Basic Motorcycle Maintenance

Biker riding a motorcycleBasic motorcycle maintenance is essential if you want to avoid getting stranded and having to call out roadside rescue. You could also cut down on repair costs if you take some time out to get to know your way round your bike.

Regular Checks

Lights - Checking your lights and indicators on a regular basis is absolutely essential, faulty lights could put you at serious risk of taking a spill and injuring yourself.

Tyres - Check the pressure of your tyres from cold (when the bike has not been ridden for three hours or travelled less than a mile) at least once a week. Invest in your own gauge and ensure they are inflated to the manufacturer's standards. If you are losing between 5 and 10% a week then check for leaks in the valve by adding moisture to look for any bubbles.

Brakes - Make sure your brake pads have plenty of wear left on them and there is no metal exposed; if they need changing then it's best to get this done as soon as possible. Keep an eye on the level of brake fluid remaining and change it every year to make sure that the effectiveness does not decrease which can happen when moisture is absorbed over time.

Fluids - Other fluids such as the coolant and oil should be maintained to increase the performance, smoothness and longevity of your motorcycle. Your motorcycle manufacturer's manual will advise you which type of oil you should use depending on the time of year and variations in temperatures.

When you are checking your motorcycle oil, have the bike level and the engine warmed to ensure an accurate reading. You can check the level of oil by either using a dipstick or looking through the glass panel on the side of your engine. The ideal level of oil should be close to the maximum, but not above it and should be changed every six months.

Chain - Ensure your chain has the correct amount of slack (about one inch of play) at the tightest spot; too much tension can cause havoc with your wheels and gearbox bearings. Add lube to your chain when you return from a ride and whilst it is still warm so that the chain can absorb it as it cools down. Clean your chain with a cloth and kerosene whenever you change your oil.

Spark Plugs - It is important to renew your spark plugs if they are dirty or badly corroded to avoid wearing them out completely. Checking this yourself is another simple job you can carry out whilst giving your bike a once-over. Start by leaving your engine to cool for at least two hours and dusting off the old spark plug to avoid any dirt or grit falling into the engine when you remove it. Use a spark plug socket and ratchet to unscrew the spark plug and inspect it. If it is orange in colour then your engine is running well and your spark plug is being used at the optimum temperature. If the spark club is white in colour then your engine is over-heating. A black spark plug however can be caused for a number of reasons, the most common being that the air/fuel mixture is too rich. If you need to change your spark plugs then new ones should be entered by hand, making sure you don't over-tighten the plugs.


If you need an MOT then make sure it's up to date. Getting an MOT for your motorbike is much cheaper than it would be for a car and assuming you don't need too much work doing, your wallet should escape relatively unscathed.

Vehicle Inspection Test

Of course if you have particular concerns about your ride or plan to buy a new bike, you can always have an expert give it the once over with a vehicle inspection test. Most motoring organisations and mechanics offer different levels of service that can give you peace of mind and flag up any potential problems.