Like personal hygiene, regular bike maintenance is the basic step towards ensuring your two-wheeler is always in the pink of its health. Just like a human body, neglecting the wellbeing of your bike will only lead to dull performance, frequent breakdowns and have an adverse effect on your two-wheeler’s roadworthiness and your own safety. Thankfully, keeping your bike in top shape isn’t all that difficult. As long as you follow a basic maintenance schedule, your two-wheeler will perform reliably and like new until the time you keep it. Not to mention, it will also attract a handsome resale value when you part ways with it. Here are a few bike maintenance tips.
On-time Replacement of Fluids
Know the feeling when your throat is parched and how your body wants to collapse when you’re dehydrated? It’s the same with a two-wheeler when it’s running low or hasn’t been revitalised with vital fluids which are essential for its smooth operation. Ensure that all fluids, including the engine oil, brake oil, coolant etc are replaced on time. It is okay to be extra cautious and replace them slightly before the recommended interval. However, postponing the replacement schedule will definitely lead to increased wear-n-tear, dull performance, low efficiency, and if you’re really lazy, a breakdown in the middle of nowhere.
When topping up, make sure you use manufacturer recommended, high-quality engine oil/ fluids. If you decide to switch to a different brand, other than what has been specified in the manual, make sure you stick to the recommended grade, viscosity and temperature parameters specified for your bike’s engine. Keep the chain clean using a de-greasing product and lubricate it at recommended intervals. Use a chain lubricant only and do not pour any random oil or grease to get the job done.
Follow your bike’s manual to the ‘T’ when it comes to visiting the service station for a periodic maintenance stop. Talk to your service advisor and notify him about any known issues the bike’s been facing. Once the job has been done, take the bike for a spin to ascertain if all reported problems have been resolved and every job mentioned in the final bill has been done. If any major component has been replaced, ask for the damaged component to be returned to you. If possible, insist for the replacement to be carried out in your presence and ensure parts replaced are genuine.
Signs of Aging
Once your bike starts to get old, you should take time out more frequently for a periodic visual inspection. Check for any cracks in the cables or if any of the bulbs have been flickering or glowing at half their capacity. Notice for any changes in the bike’s performance or any strange noises from the engine when you ride. If there’s any such thing happening, visit the service station immediately and get the bike checked as it could be a worn out clutch or a bearing or something even worse.
Check the tyres for their tread and overall health. Check the wheels for any bends or cracks and get them checked for alignment and balance at regular intervals. Once the battery starts getting older, it loses its charge rather quickly and will give up on you eventually. Get it replaced with a new unit if required. If any of the control switches or levers look or feel fragile, replace them. Same goes for the footpegs if they’ve become loose, have become too scruffy and do not lend much confidence when you rest your feet on them.
Check the side stand for its tautness and ensure it hasn’t changed its angle too much over the years, making the bike leaning dangerously while it rests on it. The fuel filler cap can become ill-fitting or its key mechanism could go bad with time, allowing fuel to evaporate slowly or water to enter when it rains. Replace it with a new one or fix the existing unit if possible, since the ignition key and the filler cap key are mostly common. Do not neglect the mirrors and ensure they retain their adjustability at all times. Tighten the stem if it’s loose or replace the entire unit it if the glass housing hangs free.
A large part of bike maintenance also involves your usage pattern. Ride the bike according to its character and capabilities. For example, riding a high-torque motorcycle constantly near its redline is pointless if the engine generates its peak power at a much lower point. Similarly, if you regularly max out a small capacity single for extended durations, its components will wear out faster due to overheating. Frequent cycles of sudden braking, acceleration and violent gearshifts will result in increased wear-and-tear of all major components. Goes without saying that pulling off wheelies, burnouts and stoppies is not only hazardous for your own and others’ safety, it also takes a big toll on the components of your bike.
These are little things which go a long way in ensuring that your bike stays in a healthy state at all times. Ensure that the bike is cleaned and you perform a self-check after every long trip. When you park it, do so in a place where there’s a good amount of shade. Exposing your two-wheeler to direct sunlight will rob the paint of its sheen and cause the plastics and rubber components to harden and develop cracks. Check and maintain recommended tyre pressure regularly. Do not run the bike in an almost-empty state frequently. If it comes equipped with an FI system, the fuel pump’s life gets reduced drastically.
These are just some of the basic bike maintenance steps, which if you follow, will ensure that your bike performs to please, every time you thumb the starter. If you haven’t started yet, it’s never too late.