At Dirty Unicorn, we can build you a phenomenal custom Harley Davidson. But what happens after we hand over the keys is up to you. We’re big advocates of regular motorcycle maintenance to maximise your ride time and minimise repairs. So we’ve put together these quick and dirty tips on keeping your custom motorcycle ready for the road.
Expand your knowledge
It’s pretty simple. Get to know more about your custom bike – and Harley Davidsons in general — and you’ll learn how to spot any potential problems and deal with them.
#TeamDU loves talking all things Harley, so start by picking our brains before heading off with your new motorcycle. We’ll have plenty of insights into caring for the custom parts we’ve used. Then read your handbook and check out some owners’ groups. Other bikers are a great resource when you’re trying to diagnose an issue.
Check it out
Bike maintenance isn’t tough if you make it a regular task. Of course, it won’t replace a thorough once-a-year full-throttle service by a qualified mechanic. But a quick visual inspection and a few easy maintenance chores will keep your custom Harley Davidson running at peak performance.
Get plenty of fluids
Oil and petrol might be your machine’s lifeblood, but you’ll also need to keep an eye on coolant and brake fluid. If you haven’t made it out for a ride in a while, double-check oil and fluid levels and top up as necessary.
Don’t forget to check your fork oil unless you like a challenging ride – but leave the oil change to the professionals. A complete flush and change will give you total confidence as you head out for a ride and help you get the best out of your motorcycle.
show your wheels some love
Tyre health is vital. Those rubber hoops are your primary point of contact with the road. So it stands to reason that you need to keep them well maintained.
Do a quick visual inspection before you head out on a ride. First, look for cracks, tears, holes and other signs of damage. Next, make sure the tread is legal using the rim of a 20p piece. Now check they’re inflated to the correct pressure, using a tyre gauge while the rubber is still cold.
Over and under-inflated tyres are a safety issue, compromising grip, handling and fuel efficiency, so it’s worth taking a few seconds to check they’re good to go. Also, a new set of rubber is much cheaper than replacing a bike that got wrecked in a blowout.
While you’re looking out for your tyres, give a little love to your brake pads. Worn brake pads can be fatal, so if they’re 2mm thick or less, get them replaced. Mechanics say you should check and change every 6,000-9,000 miles. But if you regularly ride up hills or steep streets, you’ll find they wear out faster – so a quick check could save your life.
Check for vital signs
Your battery is the beating heart of your motorcycle, and you’re not going anywhere if it isn’t charged up and ready to roll. If you’re not riding regularly enough to keep your battery charged, like over the winter months, disconnect it until you’re ready to head out.
In any case, your battery needs regular recharging to maximise its lifespan. So if your battery is over two years old and struggling to hold a charge, think about getting a replacement before getting stranded. And don’t forget to check and clean or replace your spark plugs every 4,000 – 8,000 miles.
You’ll also want to keep your chain well oiled and tensioned. A typical chain, properly looked after, can last 18,000 miles. So it’s definitely worth a regular check to prevent wear and tear and keep those gear shifts smooth as silk.
Keep it clean
The first thing to remember when cleaning and polishing your custom Harley Davidson is that you’re not dealing with a factory model. And that’s why you need to take extra care of that chrome, custom seat and awesome paint job.
Start by removing or taping up custom parts. Use a plastic bag to protect your saddle and tape up the seam on those upside-down forks so water can’t get in.
Seek out a good quality shampoo and specialised motorcycle products to remove dirt and excess oil and protect and polish your beloved chrome and custom paint. And be gentle, don’t go in guns blazing with a power washer when a garden hose will do the job better.
One last tip: grab a fresh cloth if you drop your microfibre while washing or polishing. Any grit or dirt on your cloth could mean scratched chrome and a ruined paint job.