Summer Motorcycle Maintenance Checklist

older white male examining motorcycleIf you’re looking to keep riding right until fall, this is a good time to give your bike some TLC. Jeff Holt, Editorial Director of Hot Bike magazine, offers five tips to keeping your bike in top form.

Check those fluids

Motorcycle fluidsKeeping your ride properly lubricated is key to avoiding many of the common mechanical issues involving fluid deficiency or degradation. Summer months are dry and hot, so the incorrect amount of oil can damage your engine and transmission. Leaving old engine oil in for too long can also unleash harmful acids, while old fuel can clog the fuel system.

Intake and exhaust

Motorcycle exhaustYour bike has to breathe in and out to run properly, so you may need to check the air cleaner to get rid of any noticeable debris. If the filter looks too dirty or has holes peeking through, replace it to avoid harmful agents creeping into the engine. Give the head pipes and muffler a thorough inspection, looking for any cracks or damage that may rob the engine of horsepower or any signs that they’re in danger of falling off.

Tires and driveline

Motorcycle chainHeat usually makes things rise, and that includes the PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) in your tires. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s suggested ratings and pump or drain them as needed. Inspect the tread to gauge how worn they are, and replace them if they’re too low or are showing signs of rot.

With that done, give the bike’s chain or belt a thorough look, too. Driveline sprockets or pulleys shouldn’t have any signs of hooking (i.e. the teeth on the sprockets or drive pulleys are intact and not worn), and belts and pulleys shouldn’t have any noticeable damage to them. If they do, it’s time for new ones.

Watch the brakes

Motorcycle BrakesWhen you need to stop, you need your brakes to do it right. Start by checking the brake lines for wear or damage, and then actuate them to check for leaks or pressure loss. Look at the sight glass or brake master cylinders to ensure that brake fluid levels are where they should be. And finally, check the front and rear brake pads to make sure there’s a good amount of material left.

Battery and electronics

Motorcycle lightsA weak or dead battery isn’t uncommon in the heat of summer. A tired two-year-old battery, or one that won’t hold a consistent charge, probably means a new one is necessary. Bare wires and cracked shielding are also bad news. Make sure all the switches work and the lights illuminate like they should.

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Originally published August 2015

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  1. James Bay says

    Thank you for this great post! I really like how you mentioned the brakes. This is a really big safety issue. It would be dangerous to neglect. That was a great reminder.

  2. Deanna R. Jones says

    Thanks for the tips! I have experience maintaining a car, but this is my first time owning a motorcycle, so I should learn a thing or two about taking care of them. One noticeable difference that I can see between taking care of a bike from a car is that they need to have debris cleaned out of the air cleaner. Making sure that the filter is clean and remains in good condition seems important to keep my motorcycle running, so it’s good that I know to clean out the air filter now.