Simple motorbike maintenance jobs you can do yourself  

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Fancy carrying out some maintenance on your bike, but aren't sure where to begin? These are our top tips for DIY beginners.

Clean it!

It may sound obvious, but a lot of bikes are neglected in the cleanliness department. It not only encourages components to deteriorate, but washing the bike regularly allows you to inspect the mechanical components. So the first rule of bike maintenance is to wash it! This is particularly important in the winter, as the corrosive road salt will do your bike no favours at all.

Use a decent quality bike shampoo and hot water. If you buy a dedicated bike cleaning solution, follow their instructions (some recommend a prewash, followed by a 'soak' with their solution). It's best to clean the screen and panels first, to avoid picking up grit and scratching the bike. Either that, or get a bucket grit guard.

We'd avoid being over zealous with a jet wash – although on filthy bikes it may be your best bet! Once you've finished, use an anti-corrosion spray.

Expert tip

Don't be tempted to use washing up liquid, just because it's close at hand. It's too aggressive for bike components, and can deteriorate rubber parts. Use the correct stuff!

Handy parts and tools

Check your tyres

Making sure your rubber is in good condition, is both quick, and vitally important. Check the condition of the tread, and the tyre pressures. Consult your handbook to ensure you're running the correct pressures. Look at the condition of the tyres, and never take risks. Don't forget that your tyres may need more pressure if you regularly carry a pillion passenger.

Expert tip

Always check your pressures when the tyres are cold, never straight after a ride.

Handy parts and tools

Chain tension

There are plenty of reasons why checking chain tension is important – an incorrectly tensioned chain can lead to early gearbox and sprocket wear, snatchy transmission, and reduced rear suspension travel.

Familiarise yourself with the method, and the correct adjustment by checking online, or in your workshop manual. You will need a decent quality torque wrench to tighten the bolts correctly. Don't forget to add chain lube once you're done. This will prolong the life of the chain.

Expert tip

_Set the chain's tension with someone sat on the bike, as the chain will tighten when there's someone on it! _

Handy parts and tools

Bulb replacement

Check all your bulbs to ensure they work. Always replace like with like, and don't forget to clean any debris from the light unit where you can get access. There are lots of bulbs on the market, so make sure you get the correct one. Don't forget the number plate bulb, as these are often overlooked.

Expert tip

When you're fitting new bulbs, particularly the headlight, don't touch the glass portion of the bulb. The oil from your fingers can create hot-spots leading to premature bulb failure.

Handy parts and tools

Battery check

Because most bike batteries are hidden away beneath the seat or tank, they're often neglected. It's wise to periodically remove yours to check its condition. Modern sealed batteries require no maintenance, but older batteries need to have their levels topped up with de-ionised water if they get low. Be mindful that battery acid is very corrosive. You don't want it on your skin, or on your bike!

Don't forget to grease the terminals before you refit it. This will eliminate corrosion, and make removing it in future a doddle.

Expert tip

_If you leave your bike unused for a long period of time consider getting a bike battery conditioner. _

Handy parts and tools

Coolant check

You can check your coolant levels by looking at the bike's expansion tank (if fitted). The tank will have high and low levels marked on the side. With the engine cold, and the bike on a level surface check the level.

If your bike doesn't have a tank, you can remove the radiator cap (NEVER when the engine is hot) and make sure the fluid comes up to the bottom of the filler neck. If you need to top up, do so with the correct fluid, so always check your handbook before buying any coolant.

Handy parts and tools

Oil your cables

When your bike is first made the manufacturers grease/oil the cable housing. Over time this grease degrades. You can get a hydraulic cable oiler relatively cheaply, and it's a worthwhile addition to your tool kit. Used correctly you will improve your throttle and clutch action, and greatly reduce the risk of cables snapping due to corrosion. While you're oiling them, take the opportunity to adjust any slack out of them to give you better response.

Handy parts and tools

Get your motor running

There’s nothing quite like feeling the road beneath your two wheels but you know better than many that keeping a motorbike in great working order falls somewhere between a labour of love and a vocation. Then, you’ve got to make it look good…