Basic motorcycle maintenance is important for all riders to know. If you take good care of your bike, you’ll be able to enjoy it longer. Here are some basic ways to regularly maintain your bike:
Changing the oil on your motorcycle is critical to keeping your engine running properly. You’ll have to consult your owner’s manual to see how often you should be changing the oil. It’s best if you can warm your bike up for about 5 minutes or so before changing the oil. Then turn off the engine and stand the bike up, remove the drain plug and let the oil drain into a pan. After that, you can replace the filter and replace the oil using a funnel.
Check tire pressure.
Your bike’s tires will last longer if you maintain the right tire pressure. More importantly, tire pressure can become a safety issue if not regularly checked. On the side of your tires, you’ll see what the pressure should be. To check tire pressure, first, find the valve stem. Then, after removing the cap, press an air pressure gauge on it. You can use an air compressor to get your tire to where it should be.
Replace the air filter.
Replacing or cleaning your bike’s air filter is important because this filter protects the engine from debris. You can use compressed air to clean your bike’s air filter. Sometimes it’s easier just to replace the filter. How you access the filter will vary by motorcycle. Some are easy to access and others are trickier because they’ll require you to remove parts of the body to access them.
The best way to maintain your bike’s battery is to keep it charged. You can use a trickle charger to do this. Just be careful not to overcharge it. A good rule to use it to “never charge a battery at more than one-tenth of its rating in amp hours.” If you don’t follow this rule, you may end up overheating it and ruining your battery altogether.
Replace the coolant.
Replacing your bike’s coolant is another important part of maintenance because it will protect the engine from heat, cold, and corrosion. To replace the coolant, you’ll remove the coolant drain bolt. After draining, you can use a funnel to add the new coolant. You’ll have to check your owner’s manual again to see how much coolant your particular bike needs.
Keep the chain clean.
Lastly, it’s important to keep your bike’s chain clean because the chain transfers power from your back wheel to your engine. The best way to keep the chain clean is to apply lube after every ride. If you do this when the chain is still warm, the oil will be able to get into the chain better.
Creating a list of items to pack for any trip helps ensure you bring all of the essentials, and this is just as important to do when preparing for a motorcycle road trip. If you have a bike with built-in bags, you have a bit more flexibility when loading up. Adding on luggage isn’t out of the question, but it’s vital to pick your luggage accordingly; you can’t just bring any type of luggage along.
Choosing Your Luggage
Going on a multi-day trip will require you to carry items with you somehow. For bikes that don’t already have built-in luggage, you can choose between hard cases and expandable soft luggage. Hard cases are beneficial because they are more durable than soft luggage and provide better weather protection. However, they are much heavier, larger, and can be costly. Expandable soft luggage, on the other hand, is lighter and less expensive but is much easier to unzip (or cut open), making it more susceptible to theft.
Packing for Two
If you have a partner along for the ride, you will need to make some compromises when packing. Bring only the essentials along with you, leaving heavy items like hair dryers and electric razors at home. A general rule of thumb when traveling in a pair is to bring twice the money you think you’ll spend and half the clothing. If you are planning on staying the night in a motel, you can get away with bringing two pairs of clothes each – one for the ride and one for activities while off the bike. You can take advantage of laundry rooms at the motel or hotel when the clothes become unbearable to wear.
When loading the luggage onto your bike, it is imperative that you keep everything balanced. Aim to position your heavy items low and towards the front of the bike. Try to keep the right and left stable as well. Luggage can easily pull your motorcycle in one direction if it is not packed correctly, and the last thing you want to do is become unbalanced while on the road.
Do a Test Run
If you are going on a multi-day road trip for the first time, pack all your luggage onto your motorcycle and go for a test drive, preferably for a few hours. This will allow you to make sure your bags stay in place and your straps remain tight before you set off on your trip. You also want to make sure you don’t have too much packed that it makes it difficult to get on and off your bike.
Many people enjoy riding motorcycles as a result of their maneuverability and openness. However, these features come with a few trade-offs when compared to cars and trucks. Unlike four-wheeled and many three-wheeled vehicles, motorcycles do not have a sturdy base to support their weight. Motorcycles are kept upright by a kickstand, a rider’s legs, or momentum. A motorcycle can easily fall over when none of the three options are available for it to keep balance. A rider may discover during the moment that their motorcycle has fallen over that motorcycles are decently heavy. However, no matter the size and strength of the rider, there is a proper way to pick up a motorcycle.
Before a rider attempts to pick a motorcycle up from the ground they should ensure that the engine is turned off. Turning off the engine will prevent further damage from insufficient fluid flow. The rider should then open the kickstand so that the motorcycle can have a sturdy foundation to stand on. Lastly, the rider should ensure that the bike is not in a neutral gear so that it doesn’t roll as they attempt to pick it up.
Once the proper preparation steps have been taken, the rider should then turn their back towards the motorcycle and sit on the edge of the bike’s seat. Next, the rider should hold the end of the handlebar and walk backwards so that the bike begins to stand up. As the motorcycle begins to approach an upright position, the rider will want to lean it over at a slower rate so that it can rest on the kickstand.
The method presented here works for riders of all shapes and sizes. Picking up the motorcycle this way also allows a person to utilize the power of their legs, rather than their arms or back muscles, in order to safely pick up a motorcycle. At the 2018 New York IMS conference, Harley Davidson performed a demonstration of this technique using a lightweight rider and a decently heavy Harley Davidson Sportster. During the demonstration, the presenter was not only able to pick up the motorcycle with ease but she continued to talk as she lifted the motorcycle off of the floor. With practice, it should become fairly easy to do.
About Graham Zahoruiko
As Director of Organizational Effectiveness, Public Benefit Corporation, Graham Zahoruiko is leading greater corporate shareholder wealth, public benefit, and social responsibility. Graham gets to exercise a level of independence that is rare in the business world. He needs to rely on himself to deliver on what he has been hired to do. There are no shortcuts, only hard work, and self-reliance. These are qualities intrinsic to Graham Zahoruiko, so it is no wonder that they permeate through his personal life as well. Graham is a motorcycle enthusiast. His most peaceful moments are when he is astride his Harley-Davidson and on the open road. Again, independence is the key. The iconic images of the lone rider tearing across the pavement are certainly romantic, but there is an undeniable beauty to it as well. It is a part of American culture – the independent traveler forging across the country à la the pioneers during westward expansion. The public’s understanding of motorcycle culture is also influenced by popular films – Easy Rider, the Wild Ones, Mad Max. Biker gangs are often a popular trope in these films, echoed by real-world incidences. For instance, the Hell’s Angels at the Altamont Free Concert in 1969 and the violence that ensued.
Graham Zahoruiko was introduced to motorcycle riding as a child when his uncle would give him rides in the front yard. In those days, helmets were optional and Graham and his uncle found themselves on the ground from unsuccessful wheelies. These early experiences manifested themselves into a lifestyle on the bike. Riding has always been a thrill that Graham has enjoyed as it compliments his spontaneous personality. Graham Zahoruiko averages about 5,000 to 7,500 miles during the riding season — April through October — on his black 2013 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softtail Classic.
For Graham and motorcycle riders alike, the open ride provides an immense sense of freedom in the open air. Sometimes with no destination in mind, the motorcycle is the ultimate escape. The open road and the motorcycle community provides the opportunity to meet some of the kindest and most patriotic people. Whether it is a motorcycle rally, event or ride, you always have the chance to meet and learn from interesting people all over the country.
Motorcycle enthusiasts like Graham Zahoruiko have to fight against those negative connotations. To that end, Graham has been able to combine is the love of riding with another one of his passions – philanthropy. Graham regularly participates in fundraising events focusing on motorcycle riding. For example, the 9/11 Ride. The event is organized by America’s 911 Foundation, Inc., and is purposed to remember the heroes, volunteers and victims of September 11th, 2001. Preserving the memories of all those who answered the call on that horrible day is the charge of the ride, and for the best 13 years, they have been very successful. The Ride is an annual event where 100s of riders travel together en mass. For a thousand miles, the caravan rides in formation, visiting each of the three major 9/11 crash sites. The event has grown tremendously, where now major highway interstates are shut down entirely and thousands of spectators line the streets to cheer on the bikers and honor the fallen.