Beginner Rider Tips

Why doesn’t my bike start?

How do I know if my bike is running out of fuel?

How to properly fill gas in a motorcycle

Proper tire maintenance

Checking fork seals

When should I change my brake pads?

Chain lubrication and slack adjustment

Getting acquainted with your new bike

How to winterize a carbureted bike

If your bike will not start, begin troubleshooting by checking if your key is in the ignition and set to the on position.  After the key is set to “on” verify the engine kill-switch is in the run position.  All bike manufacturers place the engine kill-switch on the right-hand controls located on the handlebars.  Ensure the switch is set to the run position and the clutch lever is pulled in before attempting to start the engine, if this does not work let the clutch lever out with the bike in neutral and try starting the engine again.  A loosely connected clutch sensor will prevent the engine from starting.  Verify the clutch sensor is securely connected if the engine will not start.  Lastly, most bikes have a kickstand sensor that will prevent the engine from starting if the kickstand is in the extended position and the bike is in gear.  Make sure your kickstand is tucked away fully and the bike is in neutral before trying to start the engine.

If your bike will not start after you have completed all of the above steps, your bike may have a dead battery.  Motorcycle batteries can drain very fast if the headlights are left on. Make sure to always turn off your bike by switching the key to the “off” position.  Leaving the bike in “park” mode will also leave the tail light on and drain your battery.  When your motorcycle’s engine is not running, be sure to switch your key to the “off” position to prevent battery drain.

How do I know if my bike is running out fuel?

The first indication of your bike starving for fuel is a noticeable loss of power while riding.  Carbureted motorcycles have a fuel petcock with a “reserve” position designed to be used when fuel gets low.  Turning the fuel petcock to the “reserve” position will return fuel flow to normal with the remaining gas left in the tank.  Even if you can still see still gas in the tank, the fuel level may be below the level of the “on” position preventing proper fuel flow.  If you feel a loss of power in your bike, check to see if fuel is low and switch to the “reserve” position until you are able to fill the gas tank.  Always remember to switch your petcock back the “on” or “run” position after filling the tank.

How to properly put gas in a motorcycle

Always switch off your motorcycle’s ignition and rest the bike on the kickstand or center-stand before attempting to put gas in the tank.  It is a good idea to remove your helmet while pumping gas so you can listen easily for the fuel level rising in the gas tank as you fill it.  If you are filling the tank all the way, remember you should not try to fill the tank to the brim.  A motorcycle gas tank is easily exposed sunlight which will heat up the fuel inside, causing it to expand.  Fuel pump nozzles have a safety shutoff valve that will prevent overflow when fuel gets too close to the top of the tank.  When you put the fuel nozzle into the gas tank opening, push down until you hear a click then pull back slightly and fill slowly being careful to leave an inch or so of room left between the fuel level and the top of the tank.

Proper tire maintenance

Regular inspection of your tire pressure and overall condition is extremely important.  A simple, easy visual inspection of a bike’s front and rear tires should be done regularly.  Cracking in a tire is usually caused by under or over inflation which stresses the rubber.  Stress cracked tires are not safe to ride on and should be replaced.  Tires should be checked for proper inflation every 3 months with an accurate tire gauge.  Improperly inflated tires will wear unevenly, cause poor handling, and need to be replaced more often.  Always check tire pressure when the tire is cold for the most accurate reading.

Checking fork seals

Regular motorcycle maintenance should include inspecting your bike’s fork seals for any leaks.  Leaking fork seals with result in fork oil leaking on the brake rotors leading to loss of braking power.  If you notice oil leaking from the fork seals, have them replaced immediately.

When should I change my brake pads?

Among the most important equipment on your motorcycle are the brakes.  Squeaking brakes are an indication that your brake pads need to be changed soon.  Worn out brake pads result in unsafe braking performance and can cause damage to your brake rotors.  Front and rear brake pads do not always need to be replaced at the same time, since a motorcycle primarily relies on the front brakes, they will wear out faster.  If you are hearing squeaking as you come to a stop, inspect them, and if needed, replace your front brakes with fresh pads.

Chain lubrication and slack adjustment

Checking your motorcycle’s chain should be part of your regular inspection and maintenance.  Chains need to be lubricated and adjusted to operate properly.  Check your bike’s chain monthly depending on the weather conditions you ride in to ensure the chain is adequately lubricated and has the correct amount of slack.  As a chain is used, it will stretch and will need to be adjusted.  Chain slack should be set to one inch of play to properly function.  When setting chain slack, remember to check the tension after you have fully tightened down the rear axle, as chain tension will increase after it is fully tightened. Once you have set the chain slack to one inch, rotate the rear wheel slowly while checking the chain tension to ensure there are no tight spots.  If the chain has proper slack in one spot but is too tight or loose in another spot, it means your chain is kinked and must be replaced.

Getting acquainted with your new bike

The perfect place to get familiar with your new motorcycle is an open parking lot.  Begin by trying to get the bike rolling without using any throttle.  Slowly let the clutch out until you feel the bike begins to move, then pull the clutch back in and come to a stop.  Repeat this process until you are able to confidently feel the clutch friction point and getting the bike rolling without using the throttle.  Being able to control your clutch properly will make your standing starts and downshifts smoother and safer.

How to winterize a carbureted bike

If you are planning to store your bike for months without use, the first step is to switch the petcock to the “off” position and run the bike until the engine stops.  This will ensure there is no gas left in the carburetor bowls.  Your motorcycle’s battery will discharge even while not in use and may become dead by the time you are ready to start the bike again.  Be sure to hook up a battery tender that is intended for a motorcycle battery to preserve the life of the battery while being stored.  When you are ready to run the bike again, switch the petcock to the “on” position and start the engine.  Do not store your bike without fuel in the tank as the inside will rust and you will need to replace the gas tank.

Additional Questions?

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