I know, staying in has been a little tough for some of us riders out there. Maybe it’s your daily mode of transportation, perhaps you want to take it to your local motorcycle shop, or you simply just want to head out for a ride and hit the open road. But in an event where we’re all on serious lockdown mode because of the pandemic, you might be thinking that you and your motorcycle won’t have much to do together for the time being.
But it is not entirely true, as riding your motorcycle isn’t the only thing you can do to be with your machine; we’re just going to have to get a little creative. So without further ado, here’s a quick rundown on the things you can do to maintain your motorbike while you’re stuck at home.
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Start your bike regularly
Although modern bikes today require little maintenance, it’s still a safe practice to start your bike at least once a week if you’re storing it for now. If you haven’t been doing this, don’t worry about it so much. Motorcycle owners who have older model bikes, however, might need to exercise this preventive measure more.
Remember, gas is a volatile substance that has deposits that can potentially clog up your fuel delivery system if left idle for extended periods. So if you leave it out for too long, you might run into some issues. Also, don’t store your motorbike under the sun as much as possible. It’ll evaporate your gas at a faster rate and slowly ruin your paint job. If you don’t have a shaded space for your ride, at least put a motorcycle cover on it. And if you don’t have that, placing a deconstructed cardboard box or anything similar will do.
Try Dish-Washing Soap or Shampoo
If you’re itching to wash your two-wheeler, but you’re out of motorcycle or car shampoo, you can temporarily substitute these with household items such as dish-washing soap or regular shampoo. Some might call me out on this one because non-automotive soaps such as dish-washing liquid or detergent usually contain abrasive elements and chemicals that help remove grease. This can potentially ruin your paint job if you frequently use it to wash your bike. But if you have no choice, it’s not a bad solution for the time being. Just make sure to use the least abrasive soap you can find at home.
It’s best to use a microfiber cloth accompanied with warm water so that it can help dissolve and minimize some of those abrasive materials. But before you start scrubbing, make sure to cool down the engine and wash out your bike first with running water to remove any dust and debris that’s stuck to your motorcycle. After washing it, be sure to dry everything out to avoid soap stains and watermarks.
Clean your chain
When you get a chance, you should check on your motorcycle chain as well to see if it needs any maintenance or not. If it’s clean, you’re in luck. If it’s dirty, you’re still in luck! Because if you currently don’t own a chain cleaner, you can get away with cleaning that greasy thing by using just a toothbrush and some of that household soap we mentioned above. If you have a degreaser solvent such as WD-40, that should work better. Start by brushing out the links with soap and warm water. Once it’s all cleaned up with no gunk, wipe the chain with a rag and wait for it to dry. After this, you’re going to want to re-lubricate the links to prevent the rollers from wearing out.
Belt-driven motorbikes usually found in scooters don’t benefit from this. You’re going to have to go and replace the belt instead. Unless you know how to open up the case and have a replacement on-hand, the best that you can do is wait until you have the chance to visit your local motorcycle shop.
Clean your engine
While you’re at it, you can give a similar treatment to your engine with what you did to your motorcycle chain. Just a toothbrush, degreaser, and some household soap can help get rid of dirt and grime that usually stick due to consistent use. There are different parts of the engine that you can cleanout.
For starters, if your motorbike is air-cooled, you can clean your air fins and get in between those narrow slits. If not, I’m sure there are still a lot of places to cover like the crankcase or engine head. Remember to cool the engine before working on it so that it doesn’t go into ‘thermal-shock’ and, more importantly, so you don’t end up accidentally burning yourself. Leaving soap to dry can potentially leave an unwanted mark on your bike, so generously wash with water after to prevent this from happening. After everything is cleaned out, you can even polish your bike, provided you have a polisher and a compound, of course.
Check your battery levels
Storing your motorbike will inevitably discharge your battery due to water vapor evaporating. Batteries steadily lose their charge with each use. The average motorcycle battery will die after 2 – 4 months without running, but if you’ve had that battery on for a while, you might want to check on your electrolyte levels. And although water-vapor takes a while to evaporate, if you don’t have enough fluid in your battery, you might risk exposing the battery’s lead plates to the air, causing them to oxidize and sulfate.
Asides from that, certain conditions can speed up that process, such as high ambient temperatures and a hot engine. If you experience these problems even if your bike hasn’t been exposed to hot environments for a while, you might want to check if your electrical system is malfunctioning.
If you’re running on a lead-acid battery, carefully fill each cell with distilled water. Distilled water is free of impurities, unlike tap water, which has metal ions that react with the battery’s acid. Maintenance-free batteries are come sealed for life from the factory and do not require maintenance of electrolyte levels.
Contrary to what we often hear, starting your bike and leaving it idle will only drain your battery more. But if you must, you can rev it up to speed the battery charge, although driving it instead would be much easier. If you want to prolong your battery life, consider using a trickle charger. Trickle charges use battery regulators to regulate the charging rate and prevent overcharging. They charge your vehicle’s battery at a similar pace at which it self-discharges to maintain full battery capacity.
So the next time you find some free time at home, maybe you can take the chance to check out your motorcycle and see if she needs some maintenance. And when the opportunity comes along to take that two-wheeler out, at least you’re assured of having a hassle-free ride that won’t only keep the bike happy, but the driver as well.