Everything in life needs maintenance, including your motorcycle. Minor performance issues can bring your cruising to a halt, leading to significant time spent on repairs. Two-wheelers don’t need nearly as much maintenance as passenger cars, but they run on similar parts that perform the same essential functions. They need regular oil changes, tire inspections and other services explicitly reserved for motorcycles.
Proper motorcycle maintenance starts at home. Inspect your bike every time you ride to prevent potential issues from becoming major concerns.
A tune-up includes a fluids check, battery and electrical tests, tire pressure/tread inspections and an overall safety check. Repair experts recommend bringing in your motorcycle for a full-service review every 6 months. However, your maintenance schedule depends on your riding style and the condition of your bike.
Here are eight warning signs your motorcycle needs repair:
- Loss of Power
Keep track of your speed and how quickly your bike accelerates. A drop in power can usually be traced back to the engine. Chances are the fuel pressure isn’t at the correct PSI, or the spark plugs aren’t reaching the required temperature to heat the fuel. Either way, the issue demands immediate attention.
- Poor Fuel Efficiency
The same goes for how quickly the engine consumes the fuel. If the engine loses power, chances are that some of the fuel is going to waste. It’s not being burned or not reaching the combustion chamber, which is like throwing your money down the drain. To resolve the issue, you might need to have the spark plugs or fuel injectors replaced.
Pay attention to how often you refuel to see how the mpg rating compares to the mileage rating advertised by the manufacturer.
- Electrical Problems
If your motorcycle has trouble powering all the electrical devices and inputs, the battery is likely on its way out. There could also be a wiring issue or circuit damage. Reduced electricity will also make it harder to start the engine as the spark plugs struggle to heat the fuel.
Check the amount of light coming from the high beams and the sound level of your horn. Look at the screen on the GPS to see if the image is fading.
- Braking Issues
Not being able to brake on time is every rider’s worst nightmare. If your stopping distance gradually increases, the brake pads could be worn — or you could be low on brake fluid.
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If you’re having trouble coming to a stop, alert your crew and look for a clear off-ramp that will reduce your speed. Use motorcycle helmet communication to let your friends know when your bike malfunctions so they can help clear a path for you to come to a stop.
- Rust and Decay
Rust is like cancer for any motorized vehicle. It degrades the metal until it breaks down, leading to leaks and structural damage. Go over the ins and outs of your bike for the reddish-brown disease to see if your bike is afflicted.
You can try salvaging rusted parts by washing off the callouses before the components degrade. Use wax on the clean metal to prevent further deterioration.
Dents, cracks and strained components are also cause for concern. Look for anything out of the ordinary when inspecting the vehicle. Clear away dust, mud and dirt as it accrues. Check to see if the belt or chain is taut and that none of the links are coming loose.
- Unusual Sounds
Your ears can pick up issues invisible to the naked eye. Clanking, grinding and screeching sounds aren’t to be taken lightly. They could mean a part is out of place or parts of the engine don’t have enough fuel or lubrication. Listen to your bike when starting the engine and riding at different speeds.
If you like listening to music or having conversations with your pals on the road, use motorcycle helmet speakers that automatically adjust the volume based on the surrounding noise level. Some noises only occur at high speeds. You shouldn’t block out the sound of the engine entirely to avoid letting these warning signs slip through the cracks. If you ride in a noisy area, take your motorcycle somewhere quiet to listen to every buzz and whistle.
- Oil Sludge
Dirty, sludge-like residue at the bottom of the tank usually means something is leaking into the oil supply, such as rust, fuel or carbon soot. Thick oil will clog the system, leading to poor lubrication and overheating. When you change your oil, it should come out as fluid.
- Increased Vibrations
It’s normal to experience vibrations at high speeds, but too much shaking usually means the bike isn’t properly lubricated. Without clean oil, the metal parts will rattle and grind against each other, sending shivers up and down your body.
Each make and model comes with unique requirements. Check your owner’s manual for specific repair instructions and maintenance intervals.
Your motorcycle is perhaps your most trusted companion, so treat it with the love it deserves. Take your bike in for a tune-up when you first notice strange sounds, performance issues, rusted parts and strong vibrations to make sure your ride is firing on all cylinders.