A ‘tune-up’ is one of the most common terms that come up when talking about motorcycle maintenance—or just vehicle maintenance in general, for that matter. But for the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on motorcycle tune-ups.
Simply put, a motorcycle tune-up is an extensive maintenance/service session. It’s a thorough check done on a bike to see if any parts or fluids need cleaning or replacement, done about every 5,000km or so, or once every six months.
Like an oil change in a car, tune-ups can actually be done by bike owners themselves at home without having to call a mechanic—provided, of course, that they have sufficient know-how and the right tools for the job. Assuming you’ll be able to execute each one properly, performing tune-ups on your own can actually save you more money in the long run, as these are required to be done regularly, and the corresponding costs will add up quickly.
If you do have the skills and the equipment, and you want to give it a shot, then all you need to do next is simply take note of all the parts you should check when tuning up your bike. We’ll do a quick rundown on the said parts here, but we’ll only include the simplest ones that are easy to inspect and replace just to give you a proper start on your DIY maintenance goals. So, if you want to learn more, read on.
1) Engine oil and brake fluid
Fluids should actually be checked regularly, not just during tune-ups. That said, they don’t need to be changed often, so for the most part, replacement falls on the same schedule as the regular motorcycle tune-up. If it’s that time of the year for a tune-up, there’s a good chance that the bike’s fluids are up for changing as well.
2) Oil and air filters
In addition to the fluids, the filters must also be checked accordingly. Both filters are simple to remove, but the maintenance is a bit different. Oil filters likely need to be replaced during tune-ups, while air filters oftentimes only need cleaning.
3) Tires and wheels
A motorcycle tune-up also entails an incredibly detailed inspection of the bike’s tires and wheels in order to locate cracks on the rubber or significant damages to the wheels, if there are any. And in case no replacement needs to be made, the owner can keep track of the tread wear on the tires instead and get an idea of when (or after how many kilometers) you’ll have to eventually buy a new pair.
The chain is one of the fastest-wearing parts in a motorcycle. It needs to be lubricated or tightened often, and in this case, simple grease or a few tools can do the trick. Sometimes, when rust begins to form, the chain may need to be degreased and cleaned, after which lubricants need to be reapplied. Eventually, though, the chain will need to be replaced.
5) Brake pads
During a motorcycle tune-up, a closer look at the brake pads is necessary. It’s best to remove the calipers to see if the pads are already worn out or not. If so, they can be replaced. Rotors must also be inspected during a tune-up, although these have longer life spans than regular brake pads.
6) Bolts and nuts
Apart from the chain, certain bolts and nuts around the motorcycle may also need lubricating or cleaning. These aren’t located just underneath the bike—the bolts and nuts that need to be taken care of could also be above, such as on the handlebars.
Again, do note that these are just some of the most basic parts you can check when performing a motorcycle tune-up. Also, there are other instances wherein a motorcycle may need a proper tune-up outside of the recommended distance and time intervals. Here are some red flags: rough starts, rough idling, and backfiring.
In any case, bike owners must follow manufacturer recommendations to know how and when to tune up a certain motorcycle. If you want to go down this road, that’ll be the best advice you can follow.
If you need more motorcycle-related tips, you can also check out our other tip sheets: this one on buying a used motorbike, another one on getting aftermarket side mirrors. You can also check out this previous story on motorcycle helmet maintenance.