Ever planned an offroad trip, only to realize at the last minute your machine isn’t ready to go? This can sure put a damper on the weekend. It’s nice to just pack up, go for a ride with confidence the machine will perform as intended. Performing regular machine maintenance will keep it running longer, and give peace of mind when riding. Maintenance will also make planning fun and easy, so exciting memories can be made. Not to mention saves money and makes the machine safer to ride. Any machine with moving parts should be taken care of and well maintained. Hopefully these few tips will help get your machine ready for your next adventure!
- Wash bike
- Change oil
- Change oil filter
- Check oil – engine and transmission
- Clean air filter
- Tire wear
- Tire pressure
- Spark plug
- Lube chain
- Lube cables
- Grease bearings
- Check brake pads
Here is a walk through of each step suggested for maintenance. Taking a few minutes to do these steps will be well worth the time spent.
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PRODUCTS RECOMMENDED FOR MAINTENANCE:
*Always verify parts are for the correct make and model. Some of these links or parts may have changed or vary slightly from the time I purchased them, or may not be bike specific.
- Rubber gloves
- Power washer – comes in handy when washing a motorbike
- Air Filter– if needs to be replaced
- Air Filter cleaning kit
- Motor Oil– choose brand
- Oil filter
- Transmission Oil– choose brand
- Oil mat – I recommend one of these to avoid spills, any brand
- Tire pressure gauge
- Spoke wrench
- Spoke Torque wrench
- Spark plugs
- Chain lube
- cable luber
- Cable lube (WD-40)
- Grease for bearings
- Front brake pads
- Rear brake pads
WASHING A BIKE
Why is this important? It keeps build up from getting on your engine, wheels, sprockets, frame, etc. Leaving mud to dry out is especially hard on any type of rubber seal or o-ring.
Bikes need oil just like any other machine does. Regular oil maintenance is one of the most critical types of maintenance. Oil should be checked each ride and replaced at regular intervals. If equipped, don’t forget to change the oil filter as needed.
CLEAN AIR FILTER
Next to regular oil maintenance, a clean air filter is probably second on the list of most important. Dirty filters can cause debris and dirt to enter the cylinder and valve trains and cause premature wear and/or damage to internal engine components. There are many different types of air filter cleaning kits and methods to keeping machines breathing clearly. If the air filter is past it’s recommended life span, it is best to replace it. Using compatible oils and cleaners can make cleaning air filters pretty easy.
CHECK WEAR ON TIRES
To check the wear on the tires, simply examine the tire tread and sidewalls. If the knobs are falling off or the sidewalls are cracked, it’s pretty obvious the tire should be replaced.
CHECK TIRE PRESSURE
Tire pressure should be checked using a tire pressure gauge. Pressure should be around 12 psi in the front and 13 psi in the rear. Lower the pressure if riding in sand or mud. Increase the pressures if riding on rocks and hard surfaces. This is just a preference. Too low of pressure can cause rim damage and spokes to loosen.
In order to true a dirt bike wheel, each spoke needs to be checked properly. To make this process easier and more accurate, use a spoke wrench and a spoke torque wrench. There is a specific method to tightening spokes and can be very difficult. And if done incorrectly, can cause damage to the spokes or rim. It is recommended getting advice or doing some research before performing such a task.
CHECK SPARK PLUG
Checking spark plugs is easy to do. After removing the plug, it is easy to see what condition the spark plug is in. Most plugs will be golden brown at the tip, if jetted correctly. This can vary greatly depending on the type of plug and gas/oil mixture if running a 2-stroke.
Don’t forget this step. It is always a good idea to have chain lube on hand. Depending on the type of lube used and riding conditions, most chains should be oiled each ride. A dirty chain can reduce the ability for the engine to transfer drive power efficiently to the rear wheel and cause premature wear.
Lubing cables is important because, like other maintenance, it prolongs the life of regularly used components such as the brake, throttle, and clutch. If they feel sticky, they need some lubrication. Cables should feel smooth without any grinding or binding. There are special tools such as the cable luber that can make this process pretty simple.
A little more time consuming, but bearings should be checked regularly for smooth operation. A good example are shock and linkage bearings. Most modern bearings are sealed and handle the elements okay. But as water and dirt build up around the outside, these components can start to wear and seize.
CHECK BRAKE PADS
We all know how important brakes are. It is a good idea to get in a habit of checking the front brake pads and rear brake pads. Most are pretty simple to replace. Check for chunks missing or if the pads are completely gone. This is also a good time to check the rotors for bends or cracks.
These are just a few steps that can be taken to ensure more confidence while riding, and prolonging the life of a machine. Maintenance is best performed as recommended in machine specific service manuals. Time will tell what a machine needs, and things may fail, even when properly maintained. Regular maintenance is always good practice. If nothing else, a well maintained machine, is a much safer machine.