Harley-Davidson® ownership comes with a lot of perks. There’s the recognition of freedom and power that’s more akin to wild west horse riding rather than the daily car commute to an office. But with power comes responsibility, and if you want to keep your Harley® running, you’ll need to be on top of its upkeep. Keeping up with motorcycle maintenance will give you the reassurance that your investment is taken care of and will be ready to hit the road whenever you want.
At American Harley-Davidson® we strive to earn and appreciate your business while providing the best customer service possible. Since your satisfaction is our #1 priority, we’ve put together this short guide to motorcycle maintenance.
If you have more questions about how to keep your bike running for years to come, or if you’re just looking for the best in new and pre-owned Harleys®, head to our dealership in North Tonawanda, New York.
Chains, Shafts, and Belts
An engine transfers power to various components with a series of chains, shafts, and belts, all of which should be lubricated and in good repair. If your bike’s rear wheel is chain-driven, make sure to regularly spray it with lubricant. Belt-driven wheels should be inspected to make sure there’s no tearing or fraying. And keep everything balanced in tightness, as a too-tight belt will strain the material and a loose belt has the potential of coming loose.
Check brake fluid for each wheel and make sure the levels are correct. Top off the fluid if they are low. The brake pads should be wearing evenly. Don’t wait until they’re completely worn down to replace them! Any squeaking, grinding, or pulsating could mean something is wrong and you should take your bike into the shop.
It’s critical both tires are kept in good condition, as they’re the pivotal juncture between road and motorcycle. A blown tire will almost certainly lead to a wreck on a bike, and riders don’t have the same protections as car and truck drivers. Make sure you have an air pressure gauge so you can keep track of how inflated your tires are.
Check the tread for wear as well. You’ll want even wear on both tires, and having one with more worn treads could mean a riding imbalance; at the very least, it could indicate it’s time for a replacement! Bald spots, tear, and scalping are more signs of damaged tires. Finally, check the treads for any foreign objects that might have gotten stuck in there. While a nail or hunk of glass might get stuck rather than puncture the tire, that doesn’t mean it can’t work its way loose and do damage later on.
A clogged fuel filter can drain power from the battery very quickly. Replace the fuel filter when you hear sputtering or have a hard time starting the engine. If you don’t ride too often, make sure to use a higher octane fuel. Ethanol-heavy fuels can thicken into a corrosive sludge if left for too long. A fuel stabilizer will also work if you plan on storing your bike for a longer period of time.
Regularly check the oil to make sure the levels and viscosity are acceptable. Remove the dipstick, clean it off, reinsert it, and then note the oil level. If the level is low but in good condition, add a little more until you level it off. If the oil is too dark or sludgy, replace the oil and filter altogether. And if the oil has metallic shavings or powder in it, it’s time to visit a mechanic because something in your engine is grinding the material in there.
This is the first place to look if your bike isn’t starting. A drained battery can be recharged, but if that doesn’t work it will need replacement. If this leads to another drained battery, then something more serious is wrong (most likely the alternator). For storing your bike, remove the leads from the posts so the battery won’t drain. Check the posts for corrosion. If there is some, you can apply a solution of baking soda and water with a toothbrush. This will remove corrosion, but an older battery might need to be replaced anyway, even if the posts clean up nicely.
With these elements added to your motorcycle maintenance routine, you’ll have smooth rides and a long-lived bike. Got more questions on motorcycle maintenance? Head to American Harley-Davidson®, where we have the best parts and service in Western New York. Stop by our location in North Tonawanda near Buffalo, New York. We’re proud to serve Lockport, Niagara Falls, Batavia, and Rochester, New York.