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Five things you should never do to your bike

New to biking? Here's a head start with Visordown's guide to the most common blunders in motorcycling


Filled it with diesel? ... He won't help you

FILLING YOUR bike with diesel or running the engine without oil are obvious gaffs most workshops only see every now and again. According to the dealers, mechanics and specialists we spoke to there are host of less obvious things we should never do to our bikes but many of us still seem to be guilty of them. We've listed the five most common but if you think we've missed one then let's hear about it!

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Over tensioning the chain

Too tight? ... Not right

Over tensioning the chain

Many of the bikes seen in workshops around the country have had their chain adjusted way too tight. In extreme cases, an over-tight drive chain can knacker the sprockets, prematurely wear the gearbox bearings and even prevent the rear suspension from working properly.

Many riders, including me, adjust their chains without any load on the suspension, so any slack's taken up as soon as the rider climbs aboard. Apparently, we should allow enough free play for the rider's weight and a pillion too, if one's taken on a regular basis. We should also check the tension at several points on the chain, as it could have tight spots. This also means the chain's getting to the end of its life and probably needs replacing.

Custom paint job or a polished frame

How to waste £2000 in one easy step

Custom paint job/polished frame

Custom paint jobs and polished aluminium were all the rage 20 years ago but now both modifications aren't good news for your bike's resale value. All of the dealers we spoke to said either mod would lower the bike's trade-in value, as buyers are prepared to pay higher premiums for totally standard machines - bad news for those that have spent £1500 on a Rossi replica paint scheme. What's more, a custom paint job usually makes potential buyers suspicious, as most will assume your bike's been crashed.

Over-tightening bolts

"If I can just give it one more turn..."

Over tightening bolts

Hands up if you religiously use a torque wrench when spannering your bike. Me neither. According to many of the mechanics we spoke to, over-tightening bolts was an extremely common problem - many owners had been so ham-fisted they'd damaged the bolt itself or stripped the thread. Most common are spark plugs, exhaust studs and sump plugs, as well as rear spindle nuts, steering head bearings and oil filters. Apparently, we should check the owner's manual for all settings and use a quality torque wrench when tightening any bolts. Spark plugs should be tightened by hand and then 'nipped' with a spanner - no more.

Not cleaning your motorcycle after a winter ride

"Bugger ... I knew I should have washed it straightaway"

Not cleaned after winter ride

Leaving your bike with even a day's winter grime is a sure fire way of decimating your bike's resale value. Many dealers told us they'd seen many low mileage bikes suffering from salt corrosion because the owner thought it'd be ok to wash it later in the week - only to find corrosion had taken hold of all the bare metal parts when they opened the garage door days later. The dealer's advice?

"It takes less than ten minutes to give a bike a quick wash with car shampoo and a thorough rinse - it's a must if you're going to ride your pride and joy in winter. A liberal dousing of Scottoil F365 is a good idea, too."

Using the wrong tools for the job

Mole grips ... the culprit of numerous bodge jobs

Using incorrect tools

There's nothing worse than a bike that's been fettled with badly fitting spanners, but the traders we spoke to told us they still see some bodges that could easily be avoided if the owners invested in a decent set of tools. Apparently, many owners are guilty of using make-do tools for a variety of jobs. Some will resort to using a set of mole grips if they don't have the correct size of spanner, while others will use a variety of weapons if they don't have a screwdriver to hand. The most frequent bodges seen were suspension adjusters, chain tensioners, screw heads and allen bolts.

Using incorrect tools

There's nothing worse than a bike that's been fettled with badly fitting spanners, but the traders we spoke to told us they still see some bodges that could easily be avoided if the owners invested in a decent set of tools. Apparently, many owners are guilty of using make-do tools for a variety of jobs. Some will resort to using a set of mole grips if they don't have the correct size of spanner, while others will use a variety of weapons if they don't have a screwdriver to hand. The most frequent bodges seen were suspension adjusters, chain tensioners, screw heads and allen bolts.