Last spring, I sold my car from high school and bought a new Honda motorcycle. What can I say? It’s fast, it’s sleek, and it gets great gas mileage (and I’m never on it without my helmet!). I’m already a little familiar with the short-term and routine maintenance I have to do to keep it in good shape. What do I do for the next few months and years, though? I like this bike and I plan on keeping it for a long time. How can I make sure I still have it for years to come?
Owning a motorcycle is a little like owning a horse. For the first few months, it needs to be broken in. Don’t run it too fast. Don’t make hard stops or aggressive starts. And don’t take it on overly difficult rides. After those first few months, a properly broken in motorcycle will behave better and perform better. It will also need less maintenance than one that was not properly broken in.
Also like a horse, though, even a properly broken in motorcycle will need lots of care and attention. For a horse, this means if you don’t take of it, it might become aggressive and difficult to ride. For a motorcycle, it means the same thing.
For these reasons, it is important to get into the habit of regular motorcycle maintenance. It sounds like you are already doing some maintenance on your own. That’s great. A brand-new bike won’t need as much care as one that’s a few years old. Once you have ridden it for a while, simple monthly and yearly tasks such as inflating your tires, cleaning your air filter, and oiling your sprockets and chain can add years of life to your bike.
What do you do after the first few months, and the first few thousands of miles? The oil should be changed every six months or every 3,000 miles. Oil is your bike’s lifeblood. The more frequently you change the oil, the better the bike will run. Most sites also suggest checking your wheel bearings at least once a year, because the wheel bearings are among the parts that can be the most catastrophic if they fail.
Finally, and this is important, every motorcycle needs valve adjustments. Motorcycles take air into the engine, and expel exhaust fumes. Because they get so hot, the valves this air travels through expand when the motorcycle runs, which causes them to become loose when they cool down. To keep your motorcycle running well, you need to reposition and tighten them. Each motorcycle will have a different schedule of valve adjustment intervals, and your owners manual should give you the intervals at which you should check your valves (most motorcycles need valve adjustments every 4,000 and 12,000 miles).
You never know what might happen on the road. You can do everything right but end up tipping your bike over in your garage by accident, and crack a handle bar. If you can find an affordable source for Honda motorcycle parts, we suggest bookmarking them. That way, in the event of a sudden mishap, the part you need is just a click away.
We also recommend getting a repair manual, or aftermarket manual. Different from an owners manual, these thick books are great for laymen and gearheads alike. They provide a complete strip-down of a bike, which shows how every single nut and bolt fits together to create your cycle. Repair manuals can help with long-term, intensive fixes, as well as customization.
Knowing your machine inside and out is key to keeping your bike in shape. If you follow these repairs, and are diligent in your care, you will be riding your trusty metal steed into the sunset for a long, long time.