DIY Maintenance for Your Classic Motorbike
DIY motorbike maintenance is possible but always with due care and great advice from experts.
If you own a motorbike, or are planning to buy one, there are a few things that you need to know. These tips will not only lengthen the life of your motorbikes but will also help keep you and the people around you safe. Just like cars, bikes require a lot of maintenance.
Here are 6 DIYs for maintaining your old motorbikes in tip top condition.
1. Check your tyres.
Check the pressure of your motorbike’s tyres. Many of us forget to check the tyres, which is one of the most crucial elements in maintaining a motorcycle.
Under-inflation or lack of pressure in the tyres can affect handling and braking. This is because the tyre wall will flex and effect the grip on the road surface. Your tyres won’t respond as quickly as they would if they were properly inflated. Under-inflated tyres lose stability – affecting the performance of your motorbike and ultimately endangering you as a rider.
On the other hand, too much pressure, or over-inflation, can decrease the size of the contact area. This reduces the motorbike’s traction and affects grip. This means more damage and wear to your tyres resulting in you spending more money on repairs. Over-inflation gives your bike a harsh and noisy ride.
Inflation pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (psi) or BAR. Check the maximum recommended psi for your tyres printed on them or consult the manual for the correct pressure. Note that your tyres may be different from other types of tyres, which have different maximum recommended psi’s. Checking the pressure should be done weekly, depending on the amount of ride time.
2. Check the chain tension.
The chain must be at the correct tension, as an improper chain tension can result in premature sprocket and gearbox wear. It can also cause rough gear-shifts and an erratic transmission. This can further cause the reduction of rear suspension travel and will limit the life of the drive chain.
Adjust your motorbike’s chain according to the workshop manual to the correct chain tension. Set the tension with someone or something on the bike to simulate a real setting. Observe the tightening of the chain as you apply load.
While you’re at it, you can do some chain lubrication to prolong your motorbike’s life.
3. Check your batteries.
Problems with batteries usually happen because they run flat. If this happens on the road, it can be a major hassle. Prevent this from happening by doing routine checks of your motorbike’s battery. Remove the battery from the holder to have a closer look.
Remember that batteries contain strong acid which will harm your skin upon contact. So always be careful. You can check the level of acid in the battery by placing it on a flat and level surface. If the level is quite low, you can add de-ionised water before charging the battery with a motorbike charger. Do not overfill the battery. If over-filled, acid will drain out the overflow pipe as you are riding. However, some batteries are sealed. You may not be able to top them up. Do not use force to open them. They have gel inside and cannot be serviced – best to replace them if they will not hold a charge.
Do not forget to grease your battery terminals before placing them back in the motorbike. This will help avoid corrosion. Also, remember not to touch both terminals at the same time. You will get an electric shock.
4. Check your oil and filters.
Generally, your engine oil should be changed every 5,000 kilometres.
Remove the oil filler cap from your motorbike. You can do this while the engine is still warm. Place a tray under the bike and remove the sump plug. Drain the oil and remove the filter with a spanner. Replace the plug and tighten to correct torque setting. Smear some clean oil on the rubber filter gasket before tightening. Refill the engine with new oil. Start the bike and check for leaks. Give it around 5 minutes for the oil to drain back into the sump. Recheck the level and add oil if necessary. Remove any excess oil using an oil syringe. Consult your workshop manual for a more detailed procedure.
5. Oil and grease your motorbike.
You need to oil and grease your bike for a smoother and more responsive ride. Aside from corrosion prevention, oiling and greasing will leave your motorbike feeling fresh, give you better control, and increase cable life – making riding more pleasurable.
Oil your cables and adjust them to take out any slack. This is to avoid the impairment of your motorbike’s throttle or clutch. Your cables will last longer if they are regularly lubricated.
Change your front fork oil as per the maker’s specification. This is normally done about every 10,000 kms or every two years.
Grease and lubricate the drive chain, wheel spindles, hinges, fasteners, levers and pivot points, keyholes and locks. Gearchange assemblies and brake lever pins will give their full potential when they are well greased. Do not spray lubricant near disc brakes.
6. Clean your motorbike!
Of course, you will need to clean your motorbike regularly. Aside from the aesthetic benefit of doing this, you will be able to spot anything that may cause problems in the future.
Wash your bike with a proper automotive detergent. Some may opt to clean with a bike cleaning solution, which is perfectly fine. To avoid scratches, use a smooth cloth or sponge. Do not use dish washing soap or other household detergents. They are highly alkaline and may cut the grease and obliterate the wax coating on your bike.
Do not scrape, scrub or rub the dead bugs on the front part of your bike. Improper scrubbing will result in unwanted abrasions. Soak the bug bits first to soften them up before wiping them off.
Apply a protective wax after you wash. This is to create a barrier against harmful contaminants, and UV rays as well. Try to use a blower to dry your motorbike completely. Drying with a cloth takes a long time and may cause fine abrasions.
Know more on how to maintain your motorbike, its accessories, and bike spares at Classic Bike Spares
Classic Bike Spares specialises in spare parts for classic Triumph, Norton and BSA motorcycles. We carry over 4,400 parts, and we are continually increasing our range. If it’s not on the shelf, we will try to get it for you! We also stock genuine reproduction parts.