As motorcycle enthusiasts, the thrill of hitting the road is hard to resist. However, amidst the excitement, it’s crucial to remember that safety should always be a top priority.
Regular maintenance and a responsible approach to motorcycle ownership play a significant role in keeping you safe while riding. Neglecting maintenance can lead to avoidable crashes and mechanical failures, which can be dangerous for both the rider and other road users.
Luckily, keeping your bike in tip-top shape isn’t hard, and you can be mindful about your maintenance routine without it impacting your ability to get on the road whenever you want. Keep these simple maintenance points in mind for a safe bike, safe ride and to ensure your bike is ready whenever you want to hit the highway.
The first step in an effective maintenance routine is to conduct regular inspections of your motorcycle. Before each ride, take a few minutes to check the essential components, including tyres, brakes, lights, and fluid levels. Look for any signs of wear and tear or damage and address them promptly. Regular inspections allow you to identify potential issues before they escalate, ensuring a safer and smoother ride.
Safety begins at home, you’re going to be the most familiar with your bike and you’ll be the person that notices any issues. But you should also get to a professional at least once a year, once a season if you ride a lot, to follow your manufacturing maintenance schedule.
Regular inspections can save you money down the track, will make sure your bike is ready to go when you are, and may also save your life. Finding an issue in your garage might be frustrating, but it’s better than something going wrong while you’re on the road.
Fluid Levels and Changes
You might not be a mechanic, but it’s good to learn some simple things you can do to keep your bike running. Monitoring proper fluid levels is an easy place to start, and it’s critical for not only safety, but also performance and longevity of your bike.
You should become familiar with checking your engine oil, brake fluid and coolant levels as a base. The guidelines for these will all be available from the manufacturer if you buy a new bike, but a mechanic can also help you understand what’s right for your bike if you buy something secondhand or want to double check.
If you’re not riding regularly, it’s good to at least keep a schedule of when you check the bike over, because a problem caught early will stop long-term damage. You might not be out on your bike everyday, but damage can still happen, and if you’re rarely riding the chances of you finding something nasty when you do go to hop on the bike are increased.
Your tyres are the only point of contact with the road, making them a crucial safety component. Think of them as the foundation of your bike; if something is wrong with your tyres it’s a serious problem if you go for a ride.
Check the tyre pressure regularly and ensure they are inflated to the recommended levels. A variety of things can impact the pressure in your tyres and it will drop over time. Additionally, inspect the tires for signs of wear, punctures, or cracks, and replace them if necessary.
Worn-out tyres can cause serious problems in traction and handling when you’re riding, significantly increasing the risk of accidents. A quick look over before you head out on a ride is the easiest way to catch issues before they become serious problems. You may not immediately notice a problem when you first hop on the bike, but safe riders decrease the risk by checking them each time they ride.
The brake system is perhaps the most critical safety feature on any motorcycle. Regularly inspect the brake pads, rotors, and brake lines for signs of wear and ensure they are functioning correctly.
If you’re not familiar with what your brake system should look like, ask your mechanic or another friend who is an experienced rider. If you notice any reduced braking performance, any delays, any strange noises, or something just doesn’t feel right, get it checked.
It might be annoying to pop in to your mechanic or to have to call off a ride, but your brakes are one of the most crucial parts of your bike when it comes to safety. Delaying maintenance isn’t worth it, and you’ll have a better ride when you feel safe and confident in your bike and its ability.
We can become really complacent on our electrical system – it seems like a missing light isn’t that big a deal. But for a motorcycle, your lights play a critical part in making sure other drivers on the road know where you are, what you’re doing, and can plan around you.
If you’re mechanically minded, regularly checking your battery, spark plugs, and wiring for any signs of corrosion or damage is a good way to stay on top of any issues with your electrical system. But you can also stay on top of this by simply checking your headlights, taillights, indicators and other lights are all working before you take off.
This is obviously particularly important at night, but conditions can change while you’re riding. During rain, or fog, in darkness or smoke, or even just in busy traffic conditions, your lights might be the difference between a car seeing you early, or a car seeing you after it’s too late for them to react.
Chain and Drivetrain
Your chain is part of the system that drives your bike and keeps it moving. It goes without saying that if something happens here, you’re in trouble if you’re on the road. Checking your chain is an easy thing to do and will catch any major issues before you head out. Check for obvious wear in the links, excessive sag just before the sprocket, and any clear signs of wear and tear.
If you’re doing regular maintenance on your bike yourself, keeping these things in top working order should be easy, and this is a good argument for learning to do the basics yourself. Depending on where you bought your motorcycle, a bike shop should be able to help you with the basics. A good relationship with your mechanic will also help, and you can get them to show you the key things to watch out for. You can also join a club or group locally to meet up with motorcyclists who may be more experienced than you and can help you get to grips with the basics.
Safety starts before you even get on the bike! Your gear is the last line of defence between you and an injury, so making sure it’s in good shape is important. If you’ve had a crash recently, you will likely need new gear, as any issues with your helmet or other equipment will reduce how effective they are. Likewise, general wear and tear will cause weak points, so your gear should be replaced if there are any issues with it.
It’s not as fun as the actual riding, but motorcycle maintenance is one of the responsibilities of owning a bike and it’s about more than just keeping yourself safe. It also protects others on the road and anyone else on your bike. Plus, basic maintenance will help keep your bike in good shape and limit any expensive problems that may arise.
By adopting a comprehensive maintenance checklist and performing regular inspections, both new and experienced riders can develop an effective maintenance routine to keep their motorcycles in proper working order. Remember, safety begins at home, and a well-maintained bike is a safe bike!