There are 5 basic maintenance items all owners should be able to do themselves. These are things that need checking between service intervals.
1) Tyre pressures low tyre pressures have an effect on handling, braking, fuel economy and even performance.
Your correct tyre pressures are usually on a decal on the l/h side of your swingarm different bikes run different pressures so it is important to get them correct.
Many people tell me they go by information on the tyre itself this is not correct. An average tyre will lose 1 PSI a week so i recommend checking monthly.
2) Drive chain the free play on the drive chain is checked in the middle of its length (midway of the swingarm) the free play varies between models but the most common is 25 mm (1 inch)
Adjustment is simply a case of pulling the rear wheel back usually this is done with adjusting bolts on most bikes some have what are called snail adjusters refer to your owners manual.
When checking the free play you need to find the tightest point as chains can wear unevenly the better a chain is looked after the less likely this will happen.
This is one of those jobs that may seem hard but once you have learnt is very easy. There is a strong temptation for people to go to you tube this may not be a good idea. I have seen clips that are perfectly correct but many that are not.
A bad drive chain can come off and cause many problems and chain and sprockets are not cheap. A well looked after chain will last a long time a badly neglected one will not.
Your chain may require adjusting every 1000 kms or see between services with no attention needed.
This depends on many things quality of chain, riding styles, weather as riding in heavy rain washes off chain lube.
Lubing your chain there are many different chain lubes available and in my experience many do not do the job many of those are the expensive ones so you don't always get what you pay for.
The common question is how often should i adjust and lube my chain the true answer is when it needs it as that varies between bikes and people,
I do recommend checking every 1000 kms
If this all sounds too hard it could be worth doing one of my maintenance courses. This would offer you good value as it will teach you how to to this correctly
3) Engine oil level. Modern bike do not usually use oil if you are going through oil it will usually be due to an oil leak somewhere.
It is important to check the level regularly just to be sure i would usually suggest every 1000 kms most bikes will not require any oil between services.
A common problem i see is bikes that are overfilled. This causes many problems as the excess oil is sent through the breather into the air box which destroys the air filter and makes a mess.
There are different ways to check the oil level on different bikes but some rules are standard.
Oil level is checked with the bike standing up straight not on the side stand and with the motor not running.
Below are some of the most common types of oil level checking types
sight glass in most cases that is located on the clutch cover, That is the large engine cover on the r/h side of the motor, please note left and right is worked on if you were sitting on the bike as if riding.
In this case you stand the bike straight if it has a centre stand that is best if not you can hold the bike straight, there is a simple trick to this call me and i will explain.
Allow the oil a short time to settle the oil should sit around 3/4 of the way up the window if there is no air gap you cannot tell how overfilled it is.
Some bikes have an oil sight glass on the l/h side this makes it harder to check unless you have some one to hold the bike up for you, or you find a block to put under your side stand. I admit this seems like a design fault to me.
Bikes with a dipstick if the dipstick is in the motor it is the same as above except you remove the dipstick wipe it clean and sit it back in do not screw it in. The dipstick will have a low and full mark. Please note a few bikes require the dipstick screwed in the only ones i can think of are Triumphs i recommend checking your owners book.
Dipsticks in frame usually dirt bikes these require the motor to be run for a few minutes before checking to have the oil returned to the frame and checked with in a short time
4) Cleaning this may not sound right but when you wash and polish your bike without realising it you are checking it over. You will notice things that are coming loose or broken. Any oil leaks will be very noticeable.
There are a couple of cautions
1) Tyre never use tyre black or any dressing on Motorcycle tyres, it may look good on your car but the car does not lean. Tyre black used to have a warning on the can but i don't think it does now.
2) Seats do not polish your seat with armour all or anything else it makes them slippery
Cleaning of these areas is best with soapy water
Riding a clean bike is more pleasant and helps keep its value
5) Lighting test this takes only a minute and when you are in the habit you do it without thinking
tail light check it is working a bike with no tail light at night is invisible from the rear
brake light make sure it works from both brakes front and rear each is operated by a separate switch
headlight high and low beams are both working
horn test regularly as they don't get used much if you need it, it is nice yo know it works
If this all sounds a bit hard you may get good value from doing my maintenance course.
In the course which is done one on one, i teach you all the basics above and more. For more information get in touch with me.
People who have done the course have enjoyed doing it and found it improved their confidence and understanding of their bike.
Nothing beats having some one show you hands on how to do something. Watching videos and reading can help but cannot answer any questions you may have.
This course should be enough to see you through between services and save you money by avoiding problems before they become big problems