Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Mini Guide to Maintenance of Bikes

Many Two-Wheeler owners won’t be aware of the particulars of bike servicing and maintenance and may wonder if the mechanic was right in suggesting to replace some parts at particular usage. For new bikes, owner manuals are provided in which all details of the bike, maintenance schedules etc. are given. However, most of the time people would read it interestingly for half an hour or so and leave it – they may then check the manual while going for the free service offered by the authorized service center till a particular usage.

Later on, many bike owners start getting service done from local garages due to proximity and faster delivery. They will have to rely on the mechanic’s expertise in suggesting and replacing the parts. That leaves owners wondering whether the mechanic has cheated them or not.

In view of this, today I am writing down some brief tips on the maintenance of bikes and also probable time/KM of usage after which particular parts need to be replaced. To prevent the article from becoming very abstract, I am taking the example of the 106cc bike which I own, but the same can be applied similarly for other bikes.

During Pre-delivery
Before delivering the bike, the dealer will have to take care of all initial things like correct engine oil level, electrical status, tyre pressure, as well as accessories if any to be fitted. The owner’s manual is given for maintenance of service records which will be helpful for warranty claims. The new buyer should check the bike and make sure that all fluids are filled to the level.

I own a Yamaha Alba for which Yamaha motors gives a warranty of two years or 30000KM, whichever is earlier.

In the terms and conditions, which are fairly generic, it is mentioned that the warranty is applicable if the motorcycle proves to be defective due to material or workmanship from the manufacturer. Repairs would be done free of cost including labour charges and spares. However it’s mandatory to get all service done at authorized service center and keep record of the same, which it to be produced for claiming warranty.

Also there is a big list given mentioning parts which are not covered under warranty. This refers to replacement of wear and tear items like brake shoe, Fasteners/Shims/Washers, gaskets and rubber or plastic components (other than tire and tubes), oil seals, electrical wiring, bulbs, filters, sparkplugs, drive chain,sprocket, clutch plate, Race bearings, element air cleaner, wheel rim misalignment or bend.

It is also mentioned that bikes not serviced according to schedule and with an authorized service center would lose warranty.

First service – 500– 700 KM / one month
The first service of a two wheeler is done at 500 -700 KM or one month of usage. During this service, Engine oil is changed and water service is done. Though usage is still less, manufacturers recommend for a change of oil as chances of contamination of oil is more due to presence of small metal pieces in the tank during setting of new engine.

Second Service – 2,500 – 2,700 KM / 4 months
The second service is carried out between 2500 - 2700 KM and 3 months from first service. During this service clutch plates are changed along with changing oil. Apart from this chain lubrication and checking of all bolts and nuts are done.

Third service – 4,500 – 5,000 KM / 7 months
The third service is carried out at 4500-5000 KM and within 3 months from second service. This service will include change of oil and other fluids. Also, by now it is possible that the bike may have had some damage or banging during common usage, which may require replacement. For example, in my bike the rear seat foot rest edge was broken during a small accident and hence the same had to be replaced with new one as it is a molded part.

Fourth service – 6,500 – 7,000 KM / 9 months
The fourth service is carried out at 6500-7000 km or 2 months from date of third service. Here apart from change of oils, it is recommended to change the clutch plate, as with clutch riding the plates tend to wear out. That being said, the damage wasn’t too bad, and carried on with the same plate for now.

Fifth service – 8,500 – 9,000 KM / 11 months
The fifth service is carried out at 8,500- 9,000 km or 60 days from the date of the fourth service. At this point, the clutch plate change cannot be delayed and should be carried out.

Sixth service – 10,500 – 11,000 KM / 13 months
Sixth service is carried out at 10,500 to 11,000 km of usage or within 60 days from fifth service. During this service, again engine oil is replaced, but now there is a more thorough physical check, such as nuts and bolts, electrical check, battery water wash, etc. It is at this point that you will find your two-wheeler starting to age.

The End of Free Services
Yamaha provides 6 free services. This covers water wash and labour, and all others are chargeable. The period is scheduled to be done every 2,000 km once except for the first free service which is carried out at 500KM.

With the quality of engine and frequent service schedule, it is unlikely that you would encounter any serious wear and tear during these first six services. In fact, I have not claimed a single part under warranty during free service period.

After the free service period ends, most users will move on to get service from trusted local mechanics, which is convenient and cheaper for owners.

Also, at this point, one need not adhere to very stringent service intervals. However, servicing your bike every 2 months or 2,000 KM remains advisable.

Seventh Service
During the seventh service, apart from change of oils, the chain sprocket will need examination due to excessive chain slack.

Eighth Service
In the eighth service, you will need to look at the wheel infrastructure, apart from regular service, You will find that wheel bearings will need replacing to avoid excessive wobbling.

Ninth Service
Only service including change of oils and washing.

Tenth Service
At the tenth service, battery will also need attention, apart from the regular oil change. Also, the clutch plate would need to be looked at again.

After the 10 th Service
At every service – every 2,000 KM – you will need to change the oil.
Also, every five service you will need to change the clutch plate. The battery will need attention every ten services, while the chain sprocket needs to be looked at every 10,000 KM or so. The below table provides more detailed information on the same.

Sl NoItemOperation to be checked forPeriodApp Replace time
1ValvesCheck Valve clearance, adjust if necessaryEvery service 
2Spark PlugCheck condition,gap,adjust if necessaryEvery service 
3CarburetorCheck Idle speed, chocklever operationEvery service 
4Air filterinspect,clean/replace if necessaryEvery service 
5Fuel LinesCheck fuel hose for cracks,damages replace if necessaryEvery service 
6Fuel filterCheck for free flow of petrol,cleanliness of filter bowl,replace if necessaryEvery service 
7Engine OilReplace with recommended grade oil2000 km or as recommended
8Engine Oil filter screenWash with petrolEvery service 
9Brake front and rearCheck operation,adjust, grease brake camEvery service 
10Brake Shoe front and rearCheck for wear , replace if necessaryEvery service 
11ClutchCheck alignment marks on push lever and crank case LH and adjust if necessaryEvery servicewhevever excessive wearout is there
12Rear arm PivotCheck rear arm assembly for looseness,tighten with necessary torque  
13WheelsCheck runout,spoke tightness,damage ,replace if necessary  
14Wheel BearingCheck bearing assembly for looseness,damage, replace if necessary  
15Steering BearingCheck bearing assembly for looseness,damage, replace if necessary  
16Front forksCheck operation/oil leakage,repair/replace as required  
17Rear shock absorbersCheck operation/oil leakage,repair/replace as required  
18Drive ChainCheck chain slack,alignment,adjust if necessary,clean periodically and lubricate/replace 
19Nuts and boltsCheck all nuts and bolts for for looseness and tighten as recommended  
20Center stand and side standCheck operation,lubricate if necessary  
21BatteryCheck electrolyte level,top up if necessary,Check specific gravity and charge as required 
22Control cablesCheck operation of clutch,throttle,front brake cables, readjust or replace as required 
Till date my bike has run for almost 55,000 KM and it is still in good shape.

This being said, apart from the above regular issues, you will encounter flat tyres and accidents. Those need to be evaluated on ad-hoc basis.

I encountered one breakdown due to misfitting of clutch plates by mechanic. The bike came to an abrupt halt in middle of road and could not be even towed. It had to be lifted and taken to garage with the help of a tractor passing by. Later, it was discovered that one bolt was not tightened properly due to which gears got jammed. Clearly, such small parts of Rs 2/- can have a huge impact on your bike and your safety. Make sure that your mechanic is a good one and don’t rush him!

During early period of usage and with very frequent service, I was getting mileage of 58KMPL from my bike. However with prolonged usage and many maintenance repairs carried out etc. this has dropped to 50KMPL. Hence, while initially you will find mileage increasing, it will start reducing as it reaches a peak.

Though the above was written based on a single two wheeler, the aim is to provide information for readers regarding different stages of maintenance and servicing of a bike and probable breakdown problems that could come if workmanship is not so good. We welcome our readers to share experience with their cars/bikes. It will be even informative if maintenance carried out is also mentioned.

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