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BIKER TIPS: Ten maintenance tips for your new motorcycle

BN- The United States Department of Transportation has reported a 75 percent increase in motorcycle registrations over the last decade. A...

BN- The United States Department of Transportation has reported a 75 percent increase in motorcycle registrations over the last decade. As the number of motorcycles increases, so does the number of new riders.

Although new riders can easily get caught up in the thrill of the ride, it’s important to remember that there is far less vehicle protecting the driver and passenger. An overlooked “little problem” may become a much bigger issue whose neglect could have potentially dangerous consequences.

The value of a trained motorcycle technician’s eye is vital in ensuring safety and performance. But it’s the rider’s day-to-day interest in and active attention to detail that plays a key role in spotting potential maintenance issues.
1. Tires: Critical to the safe performance of a motorcycle, tires are one of the easiest areas on which a rider can keep tabs. A few pounds of pressure can dramatically change the handling and tire wear of the motorcycle, and ultimately impact its road safety. The first step in checking tire pressure is consulting the owner’s manual to determine the appropriate pounds per square inch (PSI). Some manuals go so far as to list different pressures with and without a passenger. In addition to a pressure check, riders should visually inspect tires for tread wear, tread depth, signs of punctures, road damage, and cracking or bulging. When it does come time to replace the tires, it is important to follow the manufacturer recommended sizes.
2. Controls:  Many modern motorcycles still use cables for equipment like throttle and clutch. A misadjusted clutch cable can cause difficult shifting or clutch slippage, resulting in premature wear. Improperly adjusted throttle cables can cause poor throttle control, as well as unwanted acceleration while turning. If a driver notices any of these signs, it is best to take the motorcycle to a certified motorcycle technician who can diagnose and correct problems.
3. Fluids: Oil is vital to any engine and a good rule of thumb for riders is to get into the habit of checking levels prior to every ride. Regular oil and filter changes typically extend engine life.

Coolant is another critical component for liquid-cooled motorcycles. Riders should make a habit of checking the reservoir and visually inspecting for leaks around hoses, fittings and the fill cap. If coolant ever needs to be added to the system, consult a trusted motorcycle technician.
4. Fuel: A motorcycle can have a significantly shorter fuel range than a car; new riders are often caught off guard by this fact. Riders should know if their motorcycle has a reserve tank and the location of the switch valve in case of emergency if it is not fuel-injected.
5. Electrical: Battery maintenance is one of the first things with which a new rider should become familiar. Even “maintenance free” batteries still require regular care to ensure the motorcycle starts every time! Also, batteries discharge when the motorcycle is not in use. A trickle charger is a great investment to ensure a fully charged battery.
6. Brakes: Modern brake systems make it easier for riders to keep an eye on brake pad thickness and fluid levels. Most riders are not aware that nearly all manufacturers recommend replacing the fluid every two years and replacing the brake lines every four years. These essential tasks should be left to professionals. While checking on the brakes, the experts can also review rotor thickness. Unlike cars, motorcycle rotors cannot be resurfaced.
7. Steering: The steering head bearings on motorcycles require periodic adjustment and lubrication. Loose bearings can cause “speed wobbles” during deceleration and overly tightened or under-lubed bearings can cause difficult steering and uneven tire wear. Riders should check with a certified motorcycle technician to ensure bearings are in good working shape.
8. Final drive: Motorcycles use three types of final drive systems, the most common of which is a chain drive system. To keep everything in good working order, regular lubrication with a motorcycle-specific chain lube, occasional slack adjustment and sprocket inspection are needed. Belt drive systems require tension adjustments periodically, as well as checking for cracking or fraying of the belt. Shaft drive systems require periodic replacement of the final drive fluid and seal inspection. The drive system can be inspected in relatively short order by a certified motorcycle technician.
9. Air filter: A clean air filter can improve fuel economy and performance and add longevity to the engine. Riders should determine whether the motorcycle’s filter is paper, foam or gauze. Paper element filters are disposable and must be replaced at regular service intervals. Foam and gauze filters are serviceable but may require special cleaners and oils. Compressed air should never be used to dry or clean a filter. Information about servicing can be found on the filter manufacturer’s website.
10. Fasteners: Because all motorcycles vibrate, a regular fastener inspection can ensure a rider comes home with all of their motorcycle parts after every ride. A quality torque wrench can be a new rider’s best friend in tightening loose fasteners. Of course, consulting the owner’s manual is vital to ensuring fasteners are not over-tightened, which could cause more damage than just losing a loose bolt.

The excitement of owning a new motorcycle is tremendous. Most riders want to immediately start logging miles and see the world on their new touring motorcycle or take that new sport motorcycle to the track. But as the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In this case, the prevention is learning to keep an eye out for pitfalls that could compromise the rider’s safety and motorcycle performance. If nothing more, a rider should become familiar with their motorcycle owner’s manual, which is filled with maintenance schedules, adjustment specifications and even some simple how-to information. After all, a well-maintained motorcycle will keep riders cruising safely for miles to come.




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Outlaws Bikers News : BIKER TIPS: Ten maintenance tips for your new motorcycle
BIKER TIPS: Ten maintenance tips for your new motorcycle
Outlaws Bikers News
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