Motorcycle Servicing – What You Need To Know

motorbike mechanic
Author: 

So you’ve bought a beautiful motorcycle, and you want to keep it looking – and more importantly, running – its best.

The most effective way to keep your motorbike in tip-top condition is with regular servicing.

Note: Unlike insurance, tax and the correct license. It’s not a legal requirement to have your motorcycle serviced.

 

Why service your bike?

Firstly, it will give you great peace of mind. Your motorcycle is essentially a seat that can travel at incredibly high speeds, the last thing you need is something breaking off, coming loose or springing a leak at motorway speed.

It will extend the life of your motorcycle, and keeping the oil regularly changed and everything ship-shape will make sure it’s performing to its full potential, every time you hit the road.

 

Does the service have to be done by an expert?

Service mechanics will have an eagle eye for any loose seals, bolts that need tightening or cracks in rubber. They’ll be able to tell at a glance whether some O-rings are splitting in your chain, and if your clutch cable is showing signs of wear.

From a safety perspective a regular service schedule, staggered with your MOT, should make sure that experts are looking at your bike every six months or so.

Safety is paramount when it comes to motorcycling.

As well as having professionals look over your wheels every six months or so, make sure to complete regular eyeball inspections yourself of things like the tyres, levers, pedals and bolted-on pieces of fairing or mudguards.

 

Can a motorcycle service save you money?

A full service history will ensure you can sell your bike for top dollar as and when you decide to.

You’ll have probably pondered the question of “how much mileage is too much?” when considering a motorbike purchase. The short answer is, a bike with 25,000 miles that’s been serviced regularly, will probably do you much better than one with 10,000 miles that’s never had so much as its chain cleaned.

If you can produce a service book with annual stamps, it will reassure the prospective buyer that you’re someone who is conscientious and has done their best to make sure the bike has had the best life possible.

Similarly, it’s something you should be looking for from anybody you may look to buy a bike from.

 

How often should a motorbike be serviced?

Broadly, motorcycles benefit from servicing once a year, or when they reach certain mileage milestones. Each bike will be different, and your owner’s manual should tell you what your specific intervals are. But after your bike is fully run-in, an annual service should suffice.

You can complete basic maintenance yourself – such as topping up or changing the oil, checking and changing the battery, and making sure your chain is tightened, on a week-to-week basis.

But for a full service, it’s advised to let professionals handle the job.

This also depends on how often you ride. If you’re a weekend warrior who only brings their bike out once every few weeks in summer, your routine maintenance won’t need to be as intensive as a year-round commuter, whose battery will be battling freezing temperatures in January with a chain putting up with 52 weeks of grit, salt and rain spray.

If you’re someone whose bike regularly runs super-hot at track days, or you push it to its limits regularly, your oil may need changing more often, as well as tyres and brake pads.

 

What does a motorcycle service include?

There are different levels of a service your bike may need. These are often categorised as follows:

Interim

Annual

Major

Full

Every service will include vital maintenance like inspection of bulbs, clutch play, bearings, spark plugs, general nuts and bolts, suspension, exhaust, a change of oil and filters, as well as a look at coolant and brake or clutch fluid (where necessary).

 

What will an interim service generally include?

An interim service is the most basic kind. It will cover off lots of minor points, but won’t get too deep into the guts of the bike.

Interim

 

  • Road test
  • Bulb inspection
  • Throttle inspection
  • Clutch inspection
  • Chain and sprockets inspection
  • Tyre inspection
  • Wheel bearings inspection
  • Battery inspection
  • Brake pads/callipers/discs inspection
  • Suspension inspection
  • Exhaust inspection
  • Control cable inspection
  • Steering head bearings inspection
  • Oil and filter change
  • Coolant inspection
  • Brake and clutch fluid inspection

 

What will an annual service generally include?

The annual service is what you should go for if you feel your bike really needs some attention. It covers everything in the interim, but usually adds a spark plug change.

Annual

 

  • Road test
  • Bulb inspection
  • Throttle inspection
  • Clutch inspection
  • Chain and sprockets inspection
  • Tyre inspection
  • Wheel bearings inspection
  • Battery inspection
  • Brake pads/callipers/discs inspection
  • Suspension inspection
  • Exhaust inspection
  • Control cable inspection
  • Steering head bearings inspection
  • Oil and filter change
  • Coolant inspection
  • Brake and clutch fluid inspection
  • Air filter inspection
  • Spark plug replacement

 

What will a major service generally include?

The major service will take care of almost all potential issues, as well as looking back over the bike’s history to make sure nothing is in danger of re-faulting if it’s gone wrong before.

Major

 

  • Road test
  • Bulb inspection
  • Throttle inspection
  • Clutch inspection
  • Chain and sprockets inspection
  • Tyre inspection
  • Wheel bearings inspection
  • Battery inspection
  • Brake pads/callipers/discs inspection
  • Suspension inspection
  • Exhaust inspection
  • Control cable inspection
  • Steering head bearings inspection
  • Oil and filter change
  • Coolant replacement
  • Brake and clutch fluid replacement
  • Air filter replacement
  • Spark plug replacement
  • Valve clearance check
  • Carburettor or throttle body balance adjustment
  • Detailed fault history check, clear and reset

 

What will a full service generally include?

A full service replaces almost every kind of oil or fluid to fresh and new, as well as a really detailed examination from front to back.

Full

 

  • Road test
  • Bulb inspection
  • Throttle inspection
  • Clutch inspection
  • Chain and sprockets inspection
  • Tyre inspection
  • Wheel bearings inspection
  • Battery inspection
  • Brake pads/callipers/discs inspection
  • Suspension inspection
  • Exhaust inspection
  • Control cable inspection
  • Steering head bearings strip, clean and grease
  • Rear suspension linkage strip, clean and grease
  • Oil and filter change
  • Coolant replacement
  • Brake and clutch fluid replacement
  • Air filter replacement
  • Spark plug replacement
  • Valve clearance check
  • Carburettor or throttle body balance adjustment
  • Detailed fault history check, clear and reset
  • Fork oil replacement

If you’ve kept your bike in good condition, and had it serviced most years, then an interim service will generally be enough to keep you on the road and shiny side up.

After leaving a bike sitting for several months or more, or if you’ve purchased a bike that has a spotty service history – or none at all – you may want to upgrade to a more comprehensive service.

 

How much does a motorcycle service cost?

This again largely depends on your bike. My Moto Guzzi V7II, for example, isn’t something that every garage has the expertise to work on. It also requires specific kinds of oil that aren’t cost effective to keep in small quantities, so I’m somewhat at the mercy of garages who are able to complete the service.

However, in general you can expect to pay around £125 for a basic motorcycle service, with prices reaching up as high as £750 for a fully comprehensive service on a rare or unusual bike.

Motorbikes with a 125cc engine or lower are substantially less, and if you have a fairly common bike like a Suzuki SV650, with readily available parts and lots of local knowledge, you’d be looking to spend between £125-£550 in total, depending on the level of service you need.

 

How long does a motorcycle service take?

Usually, all work can be completed in one day – many garages offer weekend or Saturday servicing, so if you use your bike as a primary vehicle during the week you won’t be left without it too long.

If it’s a full service, or the mechanic finds something that needs urgent repair, they may wish to hold onto it for a few days.

Some garages also offer courtesy bikes if you’re going to be without yours over a time that you need it.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion – service your motorbike. Even if it’s an interim service, having a professional set of eyes on it once or twice a year can be nothing but good for you and your bike.