Let’s face it, taking your beloved motorbike to a garage and asking a bunch of strangers to fix or service it is never desirable. Unless you’re confident in the garage’s abilities and know they have a track record of awesome care and service, you’ll always be taking something of a gamble.
This is particularly frustrating when the work required appears to be relatively minor. Why pay someone else to do something you have a sneaking suspicion you could undertake yourself?
Good news – you can undertake it yourself. In fact, we’re so confident you’ll be able to get your hands dirty successfully, that we’ve picked five motorcycle maintenance tasks that you can undertake now. The only things you’ll need is a standard motorbike workshop maintenance manual and a few low-cost tools, which are very easy to come by online.
The mere mention of anything brake-related when it comes to DIY maintenance might lead you to assume you’ll need qualifications in CNC machine milling and motorbike construction in order to make a successful job of it, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Replacing your brake pads is actually relatively straightforward. Your workshop manual will be your best friend here, but the process of pushing back pistons, sliding out calipers and replacing discs is surprisingly easy with the right tools. Just check your replacements thoroughly once done to ensure they’re road ready!
Most bike batteries only get tended to when they run out – i.e. at the least convenient time. Regular maintenance is, therefore, a must.
You should find your battery situated beneath the biker’s seat or petrol tank. Every couple of weeks, remove it from its holder and check the acid level by placing it on a flat surface. If low, top up with de-ionized water.
Grease the terminals before reattaching your battery, and you’ll help avoid corrosion, too (just don’t touch both terminals at the same time!).
Thankfully, this isn’t a job that needs carrying out regularly, but if you start to encounter the odd misfire, a dodgy plug might be to blame.
Remove one plug at a time and replace them with the correct ones for your bike (there should be a code number on the plugs themselves). No need to over-tighten on re-entry – just screw in by hand and finish off with a quarter-turn of a wrench.
If the chain on your bike doesn’t have the right tension, it can result in premature gearbox wear. Assuming that’s the last thing you want, you’ll be glad to hear you can check the bike yourself for correct chain tension.
Refer to your workshop manual’s section on chain tensioning and ask a friend to sit on the bike while you adjust it (the chain will tighten up once someone is on board). Your bike’s owner’s manual should provide the correct torque setting for each bolt, and a good torque wrench will ensure you set them just so.
Oil and filter change
An oil and filter change usually constitutes a mini service, which is why this job often ends up in the hands of a garage.
It needn’t, because you’re just as capable of doing it at home. Again, turning to your workshop manual for full instructions, make sure you start with the engine warm and refer to the owner’s manual for confirmation of the best oil to use. Just be sure to avoid overfilling (you can remove some with an oil syringe if you go too far).
See? Who needs that expensive garage? You sure don’t.
A word of warning before you reach for your toolset: if you ever feel unsure about what you’re doing or appear to be putting your safety at risk, you’re best off giving that garage a call. No motorbike is worth injuring yourself for or damaging in a bid to fix it DIY-style!