If you’ve found yourself stuck at home for any given reason, attending to your motorcycle may have crossed your mind. After all, fixing up and taking care of our precious two-wheelers can be a great mood booster. However, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming when thinking about what to fix, clean, maintain, or improve on your motorcycle. Despite the amount of things you can put on your motorcycle to-do list, there are a good few items that can benefit the quality of your ride for the short and long run. If you’re in the mood to get your hands a little bit dirty, here are 5 easy DIY maintenance tasks for when you’re stuck at home.
The last maintenance task you can try yourself at home would be to conduct an oil change. While oil changes are usually very straightforward, sourcing the right engine oil and oil filters or strainers is a must prior to changing your oil out—make sure to use the recommended oil and filter specifications of your manufacturer. Once you’ve sorted out the parts, it’s now time to begin the oil change.
First, locate the engine oil drain bolt which is typically found on the underside of an engine. Crack the bolt open and unscrew. Prepare with an oil pan below since engine oil will rush out of the engine once unscrewed and allow for the engine to drain oil fully. If applicable, locate the oil filter of the engine and proceed to replace the oil filter with a brand new one. Afterwards, seal and tighten all bolts and add oil inside the engine through the engine’s oil filler cap. Remember to add the manufacturer’s recommended amount for best results. Afterwards, you can proceed to start your motorcycle’s engine, have the oil warm up, and pat yourself on the back for completing your first DIY oil change.
Frame and suspension deep clean
The next item on the list for cleaning would be a body and suspension deep clean. This is not necessarily a detailing job, but a thorough cleaning of all the nooks and crannies on a motorcycle’s frame and suspension areas. Notable areas to focus on would be the entire swing arm of a motorcycle, the rear shock absorber, the front fork legs near the axle bolt, and areas of the frame around the footpegs, kickstand, and subframe. These particular parts are often overlooked when doing regular cleaning, but are also areas that are often hard to reach and are prone to build up of oil, dirt, and other road debris.
When cleaning the swing arm and frame, owners can follow a similar method as with a deep engine clean: spray degreaser, wait a few minutes, scrub lightly with a brush or towel, and wash down with water. However, for components with rubber such as the shock absorber and fork legs, it is advised for the components to be cleaned a step further with water and soap, and after drying, sprayed with a light amount of silicone grease in order to keep the oil seals healthy.
While chain maintenance has been discussed in greater lengths in a previous article, attending to a motorcycle’s chain can only net good results for your next ride out. Chain adjustment and cleaning is important in making sure that your chain and sprockets are able to retain their shape, last as long as possible, and ultimately keep the rider safe from random chain snaps or hops out of the sprocket. If you’re curious about adjusting the chain, feel free to check one of our previous articles on chain slack adjustment.
For chain cleaning, the optimal cleaner for removing old chain lube and other debris would be kerosene—since kerosene will not damage the rubber o-rings found on many modern chains. If you don’t have access to kerosene, you can instead use a high quality degreaser which would work best for chains without o-rings. After dowsing the chain with a healthy amount of kerosene or degreaser, simply scrub the chain with a brush and wash down with water afterwards. Dry the chain fully with a towel or a quick ride around the block, and apply chain lube to all parts of the chain.
Cleaning the engine is something that may have crossed your mind the past, but engine cleaning is not often a priority when washing a motorcycle and is often overshadowed by the cleaning of the frame and fairings. Cleaning the engine and accessory engine components will do much good for the performance of your motorcycle. Cleaning the engine will prevent long-term discoloration and oxidation from debris, and cleaning the radiator can do wonders for engine temperature management.
To thoroughly clean an engine, make sure you have clean and dry towels, a toothbrush with soft bristles, and a high quality degreaser solution for best results. Spray small amounts of degreaser on the engine components you want to clean, such as the engine fins or the radiator. Wait for a few short minutes before taking your toothbrush or towel and lightly cleaning the components. Remember to take it easy on the engine when scrubbing so as not to damage the surface. Thoroughly wash the engine down with water afterwards.
Tire air pressure
Another important item to check on the motorcycle would be the tire air pressure. Too much air pressure could cause a tire to lose grip on regular surfaces, while an underinflated tire will wear out quickly and will be difficult to control. Since motorcycle tires are relatively small, your standard bicycle air pump can easily inflate a tire by a few psi with a good number of pumps. Afterwards, ensure that your tire pressure is inflated to the correct pressure—you can refer to your owner’s manual for this, and after adjustment, you should be good for a number of rides to come.