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If you own a motorcycle, it’s natural that you’ll want to make your bike last forever. Motorcycles are more durable than most vehicles if you take the right steps and maintain them properly.
In the past few years, I’ve owned more than a dozen motorcycles. Most of them were older than 30+ years. I’ve seen first-hand how far a little TLC can go and what can happen if a motorcycle isn’t well taken care of. Here is a list of helpful tips that’ll keep your motorcycle lasting for years to come.
It needs to be cleaned regularly
Although it may seem odd, regular washing your motorcycle can make it last longer. How does washing have an effect on it’s longevity? It can have a significant impact on your longevity.
Over the last few years, I’ve been restoring motorcycles. I’ve bought motorcycles that were well maintained while others were left in fields for years. I saw the effect that dirt and grime can have on a motorcycle and it isn’t pretty.
Dirt can cause motorcycle components to wear out much quicker. Dirt will absorb water and keep metal in contact with it, making rust more likely. Regular washing helps prevent dirt and dust from building up inside the engine. It is a good rule of thumb to give your motorcycle a thorough clean every two months.
Keep it out of the rain
Motorcycles can be destroyed by water. That’s not to say that letting it get rained on once in a while or riding in the rain is going to completely ruin your motorcycle. It will not last if it is left outside with constant moisture.
Without getting too technical: Rust (or iron oxide), forms when oxygen and Iron react with moisture. The process of rusting is faster if a motorcycle is more exposed to water.
Aside from rust, water also has a tendency to find itself in place it shouldn’t. This includes inside the engine and in the filters. It could cause engine damage by water getting into it. Keep the motorcycle in a garage, shed or storage unit if possible. If those aren’t available, use a cover when the bike isn’t being used.
Keep it out of the Sun
On the flip side of keeping your motorcycle out of the rain, it’s also important to keep your motorcycle out of the constant exposure to the sun. Occasionally leaving your motorcycle outside during a hot sunny day isn’t bad, but it can have an impact if it’s constantly outside in such conditions.
The sun emits UV radiation that can be harmful to various components of your motorcycle. You’ll likely start seeing the clear coat starting to peel off the tank then ultimately fade the paint altogether.
Also, rubber components may also take a hit. The rubber components will be less effective due to UV rays. Some of these components are foot pegs or handlebar grips as well as gaskets.
Your motorcycle should be kept indoors, away from direct sunlight when possible. Click here to see my article about why it’s bad to leave a motorcycle in the sun.
Check Fluids Regularly
I could go on forever about how important it is to maintain your motorcycle. But chances are if you own a motorcycle, you’re well aware of the maintenance it requires. So in addition to regular maintenance, it’s always a good idea to occasionally check in on all the fluids of your motorcycle, even before you need to change them.
Even if you’re following the recommended intervals for oil change, coolant flushes, and bleeding the brakes as needed, it may not be enough. But some motorcycles may run out of fluid before you’re even aware. And a lot of motorcyclists don’t pay attention to the fluids in their bike until it’s time to change them.
Check all fluids frequently to ensure your motorcycle lasts longer. My rule of thumb: I check all fluids every other time that I fill up my motorcycle’s tank with gas.
Keep it locked up
Motorcycles are a hot commodity among thieves simply because they’re a lot more accessible compared to other vehicles. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there were 44,268 motorcycles stolen in the United States in 2017.
If your motorcycle is stolen, you won’t have a motorcycle to maintain in the first place. Lock up your motorcycle properly so you don’t become a victim of theft.
To prevent a motorcycle from being stolen, you should use several methods at once. Simply using a disc lock may not be as effective as you’d like it to be. There are simple ways to ensure your motorcycle is safe. Click here for more information.
Pay Attention To Acceleration
It’s almost instinct to go fast, do sudden accelerations, and rev the engine of your motorcycle to show it off a little bit. While that is fine in moderation, doing so on a regular basis can start taking a toll on your bike and it’s engine.
Consider how a motorcycle’s engine works. The pistons are constantly moving up and down to create the power that the motorcycle requires to run. Constantly revving your bike and riding it to it’s limits will begin to wear down those major components within the engine much faster. Those who are mindful of how they’re using their motorcycle engine (and not maxing it out all the time) are more likely to have a motorcycle that lasts much longer.
There’s a lot more to tire maintenance than simply making sure it has the correct PSI. The tires are an integral part of how a motorcycle operates, as well as the impact they have on your safety. Yet they’re a element that don’t really seem to get much attention.
You can also check the tire pressure several times throughout the year. Pay attention to how much tread has been left. Also, look out for cracks or bald spots. Sometimes, signs like these could indicate a more serious problem on your motorcycle.
If you don’t maintain your tires properly, you might find yourself with a blown-out tire every now and again. Blown tires can lead to accidents that are dangerous for riders and sometimes even fatal for the motorcycle.
Ride it Regularly
Regularly riding your motorcycle is one of the best ways to prolong its life. Motorcycles are meant to be used, not kept in a corner of the garage for 11 1/2 months.
A lot of people are under the misconception that rare use of the motorcycle makes it last longer since you’re not “wearing out parts” Or risk getting it damaged. It is true that the parts on a motorcycle break down much more quickly when they sit dormant than when they’re being used.
Gaskets become more fragile as they age, gas is contaminated, condensate builds up in the carbs, engine, and chain, making it harder to move. You’re “exercising” The motorcycle will be stronger if you are able to ride it often, just like human muscles. To learn more about the consequences of letting a motorcycle sit, see my other article.
Wax Tank once a year
As we discussed previously, motorcycles can be very vulnerable to the elements. This is particularly true for motorcycle gas tanks. They become more susceptible to paint chipping over time. A sustainable motorcycle tank equals a sustainable bike. A motorcycle can’t run without fuel and you can’t have fuel without a durable tank.
Your motorcycle’s tank will last longer if it is oiled once a year. The components inside a good wax and polish kit protect the clear coat that’s on the motorcycle tank which makes the paint and clear coat much more durable during harsh conditions.
Use a Fuel Cleaner
A motorcycle’s fuel system and engine will become clogged over time. This is especially true if the cheapest gas is used. It’s always a good idea to use a fuel cleaner, such as Sea Foam, once in a while for your motorcycle to clean out those deposits.
A good fuel cleaner will clean the intake valves and carb passages as well as the combustion chambers. Most fuel cleaners also act as a fuel stabilizer in case you’re planning on storing your bike some time soon. You can extend the life of your motorcycle by adding fuel cleaner to your fuel once a year.
Use Ethanol Free Gas
It really does matter what type of motorcycle gas you use. Low quality gas can cause engine deposits.
A motorcycle should only be equipped with high-octane, ethanol-free gas, particularly if it has a carburetor. Ethanol is easy to absorb into water, which eventually leads to carbs becoming clogged and gunked-up. You can read my article here about why ethanol is bad news for motorcycles.
Know When You’re In Over Your Head
Since motorcycles are much more simple than cars and other vehicles, it’s much more doable to perform DIY fixes on them. This will not only save you money but also teach you a new skill.
While I am all for doing repairs on a motorcycle yourself, there are some instances where you need to call it quits when you’re completely in over your head. It can be hard as the motorcycle owner to have to admit you can’t figure out a certain problem on your bike.
But in reality, since you have no idea what you’re doing, you may cause further damage to your motorcycle which may cost you. Know your limits and acknowledge when you need a professional mechanic’s help. It will be a great gift for your motorcycle.
Your driving habits can have a big impact on the life expectancy of your motorcycle. Safe, defensive riders will be able to own a motorcycle much longer than those who aren’t as aware of their surroundings.
Lack of defensive riding increases the chance of an accident. If your motorcycle is totaled, there’s no bike to maintain in the first place. Motorcyclists should adhere to basic safety rules, such as wearing the correct gear, never riding in the middle of major highways, following the speed limit and not weaving in and out of lanes.
Set reminders to remind you about maintenance
Basic maintenance is crucial for the life of a motorcycle and it’s longevity. Sometimes, however, it’s hard to remember when it’s time to do said maintenance. There’s a handful of components that require care at certain times, so it’s no wonder it’s easy to forget when they need to be serviced.
A higher chance of your bike breaking down is if you forget to perform maintenance. I like to make some sort of reminder for myself so I don’t forget to perform certain maintenance on my bike. This can be in a planner, a daily planner, or programmed in your phone.
Whatever method works for you, be sure to put in a reminder of when the next type of maintenance is due so you won’t forget and do it too late.
Get the Right Insurance
Insurance is something that most people know they need but don’t understand. As frustrating as motorcycle insurance can be, it’s extremely important you have it and that it has good coverage.
Motorcyclists must have minimum liability insurance in most states. This insurance is required in the event that you cause an accident or damage to another person. If you are the cause of an accident, however, liability doesn’t cover you and your motorcycle.
Do your research to find out if you are more than just liable. Other add-ons such as comprehensive or uninsured/underinsured can help repair your motorcycle if you’re in an accident. Click here to see my other article that discusses why it’s important to have motorcycle insurance.