The more you learn about your bike, the more you are going to love the money you spent — and will spend — making it your unique ride. From a purist’s perspective, no honorable rider would pay a mechanic $75 an hour plus parts to do things he could do himself. We wear the grease under our nails proudly, and we’re happy to share a few tips for new riders on how to get to know every nook and cranny of your motorcycle.
The head gasket is a simple $25 repair that if done regularly, will keep you on the road and save you hundreds in repairs. A worn gasket results in leaks, which can lead to serious damage such as a cracked head or destroyed valves. In this video, Cruiser Customizing recommends changing the gasket every time you change exhaust pipes because they become worn and cracked. Some gaskets work well with o-rings, which are rubber seals that fit inside the gasket and seal it to the pipe. An o-ring size chart will help you determine which one best fits your model.
YouTube is full of step-by-step videos for changing spark plugs on several motorcycle models. Your manual will tell you how often to change yours and where they are on your bike. If you bought your bike used, go to the manufacturer’s website; most of them have downloadable manuals for every make, model and year. To change a spark plug is easy as long as you have the right tools: spark-plug wrenches, spark plugs and a brush to clean away dirt. VisorDown.com recommends changing one spark plug at a time, so you don’t mix up the leads when you put in the new plugs. Always avoid over-tightening spark plugs, whether in your automobile or motorcycle.
Changing the oil on a motorcycle is easier than changing it in a vehicle, simply because of the easy access to the engine. This video will walk you through how to change your bike’s oil. It’s as easy as removing the engine cap, putting a tray under the engine, removing the plug and letting the old oil drain. As the video recommends, research what type of oil is best for your bike’s engine. Check the manufacturer’s website.
Back to School
If you are really into DIY repair, and we think you should be, search the Internet for “motorcycle repair course” in your area. If your bike didn’t come with a repair kit, invest in one. For tire repairs, you’ll need patches and CO2 cartridges with the adapter that fits the tire valve. You’ll also need wrenches, a tire gauge, spark plug sockets, tape and a flashlight. Many companies make motorcycle repair kits specifically for certain makes and models. For example, we found one at motorcycle-superstore.com that was made specifically for Harley-Davidson.
Photo by Flickr user KYNGPAO