Wednesday, 6 June 2012 8:36 AM
Some bikers see their motorcycles as nothing more than a cheap and easy way of commuting, while others love the romance of riding on the open road. There is also a third group who are fascinated by technology and engines, and enjoy nothing more than tinkering with their machines.
If you are one of those riders who is happy to get their hands covered in oil as they adjust and maintain their motorbikes, you will have at least thought about carrying out your own servicing. This can be a cost-effective way to keep older machines in top condition, but you need to be certain you know what you are doing.
A reputable service centre will have all sorts of equipment you will not have access to at home, together with fully-trained technicians. Having your bike maintained at one should ensure you stay within the terms of your warranty, which is important if you opted to buy a new or nearly-new machine.
However, there is nothing to stop you looking after your own motorcycle if you wish to, and with an older bike you will not have any warranty-related worries. Should you choose to do this, you need to ensure you have the correct basic tools and access to the right parts.
The latter is particularly important if you are doing any kind of sizeable repair as part of your service, as not all components are suitable for use on all makes of motorbike. Ask for advice from the dealer when you come to purchase them and ensure you use, for example, approved Yamaha parts for a Yamaha bike.
If you are just carrying out basic servicing tasks, you will need a number of different parts. You will discover there is more freedom in terms of the after-market brands you can choose, but make sure you check they are right for your particular model before buying them.
A key task in any service is to change the oil and filter, as this will help to protect important parts of your engine. Draining and replacing the oil is a simple job and anyone with even the most basic of mechanical skills and their bike's manual should be able to swap the old filter for a new one.
You will also need to look at the condition of the motorcycle's air filter. It is possible to clean this, but if there is any sign of damage or it is particularly dirty, it is sensible to replace it, which is another straightforward task.
Checking the spark plugs is a standard part of any service, as they can become worn and clogged by deposits from the combustion process. They can often be simply cleaned and adjusted, but you will need to replace them if they are corroded.
You will, of course, wish to ensure your bike remains safe and in the correct condition to pass its MOT, so it is imperative the brake pads are inspected during your maintenance regime. If they are worn they must be changed, otherwise your ability to stop in an emergency will be adversely affected.
If you have any doubts at all about your skills with a spanner, you should hand this job over to the professionals. Paying a trained technician to replace your brake pads will be more expensive than doing it yourself, but given what could happen if you get it wrong, it is a wise investment.