Yes, modern motorcycles don’t burn oil like bikes did in the Bad Old Days, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check your bike’s oil level on a weekly basis. If you ride infrequently, consider checking before every ride. With regular checks, you are more likely to notice symptoms of little problems before they get bigger. For the best way to check your particular bike’s oil level, consult your owner’s manual. For a list of things you can learn from checking your engine’s oil, follow the link below.

How Do You Check A Motorcycle’s Oil Level?

  • azicat

    Steering head bearings!!!!!!!

    This one goes beyond “overlooked” to almost “neverlooked” status.

    • Evans Brasfield

      Yeah, I considered that, but I decided that it was beyond what most people would do to their own bikes.

      • azicat

        Yes it’s a shame, as it has such a big influence on a bike’s handling. If only centrestands were a regular feature, like they were in the olden days….

      • Jon Jones

        And the manufacturers have made it a nightmare to perform this once-easy task. They love to bury the spanner nut with the upper clamp.

    • W Donald

      Add to that wheel bearings as well as swingarm and swingarm linkage bearings . These are all items that are only replaced when they fail .
      In the last week I have replaced steering head bearings on 3 motorcycles in my workshop , one client knew what the problem was , the other two complained of funny handling .

      • Lee

        For a few extra bucks manufacturers like Harley could put a grease nipple on the head bearing and swing arm but they don’t. A one minute maintenance item turns into a major chore. Job security or abuse of their customers? You decide.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Spoils the look of the bike.

        • W Donald

          From my experience applying grease through a grease nipple doesn’t seem to remove all the old grease , in my opinion there is nothing like a stripdown , clean and regrease . The other thing to bear in mind is that modern greases when used in their correct applications are actually quite long lasting .
          On my dirt bikes I strip and regrease these bearings and replace shock oil at least every 6 months , more often if I do a lot of wet rides .

          • Lee

            I agree, new greases last a long time. They also don’t break down and dry out so adding grease through a nipple works fine and the more you pump the more of the old is forced out. You’re correct that there’s nothing like a stripdown but weigh that against disassembling a Harley steering head and swingarm and I’ll take my chances any day.

          • W Donald

            I don’t have a Harley though , or any cruiser for that matter .
            My preferences at the moment are standards , adventure and pure dirt bikes , so generally pretty easy .

      • Dixon Cider

        I have a Honda CBR600RR. Would it be a good idea to take the wheel bearings out, take off the sealing cover, run through a hydrosonic cleaner with kerosene, and regrease, or just replace them?

        • W Donald

          In my mind wheel bearings are safety items and when they fail the results can be catastrophic .
          Considering the low price of bearings I would just replace them , there are companies like All Balls and Pivot Works that do wheel bearing kits including the bearings and seals , otherwise good quality bearings and seals are available from bearing companies .
          For other bearings like steering head , swingarm or linkage bearings your plan sounds perfect .

  • Prakasit

    Speaking of hydraulic fluid. What do you guys use? Stuff off the shelf from your local auto part store, or the high end racing stuff that is $30 per 1/2 a liter bottle.

    • Evans Brasfield

      I’ve used hydraulic fluids from all of the major name brands, but in recent years, I’ve been leaning towards Motul’s DOT 5.1 fluid.

      • Prakasit

        I am going to try using Motul. Useful article BTW, I realize that I have been woefully behind on one maintenance item: cable lube. Last time I did it was never.

      • W Donald

        I can also highly recommend the the Motul range , I personally use their products on my personal vehicles .

    • Dixon Cider

      I used Prestone for a full flush, but would be happier if I went with more performance fluid.

  • Starmag

    11. Wives

    • Swampy1970

      Aren’t you sure that when you’re out riding the wife isn’t getting her fluids checked by someone else?

      J/k.

  • Patriot159

    OK you got me, haven’t changed the coolant on my DR650 in what seems like forever…oh wait…

  • 11. exhaust/muffler fiberglass packing change

  • JMDGT

    In theory the manufacturers maintenance schedules cover all possible needed items. In theory. At this point in my life I limit my maintenance participation to as little as possible. I have been known to change the oil if needed. I.E. if a bike does not need a full yearly service due to limited run time or I am out on the road and I can’t find anyone that knows what they’re doing to change it. I will look for any visual cues that might indicate that something needs tending. I have swapped out a battery or two. Removed wheels for new tires lubed a chain or three more than I wanted to or will even admit to. One of the reasons I like shaft drive. Bottom line is I hate doing any maintenance. I will if I have to but won’t if I don’t.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      You never know until you break down on the highway far from home.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    My 2007 Harley Softail Custom has been dealer maintained (initially every 2500 miles, then every 5000 miles) since I bought it so I have never had any problem with it in 156,000 miles. The 2015 KTM 1190 Adventure R has a service interval of 9300 miles but I have been taking it to the dealer every 6200 miles. The 2007 Suzuki Bandit 1250S has had the oil changed every 4000 miles and the previous owner kept it well maintained since he had a garage and all the tools. I have neither so it will be interesting.

  • Terry Smith

    Thanks for the useful lifehack photo of the brake fluid container with two holes punched through the foil seal! That would make for more control/less chance of spillage.

    • Dixon Cider

      Too true. Never thought of that.

  • Dixon Cider

    Nice list of things to do. Much appreciated.

  • Sahil Srivastava

    Meh, most of the simple stuff, i do myself, anything beyond that, i have a friend who is a mechanic. Also i ride with a little lower tire pressure, intentionally for a little more traction

  • iqtom s

    C’mon, don’t advertise an article on basic maintenance as one on overlooked maintenance. The fact that some boobs don’t change their oil or check their tire pressure hardly makes these overlooked items for the vast majority of riders. You want overlooked maintenance? How about Yamaha’s recommendation that you change the internal components of your master cylinders and calipers every two years? Can’t say I’ve ever done that. And I’m a guy who really appreciates brakes.