Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Year End Maintenance

Everyone looks forward to Spring because that is when most get ready for a brand new riding season. I am fortunate to live in Texas where I can ride about 320 days out of the year. About the only thing that will keep my bike in the garage is when the temperatures dip under 40, or if it is raining. Neither of those conditions come to my part of Texas very often. However, for many riders around the country, their bikes are "stored" for months at a time.

Just because you can't ride does not mean you can't enjoy your motorcycle. I derive a tremendous amount of enjoyment just spending time in the garage with my Goldwing, tinkering, cleaning, installing new accessories and performing very necessary annual maintenance tasks. There are some tasks that should be performed every year, and winter time is the best time to perform them.

Here are some of the maintenance tasks that I perform every winter on my bike:



Generally, the brake pads on a Goldwing should last 30,000 miles. Of course, your individual riding style, and the brand of brake pads you use, will also determine the life of the pads. Since I rarely put 30k miles on my bike in a 12 month period, technically, I do not need to replace the pads every year. But, I do it anyway. Why? For one thing, I don't want my primary riding season interrupted by having to replace brake pads. And for another, if I do this every year, I find it is easier to remember how to do it. Brakes are too important to ignore. And, by doing the job yourself, you will save enough in labor to more than pay for new brake pads every year.

Checking brake pads for excessive wear

Note: My DVDs show you step-by-step how to replace the brake pads on your 2001-2013 GL1800 or F6B.
A dealer will charge more than $125 in labor to replace your brake pads




After replacing the brake pads, the next order of business is to replace the old, tired brake fluid with fresh fluid. This too, is a job you can do at home and save the cost of a dealer's labor charges. All you need is a couple of bottles of DOT 4 brake fluid, a 10mm wrench and a screwdriver. I use a neat little tool from Motion Pro called a Mini-Bleeder. This little tool makes bleeding your brakes MUCH easier, especially if you are doing the job by yourself. The tool has a one-way check valve so that when you pump your brake lever/pedal, it allows the old fluid to pass through the bleed valve, but does not allow fluid or air to re-enter in between pumps. It is VERY cool and one of my favorite tools.

Motion Pro Mini-Bleeder makes doing the job much easier!

I know some riders who have never changed their brake fluid in years. Old, dirty brake fluid can cause all kinds of problems and result in expensive repairs down the road. Brake fluid breaks down over time and becomes contaminated. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it attracts moisture from the atmosphere. Even tiny amounts of moisture in the brake system will eventually cause premature wear and damage to brake calipers, pistons and master cylinders. If your brake fluid is not transparent, then it needs to be changed. Dark, muddy-looking brake fluid is an indication of contaminated fluid.

Note: My DVDs show you step-by-step how to flush and bleed the brakes on your 2001-2013 GL1800 or F6B. And, I show you how to use the Motion Pro Mini-Bleeder.
A dealer will charge more than $200 in labor to flush and bleed your brake system.




Your hydraulic clutch is subjected to the same contamination as your brake system. In fact, it uses the same DOT 4 brake fluid as the brake system. I flush and bleed my clutch every year, whether it needs it or not. Remember, you will never harm your clutch or brakes with fresh, clean fluid.

As with the brakes, I use the Motion Pro Mini-Bleeder on the clutch bleeder valve. it makes the job go so much easier and quicker.

Note: My DVDs show you step-by-step how to flush and bleed the clutch on your 2001-2013 GL1800 or F6B. And, I show you how to use the Motion Pro Mini-Bleeder. You can also rent or purchase this video On Demand.
A dealer will charge more than $75 in labor to flush and bleed your clutch system. 


This is probably one of the most overlooked maintenance procedures on a liquid-cooled motorcycle, or even on a car for that matter. Many people assume that as long as the vehicle is not overheating, that the coolant can be left alone. Not true!

Use only Silicate-Free coolants in your Goldwing!

Engine coolant does more than simply enhance the cooling properties of your engine. Engine coolant (anti-freeze) contains vital rust inhibitors that extend the life if your radiator and entire cooling system. These rust inhibitors tend to break down over time and lose their effectiveness.

As with any other fluids on your bike, you will never harm your motorcycle with fresh, clean coolant. However, you can't use just any coolant. Your motorcycle is designed for a specific type of coolant.

Note: My DVDs show you step-by-step how to flush and bleed the cooling system on your 2001-2013 GL1800 or F6B. And, I show you exactly what kind of coolant to use in your Goldwing.
A dealer will charge more than $100 in labor to flush your cooling system.


Goldwing owners in particular tend to put this vital maintenance item off longer than they should. The reason? Dealers will charge up to $300 to replace an air filter element. And, to do the job yourself can be daunting. Nevertheless, the air filter should be replaced every 25,000 miles. And, if you ride in extremely dusty conditions, you may need to even replace it sooner. Dirt and other contaminants enter your engine through the intake system. And, a clogged air filter will starve your engine for fresh air. This can result in diminished engine performance, poor gas mileage and premature engine wear.

Here, I am removing the top shelter on a 2006 Level 1 Goldwing

The good news is, this is a job that any Goldwing owner can do themselves with some patience, basic tools and a little guidance and hand holding. Again, I replace mine every year just so I don't have to worry about it. And, an engine will never be harmed by a clean air filter.

Note: My DVDs show you step-by-step how to remove and replace the top shelter on your 2001-2013 GL1800 or F6B as well as how to gain access to the air filter element for replacement. You can also view these videos (for 2001-2010) On Demand.
A dealer can charge as much as $200 in labor to replace your air filter. 

Working on your own bike can be fun and rewarding. Not only do you save a ton of money by avoiding the $100 per hour labor charges at a dealership, you can ride with the peace-of-mind knowing the job was done right.

Here's another tip:
With the money you save by doing your own maintenance, you can afford to buy some cool new accessories for your bike. And, while you are performing your year-end maintenance, that's a perfect time to install those goodies!



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