June 27, 2018
With rough riding conditions of Kathmandu and ever persistent need to weave through 10 am traffic jams or a long drive through bumpy countryside roads, your bike will seek more and more of your attention. Thus, buying a two-wheeler doesn`t mark the end of your investment because its maintenance costs money too. Understanding your bike so that it can maintain its optimal performance can go a long way. Here are a few pointers to keep your motorcycle in good health.
1) Engine oil
The engine is the heart of your bike and is prone to wear and tear over time. But as riders end up making constant use of the clutch, the engine is put under strain. Engine oil lubricates the engine and gears inside reducing the friction and also help to keep the engine cool. Manufacturers spend a lot of time to determine the viscosity and the lifetime of the oil that your engine requires to perform at its optimum level. Using correct grade of engine oil and changing it at regular intervals by referring to your service manual can allow your two-wheeler to maintain its best performance for a long time.
2) Air filter
Air filters are components inside the air intake valve which cleans up the air that goes inside the engine to help burn the fuel. Cleaner and purer the air, the better the combustion and hence the better fuel efficiency and power. Although air filter seems like a non-trivial component, it plays a major part in running your bike day in and day out. Otherwise, your bike would have given up a long long time ago with the kind of air we have here in Kathmandu. Just as you wear a mask to protect against the dust and smoke of the city, your bike should also have a reliable protection against them. Hence, more often you clean the filters, the better.
As a biker, you should have a habit of checking your tyres every now for worn out treads or high/low tyre pressure. The amount of air in your tyres really do affect your handling or the fuel consumption. If the tyre is under-inflated, then you will notice a drop in fuel efficiency. It may even overheat and fail. When the tyre is over-inflated, it will give less than optimal grip which may result in a bumpy ride. So, it is recommended to check your tyres every now and then. As every tyre will have different pressure rating, you should make sure to follow the recommended pressure levels for your tyres.
4) Chain and sprockets
Energy is transferred from the engine to the rear wheel through the chain. Thus keeping it in working condition is imperative. Lubricating the chains every now and then will reduce the wear and tear and prevent it from rusting. If it`s not lubricated, the excess heat will make the chains loose and make it more likely to slip off the sprockets. It could very well end up in an accident. So, make sure your mechanic adjusts your chain, and lubricate them with petroleum jelly or oil. But in case your bike doesn`t have a cover, it is recommended to use grease as it is not easily washed off.
5) Engines cooling system
Engines convert energy from burning fuels to mechanical energy for spinning the wheel. But not all energy is converted into mechanical energy. Quite a big chunk is converted into heat which gets dissipated by air cooler through the wind pushing against the bike. In case of liquid cooling, coolants which pass by the radiators to dissipate heat from the engine. If the engine is not cooled down, it will gradually lose power, and stall or freeze completely. So, it`s very important to check the fans and top up your coolants when needed.
When you take your bike in for servicing, the mechanic checks the brake lines to see if they are functioning properly. If your bike has drum brakes, it’s the brake shoes that wear out and have to be changed. If your bike has disc brakes, it’s the brake pads and the brake fluid that need to be examined. The brake fluid moves down the brake line when you pull the brake lever, which in turn pushes the brake pads to the rotor to stop or slow down the bike. A loss in the brake fluid level is an indicator of a leak or some other problem.
7) Carburetor and fuel injection
Carburetor/fuel injection system moderates the level of fuel flow into your engine. Carburetors have no mechanical ability to correct fuel mixtures, so if there is a leak, it will generate excessive heat that can damage your spark plug, increase fuel consumption and decrease engine life. In case of Fuel Injection used in modern bikes, an electronic system is used to alert the rider if there is such a problem. If you keep ignoring the check engine light, you may experience hard starting, misfires, or an engine that lacks power. The fuel injectors may also leak fuel. So, it is not necessary to tune card/FI at every servicing, but regular checking can ensure you won`t have to empty your pockets to look for new spare parts.
The heavy traffic and the pothole-filled roads will make you not take your hands off your clutch. But riding your bike with half clutch puts quite a lot of pressure on your clutch plate. Without a proper clutch lever free play, you might get clutch slip which will damage your clutch plate or it might get even harder to shift gears in the transmission. So, remind your mechanic to adjust the free play of your clutch either to the service manual specification or to your own preference if you know what you are doing so that you don`t ride your bike half-clutch.
Washing and cleaning the bike is also a part of maintaining your precious ride as it makes it easier to notice any missing or loose nuts and bolt. It helps get rid of grease stains and also helps keep corrosion at bay. If you see oil leaking or any debris on the inside parts, its time to clean and repair your fuel tank. As it not only help to discover any hidden rust and grime on the inside, it is a key to a bike which lasts long a time. So cleaning your bike every once in a while is not a bad idea.
The trick to a healthy and lasting bike is regular maintenance and personal care. You should love your bike as much as you would on your phone. Your duty lies in understanding the simple hints your bike gives you to find problems and address them as soon as possible. Remind your mechanics of any nuances you notice and do not let your bike be held together by rust and grime. Hands that touch your bike should care for it as much as you do. Don`t forget, motorcycle maintenance is an art in itself. Choose your artist wisely.