COVID-19 Lockdown – things to do on your motorcycle.

Most of the bikes we see at the school are very well looked after, but occasionally a rider turns up, usually a track bike in a van which won’t start, or cuts out, handles badly, or has badly worn tyres or brakes.

I used to scrutineer occasionally for Retford Motor Club, and saw some real horrors. Loose engine and axle bolts, a loose seat, missing disc bolts, bad leaks, a frame repaired with fibreglass etc.

So lockdown is a chance to give your bike a good service and check up, as long as you are competent.

If you’re racing or doing regular trackdays, then your bike will requires far more maintenance than your owners manual states. Some models have enhanced routines if you are using them for competition.

You can get workshop manuals to download, free if you’re lucky.

If you need some more tools then don’t buy cheap, some of mine are over 50 years old. You need a good torque wrench to make sure everything is tightened correctly. Don’t guess. Worn tools will cause problems with rounded nuts, bolts and allen screws

The brakes are obviously vital, so check all the pistons are moving properly and strip and clean if they are not. They tend to corrode if not used regularly. Change the brake fluid if its more than 2 years old – use fluid from a new sealed container.

Make sure there’s plenty of pad left, motorcycle pads don’t have much to start with. Check the discs aren’t warped or badly scored, and the spools are tight. You can get replacements.

If you’ve not checked or adjusted your valve clearances recently or before, now is the time to find out how, and save yourself some money in the future.

Look at work you haven’t done for a while – or ever. Oil and filter changes are assumed.

Strip the rear swing arm and linkages, clean and regrease the bearings.

Strip the front forks, clean and change the oil. Consider using a grade thicker if it’s a road bike – check the forums thoroughly for advice.

Clean and regrease the steering head bearings, which are often neglected.

If you have a carburetted bike, strip and clean them carefully. If the float bowls have original cross heads screws made from cheese, make sure you use the correct screw driver bit, and considers replacing with Allen screws. You don’t want to leave fuel in them for long, as it evaporates leaving a residue that can be impossible to remove, blocking internal passages. Drain them after running the bike.

Drain and wash out the tank, you maybe surprised what you’ll find. If it’s rusty inside you can sort this with gravel, and there are various ways of recoating.

Clean the fuel filter.

Carb balancing kit it is easy to use, and is available from £50, but swap the pipes/dials around and take average readings if you buy cheap. You’ll probably need a small auxilliary petrol tank and fuel line as this is done with the tank off. £10 on Ebay.

Check the chain and sprockets, clean or replace. Make sure you tighten the sprocketsproperly and fit a new retaining tab to the engine sprocket if there is one.

If you’ve got a clutch cable, check it isn’t fraying at the ends, and lubricate it with light oil.

It’s worth checking the clutch, as baskets wear and notch and friction plates can crack and break. If they do, the clutch basket can explode wrecking the crankcase if you’re unlucky. Clean and grease the release mechanism if it’s cable operated, check for leaks if it’s hydraulic.

That should keep you occupied for a while, and your bike will thank you for it.

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