Tech Tips

Servicing Your New Motorcycle

Written by  August 31, 2007

In last month's issue, I gave you the low down on information that may be slightly controversial but noteworthy regarding the break in procedure for your new piston rings. So what happens when you hit the 600 mile mark on your odometer? Referring back to the factory service manual will give you a periodic maintenance table that identifies the items that need to be serviced, and also lists specific items that need to be addressed, as well as torque value’s that need to be applied.

When you get close to that magical number and you feel this service is something you may want to tackle yourself, I feel you should at least change the oil! All engines have metal contamination in the oil filter in the early-on stage because of metal break-in that occurs when the engine is new. That metal ends up in the oil filter, and that’s why you need to change it. When you are dealing with Japanese bikes, the oil change is pretty self explanatory, and most of the 2007 models come equipped with a spin on-type filter that can be loosened with a specific filter tool or strap wrench you can purchase at any auto parts store.

This all depends on your level of mechanical skill and the kind of bike you own. More exotic bikes, and a few domestics, have fairly involved first-service requirements. I recommend that if your bike is a European or Italian made model, taking your bike to your dealer may be the best solution for you. You don't want to void any warranty the factory has applied, especially if this is the first of the brand you've owned. Also, because the resale value of high-end bikes is more likely to be influenced by documented, dealer-performed service, spending a little now will protect your investment down the road.

The average Japanese model is a different story and there's not much value in having this kind of documentation, so I say, 'get er done.' Oh, one word about the legalities before we get started. Your warranty is valid if you do the first service yourself, so don't fall for your dealer's scare tactics on this point. You should, however, keep the receipts for the oil and filter to prove you at least did change the oil and filter at the 600 mile range. It also gives you a great reference to monitor any oil consumption down the road.

The actual items in the table of maintenance will be quite different across the board so please follow what the manual for your bike says, don’t just try to wing it! These machines have had millions of dollars of research and development spent on the design and they have complex ignition and fuel systems today that require precise tuning and calibration to keep them at peak efficiency in the running arena. Besides the oil, you will want to check the bolts and fasteners for the appropriate torque values per the manual, as these items are all part of the first service check and it is a needed task.

Now, if you feel that you have comfortably done the items in the table then you are that much farther ahead than you think! The other items may be visual, like coolant and brake fluid levels. If the brake fluid is low, simply add to the level and be careful not to spill on the painted surfaces. When it comes to the coolant, see what is recommended by the manufacture and do not differ from that. Auto coolant is a good product but it is not designed for the motorcycles of today. Only use what your dealer recommends for the model you bought. Also, don’t forget the tires and the final drive, like shaft oil or belt and chain tension. I feel the first service should be a head-to-toe type inspection that will identify any pre-existing problem before it’s too late.

Performing the first service on your motorcycle can be done in just a few short hours and this procedure can be very rewarding because you did this yourself and had a great time doing it! Keep in mind that motorcycles are machines and the more TLC you show them, the happier and the better they will perform when you need them the most.

Everyone traveling this Labor Day weekend, be-safe and please look for cars because it seems many bikers are getting hit and apparently not seen by the auto drivers.
B-safe out there!

Dave Miller