Like anything with an engine and moving components, motorbikes are prone to breaking down. The likelihood of a breakdown is, however, mitigated to a great extent by making the effort to understand your motorbike and checking, maintaining and servicing it regularly.
The top ten causes of motorbike breakdowns
Knowledgeable, regular motorbike maintenance is how to reduce the likelihood of your motorbike breaking down.
Here are the top ten causes of motorbike breakdowns.
Alternator failures are often unpredictable; however, they can be mitigated by regularly servicing your motorbike.
The clutch will naturally wear down over time and need to be replaced which gives you ample time and warning to do so. However, broken cables, leaking master and/or slave cylinders can render your motorbike’s clutch inoperative in an instant.
Regular maintenance and servicing will help you to avoid this.
3. ECU (Engine Control Unit)/Engine
In a day and age where motorbikes are increasingly computerised, some of the most common, not to mention most annoying, problems are computer related.
General engine problems are also common, so have your ECU and engine checked and serviced regularly.
4. Flat battery
While a dying battery will generally give you ample warning and time to replace it, one of the most common causes of a flat battery is leaving the parking lights on.
5. Fuel and oil
Keep an eye on your fuel level so as to never allow it to slip into the red. Also, and this is a surprisingly common and avoidable problem, ensure you know which fuel your bike requires.
You should change the oil on your bike regularly, and once again, understand which engine oil is most suitable for your motorbike.
While most motorbikes don’t experience any gearbox related problems until they’ve seen some years on the road, regular maintenance is a sure-fire way to avoid experiencing any now and in the future.
7. HT (High Tension) leads
HT leads naturally deteriorate with age so keep an eye on them with the aim of replacing them when they begin to show signs of wear and tear.
Immobilisers are designed to prevent thieves riding off on our bikes; however, due to a failure, or more commonly operator error, they also often prevent us from doing the same.
9. Spark plug
A dirty spark plug can render your bike inoperative so clean them regularly. It’s also wise to replace them early if they’re showing signs of wear.
Check your tyres regularly to keep an eye on the tread and the air pressure. Nasty accidents can arise as a result of a lack of tread or low tyre pressure.
Break in your engine
While your motorbike won’t break down just because you didn’t break the engine in; breaking in the engine on a new motorbike will, however, help you to enjoy greater fuel efficiency and can help to preserve the engine’s health. Therefore, breaking in the engine can mitigate the likelihood of a breakdown.
Furthermore, many motorbike experts are of the opinion that properly breaking in the engine will extend its lifespan. Here’s how to do so.
1. Keep RPMs low (though not too low)
Take a look at the booklet that came with your motorbike regarding maximum RPMs for the first thousand (or so) kilometres. Moreover, and although it mightn’t mention this in the booklet, avoid too few RPMs also.
2. Accelerate slowly
Pay attention to the booklet regarding accelerating as slowly as possible for the thousand kilometres or as advised. Don’t worry, this is temporary!
3. Change gears often
To break in the gearbox change gears often. As you’ll be advised to stay under, for example, 4000 RPM, this won’t prove difficult.
To provide your bike’s engine and components with variation, which is part of the breaking in process, avoid constant speeds for lengthy periods on highways and motorways.
5. Avoid hard work
You’ll be able to put your motorbike through its paces once it’s broken in but until then avoid hard work – accelerating hard, carrying pillion passengers, riding up steep hills, etc.
6. Avoid the cold
Due to engine oil taking on a thicker consistency, it’s advisable to avoid riding in cold weather until it’s broken in as this will make the engine work harder.
While insuring your bike won’t help to prevent a breakdown, it will reduce the costs involved if you do experience problems or are involved in an accident, plus bike insurance is a legal requirement for all motorcyclists who ride their bikes on public roads and you could find yourself in hot water with the authorities if you’re caught riding without insurance, or even worse, involved in an accident.
Take note of the tips discussed here, particularly the need for knowledgeable and regular maintenance and servicing.