Tech Tip: Greasing Your Motorcycle
I like greasy motorcycles. Not dirty motorcycles, but greasy ones. Motorcycles where all the sliding, pivoting and rotating points are protected from harm by a nice film of waterproof high-pressure grease. In blunt language, few motorcycles are greased on a regular basis. Sure, some guys will pick up a grease gun from time to time and pump up whatever Zerk fittings are reachable, but how many of us take the time to grease all the points that need it as often as we should? I know I don’t…
Here’s the deal, motorcycles have lots of places that need grease; as I said, anything that slides, pivots or rotates is a candidate but most of us either ignore them altogether or at best pay only cursory attention. Now by no means am I saying you should rush out to the garage and start pulling things apart, although that’s not a bad way to spend a long winter afternoon, but what I do recommend is that you take a few moments to look your bike over, and make at least a mental note of spots that could use a little grease so you can attend to them the next time you service the bike or that particular component. Here’s a short list to get you started.
Swing arm and suspension pivot points: Many bikes have Zerk fittings, and yes, Zerk is a real word, so you can attach a grease gun and lube the bushings and bearings therein with high pressure grease-what we use to call chassis lube. If you don’t find any there don’t panic, it just means they’re sealed units and require no regular service.
Most other points won’t have Zerk fittings so you’ll have to take them apart to apply the grease. To prevent them from seizing in their bearings apply a thin film of grease to both axles. I like to use a high pressure waterproof grease or high-temp wheel bearing grease here; at the very least do it the next time you install new tires.
The lever pivot pins and the cable ends, where they pivot in the lever, like a dab of grease from time to time, as does the throttle drum. The lever pivots and cable aren’t too particular-almost any stiff grease will do, but use something lighter on the throttle, as heavy grease will make it sticky in cold weather. I like to use white lithium or even a little Vaseline between the drum and the handlebar; it’s light, waterproof and easy to find.
The brake pivot and foot peg/floorboard pivots should also get a little dab from time to time; it’ll prevent them from sticking. And don’t forget the rear brake clevis on a cable-operated brake.
I’m also a big believer in lubricating any and all fasteners with a little bit of grease or light oil to prevent rust and galling, but use a light hand here. You’ll only need a smear; anymore might act as a dirt magnet, and be sure to consult the manual if the fastener is crucial. In some cases, the manufacturer would prefer that you use a locking compound, which won’t work in the presence of oil, and there are even some circumstances when the instructions call for a specific bolt to be installed dry.
Lastly, things like the steering head and wheel bearings as well as the swing arm bushings, should be cleaned and repacked on a regular basis, or you can just do as I usually do-wait until they fail and then replace them. -MZ
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