Waking your bike from its long winter’s nap is one of those good news/bad news moments. The good news is that, if you prepared your bike for the winter, getting back out on the road is pretty darn simple. The bad news is that, if you didn’t, you could be in for a bit of work (or more) before your motorcycle is ready to ride. While it may seem counter-intuitive, leaving your bike idle without preparing it is actually quite stressful on it. The volatile components in gasoline will separate and evaporate. The chemicals used to store electricity in the battery self-discharge. The air in the half-empty gas tank forms a microclimate in which any moisture has a chance to work its oxidizing magic on the exposed metal in the air pocket. Any corrosive materials left on a dirty bike get to gnaw away at it unchecked. Ozone will age the rubber parts. All of these are bad things.
It’s fair to say most, if not all, of us prefer riding over wrenching, but as much as our beloved motorcycles provide us with happy memories and roadside therapy, these machines also need a little loving. Basic maintenance isn’t difficult, but it does require periodic attention. Adhere to the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance intervals and your machine will provide you with miles upon miles of trouble free riding. The best part is that most of the things we suggest below don’t require special tools! Curious what you should be on top of when it comes to motorcycle maintenance? Then keep on reading.
Changing your motorcycle’s oil is one of the most important – if not the most important – maintenance tasks you can perform for its engine. All those expensive moving parts within your engine won’t last very long without a coating of quality lubricant preventing metal-on-metal violence. If you’re new to wrenching, an oil change is the perfect confidence builder. It’s almost impossible to screw up and requires very few tools: sockets or allen sockets to remove bodywork, a wrench to remove the drain plug (ultimately, you’ll really want to use a socket and a torque wrench to get it tightened to factory specs on reassembly), an oil catch pan, and rubber gloves. Don’t worry about voiding a new bike’s warranty. Just save your receipts and keep a record of the date and mileage of each change.