How Often Should I Get My Motorcycle Serviced?

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Owning and riding a motorcycle is a thrilling experience and there’s nothing quite like it. The maintenance on them is also pretty simple and basic compared to a car.

However, that doesn’t mean you should let the maintenance on your motorcycle be on the back burner. Your machine still has needs and it’s important you’re on top of getting it serviced.

How often should I get my motorcycle serviced? The frequency of servicing your motorcycle includes getting your oil changed as well as lubing and checking the tension on the chain every 4,000 miles or every six months (whichever comes first), checking the tire pressure every month, and tuning the carburetor and flushing the cooling system on water cooled engines every two years.

Obviously, there are a few other fixes and check-ups a motorcycle may require, but these things listed above are important to check routinely. Without doing so, you can have bigger problems down the road that may leave you stranded.

Getting Your Motorcycle Serviced

Owning a motorcycle is a perfect alternative for those who are thrifty and want minimal costs on their vehicle. And there are some out there who enjoy having the extra vehicle. Either way, a motorcycle needs it’s regular check-ups.

Unfortunately there is no one simple answer as to how often you should get your motorcycle serviced. Getting a motorcycle serviced entails several things and all of those things require different times when they need to be addressed. Doing things too often is just a waste of money and not doing some of the servicing frequently enough can cause damage to your bike.

When servicing your motorcycle, the first thing you should look at and consider is changing the oil. Almost every motorcycle owner knows this as a basic form of maintenance, but a lot of them don’t know how frequently they should do it. You just do it when the oil light comes on or when the engine starts burning oil, right? Wrong.

You should get the oil changed on your motorcycle every 4,000 miles or every six month, which ever comes first. It’s important you don’t wait longer on oil changes because any issue with the engine is something you don’t ever want to have to experience.

The next form of servicing your motorcycle is checking in on the chain. A lot of motorcyclists don’t realize that the chain does, in fact, require regular maintenance.

You should lube the motorcycle chain and check the tension of it every 4,000 miles or every six months, which ever comes first. This should be easy to remember because it has the same schedule as oil changes. You can simply plan on servicing both at the same time every time.

Don’t forget to check the tire pressure of your motorcycle every month. This is one I often forget to do myself, but neglecting the tires could be detrimental down the road (both literally and figuratively). Any time you take your motorcycle in to the shop, you can count that as your monthly tire pressure check because they usually already do that for you. If not, you can have them do it in addition to whatever fix your motorcycle is getting usually at no extra charge.

If you have a carburetor on your motorcycle, regular servicing and maintenance is required on that as well. I have been guilty of only paying attention to the carburetor when it started giving me problems. I quickly found that regular maintenance on it saved me a lot of time and money. You should get the carburetor tuned every two years. That shouldn’t be very difficult since it’s not that frequent of intervals for service.

If you have a water cooled engine, you need to get the cooling system flushed about every two years. You can do this while the carbs are getting tuned since their service intervals are the same. That should save you a little bit of time.

Can You Perform This Maintenance Yourself?

The next big question you may be asking is if you’re able to perform all of this maintenance yourself. Luckily you can do most of this yourself.

If you are willing to take a little bit of time to learn how to do these things (if you don’t already know how), you can become a pro in no time. Motorcycles are simple machines and working on them is much easier than working on cars.

If you watch a few YouTube videos, you’ll be able to do exactly what you need to in order to keep up with the servicing of your motorcycle. Changing the oil on your bike is usually pretty simple and you can look up videos specific your motorcycle about how to do it exactly.

There are also useful tools out there that can help you check and adjust the chain tension on your bike. You’ll need to look up the exact chain tension your motorcycle requires in your owner’s manual as each motorcycle is different. You’ll also notice that some motorcycles require you to check the chain while the motorcycle is either on the side stand or when the rear wheel is elevated.

Taking your motorcycle in the shop just to get the tire pressure checked is almost silly because it’s so easy to do yourself. It’s only a matter of 10 seconds (if that) for each tire. Your tires will be able to tell you what PSI your tires need to be at indicated on the side. If you don’t have an air compressor at home, a lot of gas stations will have one you can use for a few dollars.

Flushing the cooling system on a motorcycle is also very simple. All it really entails is taking out the drain bolt, letting the coolant drain, replacing the bolt and adding distilled water to the system, let the distilled water drain, replacing the bolt again and adding your new coolant. It’s an easy process and can usually be done within an hour.

One part of servicing your motorcycle I do not recommend you do yourself is tuning the carbs. That is something that should be left to the professionals who have special tools and will be able to do it right the first time.

Taking Your Motorcycle In The Shop vs. Doing It Yourself

There are some who prefer to leave all motorcycle servicing for the professionals while others want to be thrifty and do it themselves. So does doing regular service on your motorcycle really save you money? Let’s look at the breakdown of the costs.

Taking your motorcycle in to the shop for an oil change can cost anywhere between $50-$80. For some reason, it seems that motorcycle oil changes cost more than oil changes for a car. I have always been able to do my own oil changes around $30 which includes purchasing all the oil I need and getting a new oil filter.

The cost of basic chain maintenance for a motorcycle in a shop may cost anywhere between $50-$100. It’s a very simple task so you’ll probably only be paying for labor and a little bit of lube. But doing this yourself will only cost $6 for lube that should last you a year or two as well as a few sets of basic tools you probably already have laying around in your garage.

Again, taking your bike in just to get the tire pressure checked is just silly. That will only cost you a few dollars a month to do yourself (or it’s free if you have an air compressor). I’ve actually never heard of a shop doing just this on a motorcycle.

Getting your carburetor tuned will cost about $90 per carb. So this can be a bit pricey if you have several carbs, but remember that you only have to do this about every two years.

Flushing out the cooling system of your motorcycle will cost around $100-$150 if it’s done at a shop. You can do this yourself for around $20. About $5 for the distilled water and about $15 for the new coolant you put inside the motorcycle. That’s a lot better than $150!

What Happens If You Don’t Regularly Service Your Motorcycle?

There’s a lot that can happen to your motorcycle if you don’t perform regular service and maintenance. As annoying as maintenance can be, it’ll be a lot more annoying for you when you’re stuck with a preventable problem on your motorcycle.

Some people only stick with the mileage rule instead of the time rule when it comes to oil changes. Not very many people ride their motorcycles 4,000 miles within six months, so people wait until they reached the 4,000 miles even if that means it takes them a few years. Old oil can lose it’s lubrication properties over time and will be less effective lubricating your engine. Your engine could overheat or ultimately seize.

A too loose, too tight, or unlubricated chain gives your chain a higher risk of breaking. It is extremely dangerous if your chain breaks while you’re out riding because it can tangle up on the sprocket and bring you to an abrupt halt. It can also fling back and damage a vehicle behind you. Click here to see my article for more information about what happens when a motorcycle chain breaks.

The wrong tire pressure can either make your tire blow or flatten it which can cause significant damage to the rims. Lack of carburetor maintenance can often leave you stranded with a non-working bike. If your motorcycle is still running, a badly tuned carb can make your rides very uncomfortable due to sputtering.

And of course, the lack of a cooling system flush could mean sludge and deposits building up inside your cooling system. This can easily clog passageways which also means coolant isn’t getting to some parts of your engine thus your engine overheats. An overheated engine can cause it to smoke and ultimately seize.

Related Questions

Can a motorcycle use car engine oil? It is okay to temporarily use car engine oil in a motorcycle. It should not be used frequently. If car engine oil has been put in your motorcycle, your motorcycle oil should be changed sooner than the regular oil change intervals. Click here to see my article for more information.

What is considered high mileage on a motorcycle? High mileage for a motorcycle is anywhere between 50,000 – 60,000 miles. Mileage on a motorcycle is different compared to a car because of their sizes. However, motorcycles can still last a long time if you perform the right maintenance on them.

This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.

Kyle Cannon

Kyle currently works as a mechanical engineer and graduated with a minor in automotive engineering. He loves restoring motorcycles, has a vast knowledge of how they work, and has sold his restoration projects to customers from all over the United States.

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