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Maintenance Tips

All Fluids

Coolants 1

2-Stroke Oils 1

Motorcycle oils and additives 1

New Batteries 1 : this applies to car batteries too

Charging Batteries 1

Engine flushing

All Fluids

Everything expands as it heats up, it's one of the laws of physics.
Just because a bit is good, doesn't mean lots is better. For example, as the oil expands where's it going to go ?, I don't know but the rear tyre's behind it.

But more importantly, how many times have you seen those morons going click, click, click at the fuel station; trying to get another egg-cupful into the tank ?
It's just come out of storage 12 feet underground and stone cold. It'll quickly rise to the ambient temperature and expand. With no room left in the tank it pisses out of the breather / overflow all over the road.
On a bike, we've got a hot engine underneath just ask Ozzy what it's like to have (my) bike burst into flames between your legs, apparently it's exciting.

AND stop your dad doing it in his car. He's spending money (1litre per fill-up?) but even worse it's his diesel engined pig that's wiping us out on the next roundabout. Yes it expands that quickly, ever noticed how much fuel spotting there is on the road near fuel stations ?

By the way, you can tell him (and others) that if the plod spots his car / van / truck / pig doing it, it's a £1000 fine. Brilliant ! Most bike accidents that don't involve another vehicle are the result of diesel on the road - yes seriously. Oz
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Coolants 1

Only ever use distilled water to top up your bikes radiator. Just take look in your kettle (Suzuki GT750 owners please excuse that) to see how it furs up. Now, while your furry kettle just takes longer to boil, your bike won't be cooling efficiently, leading to a seized engine. If you don't have access to quantities of distilled water then you'll have to buy motorcycle (NOT car) premixed coolant. Oz
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2-Stroke Oils 1

We used to have lots of problems with strokers seizing, because we used whatever oil Dad had in the shed, now there's synthetic oils and seizures are getting to be a thing of the past.
Synthetics aren't oil, they're man-made chemicals and so much better but they are more expensive. For road bikes we would suggest you only need a semi-synthetic, so save some money but what's the price of oil compared to an engine re-build ? Another benefit (especially for low powered scooter riders) is that the synthetics don't burn and coke up the exhaust - reducing power still further - the oil is in a fine mist from the exhaust, coating the car behind.

There's new classification system for 2-stroke oils, the JASO rating, these are FA, FB or FC (A is the lowest, C is the best). New bikes will increasingly specify the minimum quality oil which they're designed for.

Think you need race quality oil for your road bike ? I doubt it but some people think every extra helps so ok, but make sure it's the right type.

Most 2-stroke race oils are designed to be pre-mixed with the fuel. Whereas on modern road bikes the oil is fed separately, by an injector. So the oil needs to be a (much) lower viscosity, "race" oils are too thick for an injector system. Make sure it says "for injector" on the bottle or you're going to have a seizure. Oz
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Motorcycle oils and additives 1

This one should be obvious but we still hear of people putting car oils into motorbikes. Now a car has a dry clutch, outside the engine; so they can have additives like friction inhibitors (PTFE and the like).
A motorbike (normally) has a wet clutch inside the engine. Putting a friction inhibitor on a clutch is pretty silly. Also, we make a lot of power from a relatively small engine, the stresses on a bike's power plant are much higher. Use only motorcycle oils and, preferably a semi or even fully-synthetic.

I've even heard of people putting car type additives in their oil ! Let's get this sorted out : if it doesn't say motorbike on the packet don't use it. Oz
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New Batteries 1 : this applies to car batteries too

Motorcycle batteries are expensive, small but have to work darned hard. So when you buy a new one, make sure you start right, or it'll never last.

A new battery should be filled with acid of the correct specific gravity to the max mark, then left for half an hour or so to settle (some will be absorbed by the insulators between the plates) and topped back up to the max mark. From then on, throughout its life you only top up with distilled or de-ionised water, never acid and tap water will wreck it.

Most people seem to believe the retailer, that a new battery is "pre-charged" and ready for use. That's not strictly the case. New lead plates with acid will work straight away but it'll only have about 85% of it's potential full charge and if you immediately start to discharge it, that's all it'll ever have, it will begin to sulphate straight away. So, now that expensive 14ah battery is only a 12ah battery, what a waste.!

Once it's been filled, allowed to settle and topped up it should be trickle (never boost) charged to full capacity and only then put to use. It's a bit of a pain but worth it in the long run.

Lead acid batteries die if left discharged and they'll discharge just stood there, even disconnected they lose about 10% of their charge per week. If you're laying the bike up, fully charge the battery and periodically recharge it to keep it's condition. Better still, get one of those battery optimiser thingies.
Oz
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Charging Batteries 1

Please remember that when charging, a battery gives off hydrogen gas that is explosive, so no smoking ! I've never seen it but know someone who saw a battery explode and there was a lot of flying acid.

Batteries should only be charged at up to 10% of their rated capacity. So for a normal 12ah bike battery, that's a max charge rate of only 1.2 amps then. Boost chargers and most car battery chargers deliver loads more; that can buckle the plates and damage a battery, killing it or at least reducing its capacity. Like most things, use motorcycle stuff on bikes. Trickle chargers are cheap and ideal.
Oz
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Engine flushing

I know someone who used a car type (here we go again) engine flush product when doing an oil change. Motorbikes shouldn't need them, we change oils much more frequently and use different oils to cars anyway. Why do people do this sort of thing ? The best tip I ever had from a mechanic was "if it isn't broken, don't fix it."

Anyway, some residues were duly lifted and flushed away, it looked pretty good to see the flushing oil being so dirty. Afterwards, the bike used oil like you wouldn't believe and smoked so badly it looked like a fast moving bonfire; until the plugs fouled up that is.

Tolerances in our engines are much finer, what happened was the valve stems / seals were cleaned but the stem seals had, by then, acquired a "memory" they no longer sealed. (Either that or the flusher attacked the seal?.) It wasn't too hard to sort out and a top end re-build didn't do any harm to the bike, just his wallet.
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