Caring for Your Motorcycle
by Pat Goss
Although motorcycles have changed dramatically over the years, preventive maintenance is still critical. And here to give us some tips in Lyndon Abell, general manager of Patriot Harley-Davidson in Fairfax, Virginia. Welcome to the show.
LYNDON ABELL: Thank you.
GOSS: All right what’s the most overlooked part of a motorcycle?
ABELL: Without question, it’s tire pressure. Your motorcycle rides on two small contact patches of rubber. Make sure that you keep your tires properly inflated. Use a good gauge and make sure your specs are right for your tires.
GOSS: And speaking of specs, if you’re going to do anything at all on your motorcycle, isn’t a factory service manual an ideal companion?
ABELL: Absolutely. You should only use a factory service manual. Make sure it’s correct; not only for your model but for your year as changes occur.
GOSS: And oil changes are crucial on automobiles, motorcycles are the same.
GOSS: What about the oil themselves.
ABELL: Harley recommends 20/50 for their motorcycles. They have a fossil and a synthetic. Most people these days seem to be using synthetic for their newer bikes. But if you have an older model and you have been using fossil, you might want to go ahead and stick with it. Fossil is perfectly appropriate for the new models as well if you prefer.
GOSS: And oil filters, most motorcycles these days do have oil filters. And we have two sitting here. They look identical but they are not.
ABELL: But they are not. They would fit, they would interchange, but the internal media is different. Additionally if you are using an off-brand filter, you might find that the bypass valve was different and that could lead to disaster.
GOSS: Oil filter wrench. That’s our old standby but, late model Harleys in particular, you may want to use this.
ABELL: Right. This has a little cut out to keep from hitting the crank position sensor. Which makes the job easier and also could save you a crank position sensor.
GOSS: Yeah, a little pricey. Always use the proper oil filter wrench. Okay transmission needs to be serviced.
ABELL: The new recommendation is about every 10,000 miles - the ‘07s have gone to 20,000. I would recommend you do it more regularly and use the proper fluid, of course.
GOSS: All right, and fork oil.
ABELL: Current recommendation is every 20,000 miles. That’s probably appropriate if you are doing 5-10,000 miles a year. If you ride less, you may want to consider doing it on an every four-year schedule.
GOSS: All right, and brake fluid. That’s something that seems to be really overlooked.
ABELL: Sure. That’s probably the second-most overlooked. I would change the brake fluid every year, certainly every two years. Condensation and humidity and certain environments lead up to a build up of moisture in the brake system. And you don’t want to mess around with your brake system.
GOSS: Okay and some motorcycles may still have bearings that need to be packed and serviced.
ABELL: Right. If you are using conventional bearing on neck bearing or wheels, they should be inspected at the appropriate intervals and cleaned if you have to replace them. Replace the race and bearing as a set. Repack with the proper grease for that application and always use new seals if required.
GOSS: Okay, for more information on this: the local dealer, or your owner’s manual, or the service manual.
GOSS: Okay, Lyndon, thank you.
ABELL: Thank you.
If you have a question or comment, write to me.
The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.