Part of owning a finely crafted piece of machinery like a motorcycle is taking care of it. We all love our bikes, no matter what style, price range, or how long we’ve had it- that’s our noble steed! You don’t have to be a DIY mechanic to take care of your ride (although many of us are).
However you decide to take care of your motorcycle, it’s important to know the basics of bike maintenance. That’s why we’ve compiled tips on cheap motorcycle repair, motorcycle repair shop tips, and ways to make sure you’re spending as much time as possible actually riding.
TCLOCK General Repair and Maintenance
Before you decide how you are going to take care of your bike, you need to know what you are looking for. Here’s a quick checklist of common motorcycle maintenance items so you can ride stress-free:
- Pre-trip: This is a term used by truckers, but it applies to motorcycles as well. Basically, walk around and take a look at your bike- create a visual of what each part looks like, and if anything is abnormal, check it out. Look for leaks, cracks, stains, and test your moving parts. It sounds like a lot, and you don’t have to do it every time you ride, but having a routine pre-checkup will help your bike health greatly.
- Tires/Wheels: These are the foundation of your ride; your life literally depends on their stability. Understanding the wear patterns of your tires will help you understand any bigger maintenance issues, but the simple stuff is pretty obvious. Look for cracks, rot, oxidation, and any other blemishes that stand out. Tires do have an expiration date, but if you are riding regularly, you probably won’t encounter that as a problem.
- Brakes: Get your tires up in the air, rotate your wheels, and check those brake pads! Check for warping, any sort of surface damage, and how much is left on the pads. Don’t run your brakes down too low- these are the last things you should be stingy about, as they’ll save your neck when they’re good, but can be dangerous when bad.
- Fluids/Filters: Like brakes, these need to be checked based on time, mileage, and a general concern for your well-being. Coolant can be done every other season, but make sure to stay on top of your oil, transmission fluids, and primary fluids. A lack of these can damage your engine, so it’s smart to get ahead of the curve on replacing them.
- Controls: These will vary bike-to-bike, but you will want to start by checking the clutch and throttle for proper operation. Additionally, make sure your handlebars still turn properly, your mirrors are on tight, and that your pedals and shifters are in the correct position. Basically, you want to feel the same level of comfort each time you ride, and if these are out of place, you can be thrown off.
*What is T-CLOCK? T-CLOCK is an acronym riders can use to help them remember the inspection list below:
T – Tires
C – Controls
L – Lights
O – Oils
C – Chassis and chain
K – Kickstand
You can establish a feel for your bike much easier if you understand each individual part that can likely cause problems. Fixing parts at an appropriate time will prevent compounding negative effects from ill-timed breakdowns or extra stress on other components of a motorcycle. This can save you from having to put your bike in the shop, save you money, and keep you safe out on the road.
Basic Motorcycle Repair
For many motorcycle enthusiasts, the tinkering element provides just as much fun as riding. This almost never comes naturally; it comes with experience and a dedication to learning how to repair your bike.
If you want to learn how to fix a motorcycle, we recommend first learning everything you can about your specific bike via motorcycle manuals, YouTube videos, and bike forums. For better motorcycle repair skills, you can even take a motorcycle maintenance class. Once you start to get the hang of general maintenance, it should become intuitive how to fix small problems that pop up here and there.
It’s a great way to do cheap motorcycle repair, but let’s be honest- it’s also extremely rewarding to know you are proficient at taking care of your bike.
Motorcycle Repair Shops
If you aren’t an avid at-home mechanic, you’re going to have to turn to the professionals for help. This is not a bad thing by any means, but we recommend familiarizing yourself with best-practices for mechanics as well as the specific needs of your motorcycle. The stereotype that dealerships or mechanics will rip you off isn’t true, but the chance goes down significantly the more you know about bike upkeep.
Before you make a commitment to have a mechanic work on your bike, we recommend looking for the following things in a repair shop:
- Certifications: Because motorcycles are such a diverse classification of automobile, there are many certifications that mechanics need. Bike styles, engine types, and all sorts of things come into play to get this. Read up on the ones that specifically affect your bike.
- Experience: Motorcycle care is both an art and a science, and it requires experience even for newer machines. While we don’t want to fully exclude newer shops and mechanics, we believe that shops, techs, and mechanics with experience yield better results
- Reputation: Whether it is from the locals, a riding club, or online reviews, be sure to see what other riders are saying about the shop. . The customer experience plays a role in whether you should be going to a shop, as well. Take things into account like shop security and the integrity of their offers. And always get a written guarantee.
On top of these, when you go to a shop, we recommend having a clear diagnosis and solution in mind. You may not be a savvy mechanic, or your hunch might not be correct, but if you can narrow down your need, it will be an easier conversation between you and the mechanic. That being said, you’re visiting their business for a reason; hear them out and have a two-way dialogue.
Mobile Repair Shops
A great alternative to taking your bike in to a mechanic is utilizing a mobile repair for your motorcycle. These can save time, and they can usually get to you in the event of an emergency. They also typically provide comparable professional work at cheaper prices. If your bike is actually broken down, towing it is often difficult without the proper equipment – another reason to use a mobile tech.
This doesn’t mean a mobile repair shop is always the option. They are typically less-established, might not be able to perform as thorough of diagnostics, and most highly experienced mechanics will have a full service shop. We recommend using a mobile repair shop with great reviews and one that can promise comparable quality to a mechanic shop near you.
Many motorcycle brands have nuances that you might not trust a general mechanic shop to understand. Some bikes have intricate engineering or electrical systems, such as a high end Kawasaki or Harley-Davidson. At Law Tigers, we know if our Harley riders aren’t taking care of their bike at home, they’re looking for a specific Harley-Davidson motorcycle repair shop near them.
Ultimately, you’re going to have to decide whether doing the work at home, going to a mechanic shop as an intermediary, or going to a trusted specialist is best for your specific bike. There’s not a right or wrong answer, but the more you know about motorcycle repair, the better your experience will be.
Law Tigers Has Your Back
At Law Tigers, we’re proud to be active members of our local motorcycle communities. This means we are happy to act as a resource to help people find the maintenance repair options best suited for their personal situation. It also means we have riders’ backs. With Law Tigers, you never ride alone.
Request our free rider benefit card to get access to immediate benefits like a toll-free 24 hour accident hotline, free legal advice for all motorcycle riding matters, a $10,000 motorcycle theft reward and more.