hit one of those and it’s Goodnight Vienna – the least of your worries will be a good soaking.
What’s worse, the police have made it quite clear that if you do bypass a flood sign and have an accident, then your motorcycle insurance company won’t be amused. You could end up with a broken bike and you having to foot the bill.
But flooding aside, the winter months are tough on our bikes. Water, sleet, snow, ice, with added road salt, all combine to make November through to April a nightmare.
So, the more motorcycle maintenance you can implement to keep your bike in shape, the better.
Now, ideally, every time we get off the bike after a hard day’s riding, we should clean it. Now, that ain’t going to be happen, not unless you are running for a sainthood.
But, there’s no excuse come the weekend, or whenever your day off falls. Bikes don’t run for ever without some TLC and there is quite a bit you can do yourself.
Get into a practiced routine of treating your bike to a weekly check-over and start with the basics first.
And that means the engine oil. This is a simple and quick procedure (always keep oil for top-ups handy), and if you fail to do it, you’ll look a chump when the thing seizes. Also, doing this every week will help you keep an eye on consumption. If you’re having to virtually refill the engine with oil every week, you have a problem.
Next is coolant. Again, simple to do, but if you let it drift, you’ll be over-heating and threatening another seizure.
Then move on to the tyres. Now, give these a lot of respect people. They are the two things which keep you attached to the road. If something goes wrong in the tyre department, you will feel it in the body department. Good tyres, means good grip and stability – don’t skip on these. Check they are inflated to the right pressure and look for any wear, or damage. Spot it early enough and you might be able to put it right.
Also check wheel alignment. A buckled wheel, or sprocket problem, needs to be spotted early on.
Next comes the brakes. Handy things brakes, especially when some Kamikaze motorist decides to join the road right in front of you. So ensure they are free, not binding and the cables are not frayed, or worn.
Give the shock absorbers a once over. Any signs of wear could mean an unstable platform for your riding and that creates an unnecessary risk. If they don’t perform as they should, change them.
Check out the chain. You need to watch for poor tension, or signs of wear. A flapping chain will make your bike less efficient and is dangerous.
That’s the big mechanicals done. Move onto the battery, which needs to be in tip-top condition in the winter. Check the horn and get a damp cloth to clean the front and rear lights. Being seen in the gloomy winter weather is crucial, so don’t leave a layer of muck on your lights. One wipe will do them the world of good.
Finally, give the frame a wipe and get rid of road salt, tar bits and any other stuff which may have found its way onto your bike.
So there we are, don’t neglect your bike, otherwise it will neglect you. A quick check as described above need only take less than 20 minutes , so don’t forget it, at least once a week.