Anyone can look after a motorcycle. Here’s how and why you should at least learn the basics.

Riding a bike is a much more involving experience than driving a car. When your motorcycle tyres lose pressure, you feel the difference in the steering, when the chain gets slack, your gearchange feels sloppy, when the bearings in your steering are worn you’ll feel the clumsiness in corners. So keeping on top of your bike is all the more important because the better you look after it, the better it will be to ride and the safer it will be too.

Fortunately, motorbikes are very simple to maintain. Checking the oil, brakes and tyres, adjusting the chain and making sure it is safe takes no more than half an hour. And the best thing to do is incorporate it into a weekly clean, because it’s while you’re scrubbing away at the engine, exhaust, wheels and bodywork that you’ll also notice any other discrepancies or changes since the previous week.

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Checking the tyres

There are two things to check here. Firstly the pressures. Motorbikes are sensitive to tyre pressures. Once they drop a few psi you’ll find the bike feels heavy to steer and imprecise in corners. Most modern tyres, fitted properly, wi 11 take a month or two to lose enough pressure that you’d notice, but it’s still worth a weekly check because if they’ve dropped significantly in a week you know there’s a problem somewhere.

Recommended pressures are for tyres when cold so always check tyre pressures before a ride because they heat up as you ride and the pressures increase. The other thing to do is spin the wheels and have a look for debris in the tyres. Screws and nails can get into the rubber without puncturing the carcass. Leave them there and eventually they will go through (usually in the fast lane of the M25 on a wet and miserable November evening). If you spot anything, pull it out and listen for a hissing noise. If in doubt rub some washing up liquid over the area and watch for bubbles. If you see any, the tyre is punctured and needs repairing.

Some motorcycle tyres (usually on spoked wheels) still use inner tubes like your bicycle. These have a tendency to lose pressure faster.

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