Having your motorcycle running at its best is only achieved if your motorcycle service is performed correctly and often. Motorcycle service is the key to having an enjoyable ride. There are a few important motorcycle services that are often overlooked. Everyone always gets their oil changed although sometimes not often enough. Engine oil for a motorcycle should be changed every 4k miles. Motorcycles are not like cars when it comes to engine oil being able to go 10k miles or more between changes. The most common reason for this is because the transmission and clutch are encased within the engine. Thus the oil is lubricating three times the amount of wearable parts than a car. Many motorcycle engines are also air cooled. It is less common with newer models, but many models manufactured in the 2000s, especially cruisers, were air cooled which are subject to higher operating temperatures. You best believe that bike is getting hotter than it should if you are sitting in traffic in ninety degree weather on your way into work. Especially if you are commuting on a sport bike. Sport bikes go through twice as much wear compared to a car. Have you ever considered the size of your sport bike engine with regards to a car engine? A 1000cc motorcycle engine is a 1 liter. Most 1.8 or 2.0 liter car engines produce 150+hp at least. Your modern day 1000cc motorcycle produces 180+hp and is half the size! It also revs three times faster and twice as high compared to cars. Cars typically do 3.5 to 4k revolutions per minute at highway speeds. Your sport bike is anywhere between 6k and 8k revolutions per minute at 65mph. To help your motorcycle engine withstand these high temperatures and extra wear motorcycle oils have additives to combat wear. This is why you always need to use motorcycle specific oil when getting your motorcycle service performed and why it can cost a little more than car oil.
Keeping the engine purring is what most owners care about more than anything else. In reality though your most important fluid to change can be your brake fluid. Brake fluid should be changed every 8k miles or at least every two years. This motorcycle service is often the most commonly neglected motorcycle service. When you do not perform this service on a regular basis it can lead to some serious problems and cost you more money. Performing a brake fluid flush on a non ABS motorcycle is relatively easy and should not take a lot of time. If the system is neglected it may not be able to be flushed properly without taking the calipers or master cylinders apart to thoroughly clean them of clogs. If a brake system gets clogged this can give you a false sense of brake pressure. Meaning your brake levers may have a lot of pressure when pulled or pushed, but the fluid does not flow through the entire system so pressure is not fully being applied to the brake rotors increasing your stopping distance in the event of an emergency.
Subsequently your brake system can also build up too much pressure if the oil turns into a sludgy substance. It can happen just like it does in your engine. If the pressure is too great this can cause your brakes to drag. This wears down your pads and rotors faster while in worst case scenarios dragging brakes are more likely to lock up under hard braking causing you to go down. Even if you are off the levers you may go down mid corner because the brake is being “applied” at lean due to the built up pressure. Excessive dragging may not get to that extreme in two or three years, but it can cause enough minor damage to the pads where they glaze over due to the heat. Glazing on brake pads creates a smooth slick like surface which decreases your stopping power when you need it most. I end up rebuilding a lot of brake systems due to the lack of maintenance; it honestly surprises me. Riding motorcycles is already a dangerous hobby why would you put yourself at more risk when it can easily be avoided with routine maintenance. Brake systems on motorcycles are not like the systems on cars. They are much smaller. Meaning all the passageways throughout the braking system are easy to get clogged.
While we are talking about our braking systems it would be a good time to address your suspension. I am often approached about having a suspension system dialed in for riders. I find just making some adjustments to pre-load and compression is not what should be done first. If your bike is five years old the fluid in your suspension should be changed. According to the service manual most suspension systems should be serviced every 8k miles, so for some riders that is more often than every five years. The oil in suspension breaks down just like oil in your engine. It can become contaminated with condensation build up overtime as well as form sludge in the internal passageways of the suspension. When the fluid gets old in the forks or rear shock you will often feel the bike become too soft. If you find the ride is not very comfortable and bumps have a harsh sudden feel to them. That is a good indicator that your fluid is old. Getting your motorcycle service performed on the suspension would be what is needed instead of having your suspension adjusted. While the suspension for your motorcycle service is being completed it would be a good time to do some upgrades. The first easy upgrade would be the weight of fluid you put back in your suspension. Most bikes come with five weight suspension oil. Going to something that is thicker like a ten or fifteen weight can stiffen up the suspension just a little. I typically recommend ten weight for most costumers. Going to heavier weights feel good when you ride aggressively, but are harsh for bumpy roads. Especially if you change out the springs in your suspension. This would be the next upgrade to consider when your motorcycle service is being performed. Having the bike properly sprung for your weight is the best way to have your suspension dialed in and the best way to tailor your bike to you. Aftermarket springs are not very expensive either compared to buying aftermarket suspensions in general. So when you are getting your motorcycle service performed on your suspension for maintenance or seal replacements spend the extra $120 bucks and treat yourself on a set of springs.
If you think your bike is not handling properly it could be related to your brakes. Having brakes that drag or have excessive pressure when the brakes are applied affect how the chassis of the motorcycle behaves when entering and exiting a corner. Suspension set up is obviously a key factor here, but not having your motorcycle service done on the brake system is also important for how your motorcycle behaves when cornering. These are the most commonly overlooked services that when left unaddressed can lead to some expensive repairs. Getting your motorcycle service performed by a professional is the best thing to do. I service a lot of bikes after the owner or a buddy has worked on the bike and have found that it is often done incorrectly. This not only makes it harder for a dealer to work on, but it can also take a lot longer costing you more money in the long run to get the motorcycle service finished. To get the best motorcycle service in Montgomery County, MD stop by Ak Cycles or schedule a service. We look forward to seeing you.