You love riding, but there’s two sides to owning a chopper. You’re familiar with the first. Are you familiar with the second: maintenance?

Maintaining your bike is probably at least as important as riding.

If you let your chopper go, you risk injuring yourself and the bike – probably not something you want to do considering how much money you’ve put into it.


Check The Tires

It’s basic maintenance, but one that’s almost always overlooked. It may be because checking tire pressure isn’t sexy. It might be because it’s so basic, that it’s “above” some owners.

Don’t make this mistake. Your tire has the proper PSI printed right on it. Use that. If you don’t keep your tires properly inflated, you’ll start noticing problems like premature wear, scalloping, and you even risk blowing out your tires.

Overinflation, for example, will produce a bald spot right in the middle of your tire’s contact patch. Underinflation will produce excessive wear on the outside of the tire but not in the center.

Also, check for stiffness in the sidewall, any dents or dings in the wheel rim, and any loose spokes. All of these are potentially dangerous issues. Get them fixed before taking your bike out for a ride. A lot of folks obsess over chrome covers, but they won’t take two minutes to check the air pressure in the tires.

Check Brakes and Brake Fluid Levels

Brakes are obviously a good thing. Check them at regular service intervals – but don’t just leave it at that.

Periodically check for even wear on your brake pads and rotor surfaces. If the pads are not properly bedding into the rotor, you’ll notice excessive ridges developing on the rotor. The rotor surface may warp, and you’ll probably notice a vibration in the handlebars while braking. Replace the pads and rotors.

Brake fluid is used on all modern motorcycles, and it’s the hydraulic pressure generated by the brake master cylinder that’s responsible for allowing you to stop. If fluid levels in the cylinder are too low, you may experience decreased brake performance.

Keep fluid levels between the “max” and “min” levels in your reservoir tank. Typically, choppers have two master cylinders – one near the front brake hand lever and one near the rear brake foot pedal.

Be sure to check the quality of the brake fluid too. Just because fluid levels are up, doesn’t mean that the fluid is good. A murky or rusty color indicates that rust is contaminating the fluid. This will decrease brake performance significantly. If you notice any “off” colour, check the brake lines immediately. Specifically, you’re looking for signs of wear, rust, or leaking.


Check Drive Belt

The final drive belt has a very thin coating of polyethylene. Over time, this coating will wear and will become burnished into the belt fabric. This is fine. What’s not fine is it you see the teeth on the belt start to chip. Excessive separation of the material, cracking, or fraying on the edge of the belt means that it’s time to replace the belt.

Belt tension should also be checked after the first 500 miles and every 2,500 miles after that.

Check Engine Oil

Engine oil is the blood of your chopper. The oil filter assembly filters out contaminates and ensures that the oil properly lubricates all engine parts. You should replace the filter every time you change the oil. Use the highest quality filter you can afford.

Periodically, check oil levels and color. If the oil smells burned, looks black, or there is visual evidence of contaminants, change the oil immediately.