In the automobile segment, there is a huge need for proper education, which dealers never provide. By education, I mean the knowledge on proper maintenance and operational habits; care of the machine etc. It’s actually rare to find someone who has been educated at the time of purchase about various aspects of the vehicle he is purchasing.
Now, as a bike enthusiastic, I have spent lots of time gathering, understanding motorcycle. There are different approaches towards maintenance. You can do it in both cheaper way and expensive way. Which one you choose depends upon your financial condition and mentality at the same time.
You don’t need to be an engineer to maintain your own motorcycle. There are few basic things which needs to be taken care off . Certain parts of the motorcycle demands maintenance on frequent basis say once in a month. Some demand after covering certain kilometer. But believe me IMHO the best is your judgment for faulty or malfunction of a part.
Mentenance On Regularbasis:
The chain is a very important Component of your Bike as the chain is what powers the rear wheel. The Chain drive of bike has to be in proper condition so that the there is no power dissipation when the power is delivered from the engine via the cam chain tensioner to the rear wheel. A Bike’s chain, sprocket and the cam chain tensioner are the main components that transfer power to the road from the engine. The chain, sprocket technique is the most efficient method to power the rear wheel and that’s why most of the bikes employ this method. Some bikes employ Belt drive transmission system and some big V-twin Bikes like employs a Shaft Driven Transmission system like in a car. The chain can’t handle the extra torque produced by the bigger engine as there is higher wear and tear so shaft system is used in higher engine capacity bikes. There was a time when 2 stroke engines ruled the roads and if you had a plan to buy a machine back then, the dealer would have said a lot about the machine even before you actually bought it, But they frequently missed out on informing the new buyer, after he has purchased the vehicle, about the grade of oil to be used in the engine. This reportedly caused a number or engine seizures as the owner simply did not have knowledge and caution on the type of oil to use. All vehicles, be it big or small, need great care for extended service life and reliability, you would know that not everyone around is directly or indirectly related to the automobile arena so hence a lot of them would just simply follow the principle of ‘fill it, shut it, forget it’.
Each machine has a lot of moving parts and the reality is that most of them depend on each other for proper functioning, if one of them were to fail, then the resulting event would be like a chain reaction which would lead to failures of different kinds. There are spares which can and cannot be serviced and maintained by the average person, some of the spares which can be maintained also happen to be crucial components, they, can also be taken care of quite easily simply with a little spare time and a few basic tools at most.
So how can I maintain the bike myself, you might wonder? Well, here is a list of things which can you can take care of.
Main chain and sprocket
Greasing of joints
Adjustment of Brakes
Adjustment of Control levers
Adjustment of Hinges (if any).
The above is applicable for almost all kinds of two wheelers. So, come on let’s begin with the DIY…
Main Chain & Sprocket
This is a really important part of the bike, and as you might know, the bike won’t move at all if it’s in bad condition. During the monsoons, bike that have an open chain and sprocket against a covered one would need regular oiling, but at the same time, oiling for a closed chain and sprocket can be done just once in two weeks or something. The conventional way for lubricating chains was by using molten grease. This procedure was quite lengthy and used to take almost 12 hours to complete the job. But now you get special sprays for lubricating the chain system.
Along with the sprays, engineers would also advice on greasing the chain. But an open chain system requires either grease or spray due to the fact that grease or oil is a real magnet for dust and dirt; you might realize this when you look at a well greased chain after a week or so of riding. The usual interval for greasing the chain varies depending on the weather and the riding conditions. It’s usually recommended to grease it once in one or two weeks.
For people who can’t seem to find sprays, or prefer another way of doing it, follow the directions below. There are two methods that I’m explaining here:
1st method: Remove the chain from the machine; Dip it in clean diesel for at least 5-6 hrs. Then use the brush (plastic type bristles) for cleaning the mud out of it, and then re-wash it in clean diesel. If possible, hand it for about 2-3 hours to allow the diesel to drip out of the chain. This process would make the joints and the links on the chain free and smooth, the next step would be to dip the chain in EP90 oil or in 20W40 engine oil. There is no need to buy expensive or branded oils for it. You can buy oil which could be affordable, because the ultimate aim is to clean and lubricate the chain links in order to keep it from rusting, coming back to where we left off, after dipping it in the oil keep it that way for 4-5 hrs. And then allow it to hand in order for the oil to drip away, after you have done all of the above, simply install the chain back onto the machine.
2nd method: This is a more common method used for chain cleaning. Follow the same steps as above until the part where you allow the diesel to drip off from the chain, after that, take about half a kilogram of AP3 grease and heat it up so that it turns into a molten liquid. After its liquid enough, pour the same onto the chain and wait till the grease turns solid. After making sure that the grease is cold, remove the chain from the drive system and remove all the extra grease by wiping with the help of a soft cloth. This would make the chain ready to use again and so you can install it back on to the machine.
This happens to be an essential spare in a two wheeler. On our Indian roads, the horn and warning lights are an important element, these systems require the battery for functioning.
A battery is made up of lead, which is dipped in acid water. Acid water also means electrolyte, this means that the battery acid can actually damage the paint job and cause corrosion to other parts as well, so when you handle a battery, make sure you do so with care. Also, one common problem that batteries face is the oxidation or terminals. Each battery has a positive(+) and negative (-) terminal and overtime, the reactions in the battery cause these terminals to oxidize and that in turn reduces the voltage it can deliver.
So, how this can be avoided? Well in the market there are special sprays available for battery terminals. ‘Battery Coat’ is the best spray in my opinion and this can be sprayed on the terminals to remove or avoid oxidation. The spray avoids the terminals from direct contact to the air. If the spray is not readily, available then the best and the most conventional way to solve this problem is by using VASELINE petroleum jelly. By applying some amount of petroleum jelly the oxidation will not take place. The main drawback of this jelly is that it has a low melting point and during summer seasons, you might find that you need to do it a little often.
Control levers, brake springs, brake pedals are some of the common points where its advisable to apply grease. Different climates also dictates the use of different types of lubrication. When it rains, it would be unadvisable to use oil for lubrication as it would get washed away easily. Grease would be the best for the monsoon. In summer as we know the temperature is high and its usually always dry. Generally air flows with dust particles. So in summer using oil is the best option for some of the spares. In rains, generally, the temperature becomes very low. At this time greasing would be the best option rather than oiling. Grease attracts dust very fast and could create resistance in moving parts.
This process is very simple and can save you a lot more than money. Every vehicle would have its own basic tool kit. Generally all motorcycles, scooters have 13mm nut size for adjusting the rear brakes. A suitable tool for this bolt would be in the tool kit. There needs to be a little caution applied when tightening the brakes as a tight setting can jam the brakes and cause a lot of problems like engine and brake overheating and also low mileage, at the same time a loose brake setting can slow your reaction time down. So adjust it as required.
One of my friends used to wash his Bullet for at least 6-7 hours. Well yes 6-7 hours, wondering why? Passion. He used to wash with brush, diesel, cleaning soap etc.
Many washing centers simply use a soap mixture and a dirty towel (which can really scratch your paint job). They would just do it for the money. You, on the other hand, know your vehicle well and so it would be easy for you to clean it, here are a few tips that can help you. Oil stains can be removed easily by using solvents like diesel or kerosene. First spray some water on the machine and then use diesel or kerosene. Then spray water for cleaning it. If you own a new machine, you can keep its paint looking like that everytime by following some simple steps. Use a soft, clean towel and try to wash the mud (on the painted parts) out rather than scrape it off. Also, as much as possible, use a Ph neutral shampoo. Look on the label before purchasing it. After washing don’t forget to oil or grease the joints or parts as told above. Avoid greasing or oil before wash as it may become useless.
These levers are made up of some kind of alloys. But since it is a moving part that a rider would use frequently, make sure you grease the joints well.
These are usually found on Royal Enfield Bullets and Honda scooters. These hinges always require oil and rust cleaner spray to keep rust away and they can break loose if not well maintained.
I have explained how you can easily maintain your bike rather than spend money by sending it to the workshop. No dealer would keep reminding the rider to service the bike all the time. These are factors which the riders would need to keep track of in order for the machine to be in service flawlessly for a long time and always remember, respect the machine, the machine respects you.
Before you ride - Motorcycle Maintenance
It is tempting to start a motorcycle and to ride off, but a few minutes of routine maintenance will go a long way in taking you the full distance of which your machine is capable. You do not need to tick off items on a sheet as jet pilots must, but a short mental sequence of things to check and to do will add to your enjoyment and safety as well. Remember to schedule your day, especially awakening in the morning, so that you have the time to do a thorough job, preferably at first light. It is a bit like looking after a baby and for many, every bit as joyful.
Step one: Check oil levels and quality in your motorcycle’s engine. Things can slosh around a bit by the time you get to a gas station and you do not want grime from an attendant’s cloth getting on to your piston. Check levels before the machine has been moved and spot changes in color and fluidity as you look after the machine day after day. Run your fingers or a cloth along lines to check for leakage and the check the ground under where the machine has stood all night, to look for tell-tale stains and pools of oil. Please collect spent oil and have it disposed off safely and in an environment-friendly way at the nearest certified facility.
Step two: It is no big deal, but run a cloth all over and wipe away dust and dirt. Polish is great twice a month or after every tour, and a little water and even mild detergent are welcome. It is a motorcycle bonding thing; do not expect love and enthusiasm from a machine for which you do not care.
Step three: Work both brakes to ensure that they are in good order. Your life and that of people who share your road could depend on it! Check the linings for width and surface after long tours and rides in traffic. Do not wait until the very end to change linings. Check the gear shift as well and rotate the handle bars through the full radius of their movement, to make sure that it is all smooth sailing on that front.
Step four: Check water levels in and terminals on the battery and switch on power to see if lights are all in order. You will not know if the headlamp is set correctly until dark, but turning and brake indicators as well as the tail light are all important for your safety. Check tire pressure with a calibrated gauge and keep manufacturer ratings in mind or on a piece of paper in your wallet. Remember that readings can be misleading when the wheels are hot, whether due to air temperature or a ride. Take a look at the tread and for sharp edges lodged within them.
Last: Switch on and let the engine idle so that oil has a chance to line pistons and cylinders. After a minute-or two if it is winter-check the throttle to ensure that it will not let you down when you need to accelerate in a hurry.
Check the settings of your rear-view mirror, the clutch and the brakes one more time, before you set off for the day. All this is so basic and simple that riders think it macho to overlook them. This could be a recipe for expensive repairs at best and a mishap as well, God forbid! So get your thinking gear on, enjoy great rides and get the best of the motorcycling world with a dose of maintenance every morning.