American Iron Magazine’s Simple Harley Tech – 10 Basic Motorcycle Maintenance Tips

A motorcycle can’t last forever – even a Harley which has to be the most rebuildable motorcycle ever. But, according to the editors of American Iron Magazine, if you give your Harley some basic maintenance your Harley can last more than a lifetime.

RULE #1 Read Your Motorcycle Owner’s Manual. You should get an owner’s manual with your new Harley or you can order one for your used Harley. Read it thoroughly to better understand what your Harley needs and how best to operate and maintain your Harley. Some people read their owners’ manual every year to refresh themselves on what is in it. It is a good guide for what you should and should not do.

RULE #2 Keep a Logbook. If you plan on keeping your Harley for a while it is a good idea to keep a simple logbook. This will help you keep track of all maintenance and issues. Note when your Harley has an oil change (date and mileage) and what kind of oil you used. New brake pads or tire? Note the date, mileage and brands. Some people even track all their gas purchases to calculate miles per gallon. And, when it is time to sell your Harley the logbook will show perspective buyers how well you maintained it.

RULE #3 Check & Maintain Your Motorcycle Battery. Today more than ever, if your Harley’s battery is not at its best your bike will not run well or possibly at all. A well maintained motorcycle battery will last three or more years. A poorly maintained one might last only one year. This goes for traditional wet cell and the newer sealed batteries. Wet cell batteries need to be checked to make sure there is enough fluid in each cell. If not add to the correct level with distilled water. Keep the battery terminals clean and dry and use a smart charger if your Harley is sitting for more than a couple of weeks.

RULE #4 Check Your Motorcycle Tires. The best time to check your tire pressure is when the tires are cold. Under-inflated tires reduce tire life and can cause poor handling and breaking issues in your Harley. Check the owners’ manual for proper tire pressure ratings for your particular Harley and tires. In addition to checking your tire pressure, you need to also check the condition of the tires. This includes the depth of the tread in the center of the tire as well as look for any signs of dry rot, cracking or other deterioration. If you feel there is an issue with your tires bring your Harley to a dealer or shop to look them over.

RULE #5 Check Your Motorcycle Belt or Chain. Years ago all harleys used chains to drive the rear wheel. Today most Harleys use belts, which are virtually worry-free. Either way, you need to check the condition and tightness of your drive chain or belt. The belt should be tight and undamaged. The chain should also be snug and well lubricated.

RULE #6 Check Your Lights. At least every month you should check all the lights on your Harley. Headlight (high and low), brakelight and turn signals. If any of them are not working properly you should replace the bulb or fix the cause immediately. In addition to it being the law in many states it is also a smart thing to do for your own safety.

RULE #7 Keep Your Motorcycle Oil & Filter Fresh. A lot of people view oil as the lifeblood of a motorcycle. You should check the oil level in you engine once a week and top it off as needed. In addition you should change the oil (engine and transmission) and filter as recommended in the owner’s manual or annually, whichever comes first.

RULE #8 Keep Your Harley Clean. Thoroughly wash your Harley on a regular basis. In addition to looking bad, dirt and grease can hold moisture and damage the finish on your Harley’s painted and chromed parts. It is not recommended to wax your Harley more than 3 or 4 times a year. Not only does cleaning your Harley keep it looking its best, but taking the time to thoroughly clean your Harley allows you the opportunity to inspect the motorcycle for any problems or loose hardware.

RULE #9 Check Your Harley’s Hardware. Harleys vibrate when ridden. And vibration causes some hardware to loosen or even fall off. So it is a wise investment of your time to check all the hardware on your Harley a few times a year. If you find lose hardware on your Harley tighten (but do not overtighten) it properly. If the same hardware continues to get lose consider using a product like Loctite on it.

RULE #10 Read American Iron Harley Magazine This will let you stay up on the latest trends, products and improvements for your Harley. American Iron Magazine is the world’s best selling Harley magazine. You can subscribe to the digital delivery anywhere in the world by clicking on Digital Harley Magazine, or order it in print by clicking on Harley Magazine Print subscription.

For more information on classic Harleys visit the Classic American Iron forum. For some great products visit the Greaserag site.


  1. We discontinued it after it was overwhelmed by spammers.

  2. So, what ever happened to the AIM online forum? I practically rebuilt my bike with advice from that forum. I was even helping others with my squires knowledge.

    Is it hidden someplace or discontinued???