How to Service your Own Motorcycle

How to Service your Own Motorcycle

Some motorcyclists prefer buying their bikes while still within service plan. It’s not because of unreliability fears – it’s mostly to prevent that exorbitant servicing bill that some bike shops like to surprise you with. We’re not saying all bike shops overcharge for a service; the reality is that many do.

There is nothing wrong with paying for good service, but be sure you trust the people who will be working on your bike. Double check beforehand what needs to be done and what the quote will be. The worst thing you can do is to take your motorcycle in, without confirming what the possible ‘damage’ to your pocket will be. If it’s too expensive, you can always negotiate, or ask that other issues be postponed, without compromising on important maintenance requirements.

If your budget and busy schedule don’t allow, you can always service your motorcycle yourself. We don’t recommend this if your bike is still under warranty. If you service your own motorcycle, ensure that you keep all the relevant info (slips, times and dates of services) in the manual, in order to provide a full service history if you want to sell your motorcycle later.

How do I know when I need to service my motorcycle?
We mostly service our bikes based on the number of kilometres we ride. Each motorcycle will have a guideline on when to do a basic service, and when it’s time for a major service with the experts. However, a motorcycle may also need to be serviced based on a time frame. It can have low mileage due to short-distance riding, or because the bike goes unused for long time periods. In case of the latter, do the relevant service checklist below, and remember to drain your petrol tank and add some fresh new fuel. If you are not sure at what mileage to service your motorcycle, Google the year, type and mileage for an estimated kilometre service plan. You can also phone the manufacturer’s service manager for some guidance, if necessary.

Drain oil 
Start the motorcycle and allow it to idle for a few minutes – this allows the oil to thin a little, as it warms up. Drain and clean the sump plug. Replace the sump plug washer. Google the relevant oil for your specific motorcycle. Once you’ve changed the oil filter, fill the bike 3/4 and let it stand a little. Start the bike, and check the level again as the oil warms up a second time. Ensure the oil level is just over half-full – never too full and never too empty. Old oil is bad for engines.

Oil filter 

Remove the oil filter and replace it with a new one. When fitting the new oil filter, use your finger to rub a bit of oil on the O-ring of the oil filter. This will help seal and protect the filter for durability.

Spark plugs
Once you’ve removed the spark plug(s), check the gap for excess ‘buildup’. Clean deposits from the plug with a wire brush and spray-on plug cleaner. The key is to ensure that your spark plug is clean and that nothing prevents it from igniting. You can clean this with a steel brush, or you can just replace the spark plug(s) if you want to be sure that they work 100{02c0c177ee4fd9beaa1f7860c90a8df2b6c3227773fff8a5ad31f40277892f83}. Dirty fuel can cause the spark plugs to ‘clog’ up. This can cause splutter or difficulty starting your motorcycle.

Air filter 
A dirty air filter will negatively affect the performance of your motorcycle. If you do plenty of off-road riding, you may need to change or clean out the air filter more regularly. If you have a paper filter, it’s important to replace it; don’t try and re-use it. A washable filter can be thoroughly cleaned out with soap and water, and left to dry completely. Once dry, you can re-oil the filter by using an air filter oil spray to cover the filter again. The purpose of the oil is to trap the dirt and prevent it from harming the engine.


Check that chain tension is correct: not too tight or too loose. Lift the lowest part of the chain (closest to the ground) with your index finger. Allow for about an inch of movement. You will notice the moment you sit on the seat, that the chain will tighten up – this is why it’s important for the chain not to be too tight. If it’s too loose, the chain will make a noise when riding and may even climb off the sprocket. This is very dangerous. Always ensure that your chain is lubricated after you’ve washed it and it’s completely dry. You can use a chain wax or chain lube. Spray it on the part of the chain that you can see, move the bike forward a metre, and spray the other section until you’ve covered the whole chain.

Brake pads

It’s always important to check the wear on your brake pads. You can do this without taking it out of the front callipers. Push the pads apart gently, to see how much of the actual brake pad is still visible. Never use a brake pad too close to the metal. Be careful when taking your brake pads out. Be sure to put the relevant bolts, pins and clips back in the correct position, tightened and locked, to avoid any brake pads from falling out.

Fork seals
It’s very easy for fork seals to leak if your front forks have stone chips on them. In some cases, it happens if the bike has been standing for a long time. If you find oil on the forks, give the forks and fork seals a thorough wipe before riding. Check it again at the end end of the day. If it’s leaking again, ensure that you take just the forks or the entire bike to the closest bike shop or suspension specialist, and have the fork seals replaced. In some cases, you may need to sand the forks down, to get rid of fine stone chips.

Front and rear-wheel axles 
This is not always necessary to check, but it’s never a bad thing to clean and grease your wheel axles. If you do a lot of off-road or dual purpose riding, this is a must. If you only ride on tar, not so much. The aim is to clean off any gravel/dirt that gets stuck on the axle. Once it’s clean, it’s important to put the necessary grease on again, to ensure that it turns smoothly inside the wheel. You don’t have to over-grease it, but make sure it’s sufficiently greased so it doesn’t get stuck when you push it back into the wheel.

Tyre pressures
This may seem basic, but we assure you, it isn’t. Tyre pressure has a profound effect on handling. If you have a flat front-tyre, you will find that the motorcycle turns with more difficulty. A flat rear-tyre will give you a wallowy feeling and will damage the wear of your tyre. Always check your motorcycle’s tyre pressures before going out on a long ride. Do not check it after you’ve ridden a distance already, it will give you an incorrect pressure.

Servicing your motorcycle regularly is as important as brushing your teeth. Don’t neglect it and ensure you use the correct product. Remember, safety is key!

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