Motor Maintenance On The Street

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Motorcyclists should be able to do at least baisic maintenance on their bikes. Learn how to change your oil, check and lubricate your bike's chain, ensure that your tires are inflated properly, and check your fluid levels, and you'll ride with the confidence of knowing that your bike will run reliably.


Your carburetors are basically responsible for mixing gas with air at the right precise ratio. This ratio varies as you "lay on the gas". When the pistons in the engine go down, the intake valves open open up (in 4-cycle engines) and allow the piston to suck air through the carbs from the air filter or filter box. Carbs vary a bit by how they are designed...some have two jets (most older and more basic carbs) and some have 3.

If your bike has an inspection window, check that the oil level is between the MAX and MIN markings. Change the engine oil every 3000-5000 miles and use good oil. There are people who say that synthetic oil causes clutch slipage. In my experience, if your clutch is slipping with synthetic something is wrong with the clutch. Do not park your pride and joy in the pouring rain. One reason for this is that the rain water may infiltrate your fuel tank via your fuel cap and contaminate your fuel.

Check the electrolyte level often and keep it filled. Use only distilled water, NOT tap water. Tap water has minerals in it that will not do the battery any good. Some bikes have charging systems that chronicaly over charge the battery.