by Liz Jansen
As exhilarating and freeing as it is to get out on the open road, there’s one big reality you can’t ignore: your motorcycle. They’re machines whose components wear with time and use. Follow these seven easy steps to make sure they stay in excellent operating condition so you can focus on enjoying your ride.
- Know your fuel range. Most riders know how far they can travel on a tank of gas, but they don’t always include what’s still in the tank after the fuel light comes on, or after they’ve switched to reserve. It’s likely a significant amount, depending on your riding style. While it’s not wise to let your tank get that low, it’s reassuring to know the full range should you need it.
- Carry the essentials. You can purchase or put together your own essentials in three small kits and stow them on your bike: tire repair kit; tool kit, usually already on your bike, but you may want to add a few extras that may be hard to come by; and a miscellaneous kit, with a few items that can get you out of a bind. Read more about them here: 3 Essential Emergency Kits for Motorcycle Travel.
- Check your tire pressure. While traveling, I check them almost every day. The one minute it takes is invaluable in keeping your ride safe, reducing unnecessary tire wear and avoiding downtime, usually in an inconvenient location. It’s also a great time to quickly inspect your tires for wear or damage.
- Check your oil level. Refer to your owner’s manual for the correct method of confirming you’ve got the recommended amount of oil in your engine. If your bike has a propensity to burn oil, you’ll want to check it more frequently. Letting it run too low will damage your engine.
- Conduct a pre-ride inspection. Before you pack up and ride away for the day, give your bike the once over. Look for fluid drips on the ground, signs of wear on cables, loose fasteners—including that on luggage, and make sure running lights and turn signals are working.
- Keep up with routine maintenance. Carry your owner’s manual on extended travel (mine’s tucked under my seat) and keep track of when routine maintenance was done. Know what maintenance will be needed while you’re on the road and plan ahead for places that can do it. During peak times, shops are often booked, but they often accommodate travelers.
- Keep your drive chain healthy. If your bike has a one, check the chain’s tension frequently and know how to adjust it. Refer to your owner’s manual for the correct adjustment and read this guide: How to Inspect, Lubricate and Adjust a Motorcycle Chain.
Incorporate these steps into your daily routine to keep from getting stranding and then set your mind at ease. You’ll have a lot more time to enjoy the road and all the wonderful experiences that happen when you’re out enjoying it.