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Basic Bike Maintenance

Discussion in 'Technical and Troubleshooting Torque' at netrider.net.au started by geeth, May 22, 2010.

  1. I have decided to put together a small-ish guide on how to maintain a bike.
    Today I have done chain cleaning and slack adjustment. Next week I will be doing a minor service on the bike and taking pics as I go to put together a guide on; Brake bleeding and cleaning, Oil change, Coolant change, Clutch cable lubing, spark plug change / inspection and wheel bearing check.

    With all maintenance work I find the biggest thing to continue doing is keeping everything you take off in a logical order so you don't magically end up with one screw after it's all back together.

    th_P4170042. - From when I pulled it apart because I was bored.
    I would like to note that these pics and steps are for my bike, you bikes may and probably will vary and if you attempt something and bugger it up it isn't my fault.
  2. How to clean your chain.

    You need need a few things to do this job
    Chain cleaner – I use kero as it does a great job and is a hell of a lot cheaper then branded products.
    Brush – I just use a toothbrush for this – Tek medium for those playing at home
    A few rags
    A few tools to remove the chain guard, front sprocket guard and possibly a few other things
    A container to put the kero in


    First of all you need to remove the chain guard and the front sprocket cover, there maybe a speedo device in front of your front sprocket as there is on my bike, this needs to come off. Should only be a couple of bolts holding it on. You may also need to remove the gear shift lever to get the housing off, my old bike was like this.

    th_P5220012. Front Sprocket cover

    The bit covering the bottom is my speedo - needs to be removed to get full access to the sprocket

    The Gunk

    As you can see there is a nice a bit of gunk has built up. This is about 1 months worth for myself. As you can see most of it is against the metal to the left of the chain. I remove a large amount of it using something quite small and firm, in this case it's an alan key.

    th_P5220018. GUNK!!

    With the larger chunks out of the way I soak a rag in kero and run it down the gap. It may help to move the rear wheel to move the rag through. Do this from the top and from the bottom.

    The rest it common sense. Just use the rag to rub off all the crap, sometimes the toothbrush can be used like on bolt heads, after it's clean give it a quick rub with a clean cloth – you don't have to be that thorough with it as you may have to do it again as the chain can flick a bit off during the cleaning process.

    Clean it will look a little like this

  3. On to the chain.

    I dip the rag in kero and wet the chain. If you use the master link as a guide it's very easy to tell when you have done a full loop.

    Wetting with the rag

    Cleaning the rollers, o-rings.

    Cleaning between the links.

    Once the chain is wet it's time to use the toothbrush. There is nothing special here just scrub. Go over the chain. You will find a technique that suits you. I do the rollers, the top of the chain on the bottom run and between the links facing me on the first loop around. On the 2nd I do the top of the chain on the top of the sprocket and in between the links on the other side. Give the chain a once over with a rag to dry it off a little bit. Then with a rag dipped in kero wash the sprockets. Give the whole lot another wipe over and that should be it. I am not concerned with getting the chain completely dry when doing this as I am about to wash the bike as there's no point having a shiny clean chain with a filthy bike.

    The result should look a little like this

  4. Adjusting Chain Slack

    First of all to find out how much chain slack you have you need to measure it. This is done by measuring the difference between where the chain sits normally and how far up it can be moved. You take this measurement at the mid point between the sprockets.


    So, you see that it's not within spec – My bike is 30 – 40 mm of slack. To adjust the chain you need to loosen the rear axle bolts, to do this first of all you need to remove the cotter pin (AKA split pin)

    You can see the cotter pin going through the bolt thread

    Now to loosen the axle nuts – Spinning one nut will make the other move to. You need a way to stop the other side moving. My solution was to use my pick up knob.


    Then move the nut on the other side. Note that these are pretty highly torqued – mine is speced at 108 nm. I had to use my entire body weight to get it to move


    The adjustment method will be different between a lot of bikes. Mine is to loosen the rear locking nut and turn the adjusting nut to tighten / loosen the chain. These are the nuts at the end of my swingarm.
    It is very important to adjust both sides evenly and to check the guides on the side of your swingarm to make sure they are even, If not this will put the rear wheel off balance.
    Once the chain is at the right tension and the guides are even. Tighten it all back up and check the tension again. To make sure it hasn't changed, if it has and is now out of spec then do it again. My chain lost 2 mm of slack during the tightening, but still ended up in spec.

    There are a number of methods to check the wheel balance. I turned on the bike and sat behind the rear wheel while it was spinning to make sure it ran straight.
  5.  Top
  6. Here's a free tip that you can use in your first photo. Get a small bag or box to keep your (generally) 6mm fasteners and GET THE PARTS OFF THE FLOOR!!!.

    I always get a cheap giggle when I watch people take nicely painted engine covers or side panels off and lie them FACE DOWN on concrete so they can keep the screws in them.

    The giggle comes later when someone with a blank look on their face wonders where the scratches came from.

    Hysterics of course when they accidently kick the bits across the garage floor.