Motorcycle Maintenance Tips & Things to Avoid

Motorcycle maintenance can be overwhelming to understand and keep up with. For new motorcycle owners especially, it may seem like there is too much information to know about motorcycle upkeep. This can be off-putting to those who are on the fence about buying a motorcycle, but don’t let maintenance scare you! Here are some do’s and don’ts about motorcycle maintenance that you can refer back to when it feels like there is just too much to know.

What is the best way to wash a motorcycle?

The best way to wash a motorcycle is to use the correct soaps for your vehicle and to avoid any cleaning tools that may scratch your bike. Even something as seemingly simple as washing your bike has a right and wrong way to do it!

Soap: You can not use dish soap or hand soap to wash your motorcycle. One of the most common mistakes people make when washing their motorcycle is to reach for household soap. Dish soap is designed to cut through grease. It will ruin that gorgeous coating of wax on your bike and leave you frustrated. Hand and body soap is no better, as these soaps often contain moisturizing ingredients that will leave a film on your bike.
Instead, opt for a proper automotive soap. It is designed specifically for the surfaces of cars and motorcycles. This soap is the best way to keep your paint and wax in good condition. 

Bug Clean-up: Dead bugs on your windshield and bike are an unavoidable part of motorcycle riding. The dead bugs on your bike are harmless– until you try to scrape or rub them off! Avoid this technique because it will result in scratches and scrapes in your paint. Instead, soak the dead bugs with soap and water until they are soft enough to remove by wiping with gentle pressure.

Can I wash my motorcycle with a power washer?

You should not wash your motorcycle using a power washer. It may seem like an effective short cut, as you may have seen it successfully erase the dirt off your neighbor’s RV and the grime off of your driveway. However, a power washer can permanently damage parts of your motorcycle due to its use of extremely high pressure. Instead, resist the urge to power wash your bike and use a gentle hose or a bucket of water instead.

If you still want to use some kind of electric device to take a short-cut in your bike cleaning process, feel free to grab a leaf blower! Using a leaf blower to dry your bike is one of our favorite motorcycle hacks, and saves a lot of drying time. 

Can I use WD-40 to lube my motorcycle chain?

You should not use WD-40 to lube your motorcycle chain. WD-40 is meant to be used for water displacement, which is what the WD in the name stands for. It is not meant to be used as chain lube because it does not have heavy-duty lubricant properties that allow your chain to stand up to fast movement. WD-40 is safe to use on your motorcycle chain to clean it and get water out of the hard to reach areas, but the chain should be lubed afterwards with proper chain lubricant.

How do I check the oil level in my motorcycle?

The most important thing to do before checking the oil level of your bike is to make sure your bike is upright and leveled! The most common mistake people make is to have the bike on its kickstand when checking the oil. When your bike is leaned over at an angle, like on it’s kickstand, you will probably get an inaccurate reading. You may end up putting far too much oil in your bike, which will cause problems for you later.

Instead, always make sure you have a stand or a front wheel chock to prop up the bike at level. If not, straddle the bike as usual and hold it upright while a friend checks the oil levels for you.

How do I change the oil in my motorcycle?

Before changing your oil, ride the bike for a few minutes to warm up the oil enough to drain easily. Once your bike is standing upright, remove the drain plug and the oil fill plug. Then, drain the oil drain into a drain pan. Then you can proceed to changing the filter and replacing the sealing washer. Finally, insert the drain plug and add your oil, but be careful not to over tighten the drain plug! This is a very common but very expensive mistake, as over tightening can strip the threads on your engine.