The art of moped maintenance
May 16, 2010 12:33 PM   Subscribe

I want to spring-service my motorbike, help me put together a list of what I need to do and the best youtube or other tutorials to follow. More details and a confession inside....

Ok, confession time. It's a moped, 50cc. But it's a 4 stroke, manual and cruiser-styled, so I think it has more in common with a small motorbike than a scooter-style moped in this case. Random site with pics and info. I've had it for a year, half that in winter storage and have done no maintenance whatsoever, no idea what the previous 4 owners might have done.

Hopefully my deception is forgiven and you want to help me become a mechanical maintenance goddess in training.

What do I need to do? In what order? Which things should I prioritise?

I get that I should, for example, check the spark plug (or oil, or air filter or..). I can probably locate it, and I see lots of youtube tutorials on how to check your spark plugs, but I don't have the knowledge needed to evaluate the tutorial, so I might pick the one with incorrect or incomplete information. A lot of them seem to assume a large degree of prior knowledge.

All types of material are ok, if you know a good e-how, or fancy explaining yourself, that's excellent, youtube was mainly since I am a visual learner.

I have read some of the other motorbike and moped threads, and please can we leave safety warnings and horror stories out of this one.
posted by Iteki to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm working here from the assumption that this is a fairly new bike? (mileage would be useful)..

Without that info, I would do the following:

Change the plug (cheap and might as well)
Change the oil (I doubt it has an oil filter, but if it does, change that too)
Change the air filter (or clean it if it can be cleaned, but I doubt that is the case)
Check tire air pressure
Check nuts and bolts to make sure everything is tight
Check play in clutch cable (too tight, too loose?) adjust as needed
Check play in brake cables/rods.
Check tread on tires.
None of this takes a lot of knowledge...
The most important part is the oil change..(you'll need to find out the oil capacity)
posted by HuronBob at 1:18 PM on May 16, 2010

Generally speaking ... buy the workshop manual and follow the annual service that is detailed within.
posted by jannw at 1:41 PM on May 16, 2010

Best answer: help me put together a list of what I need to do

When I last took my motorbike to be serviced, the chap I had doing it gave me a checklist of the things he had checked in the course of a basic service. Those were:
* Check tyres for wear and cracks, and adjust pressures
* Check wheels for loose spokes or damage
* Check wheel bearings
* Check brake pads or shoes for wear
* Check callipers for sticking
* Check hoses/cables/rods for wear
* Check/top up brake fluid
* Check fork seals for leakage
* Check steering bearings
* Oil handlebar controls
* Check handlebar controls for damage/adjustment
* Lubricate cables if necessary
* Oil or grease all frame pivots
* Check gear lever and kickstart
* Check rear brake pedal
* Check suspension arm bearings/linkages for play
* Check rear unit for leakage
* Check rear chain - lubricate, adjust
* Check/change shaft drive oil
* Lubricate seat catches/pivots
* Top up battery - grease terminals
* Clean/replace air filter
* Clean/replace plugs
* Test plug caps/coils
* Adjust tappets
* Check, reset points
* Balance carbs
* Change oil/filter
* Spray H.T. Caps/Coils/Leads with WD-40
* Check operation of all electrical equipment
* Check coolant level

Now, that's only the checklist I was handed, so other people might be able to point out things that should or shouldn't be on there - or might be able to direct you to instructions on how to perform the checks listed.
posted by Mike1024 at 1:44 PM on May 16, 2010

You'll need 3 things-
1. A manual. Study the relevant section first. The specific Hayes book of lies is good for most UK bikes.
2. The right tools. You'll only have to pay for them once, without them you will do damage.
3. A clean white cloth. As you take things apart, lay them out on the cloth. You'll see how to put it all back together without losing or missing bits.
Don't force things, but everything can be taken apart. You'll be amazed how much can be done very easily, without tutorials or videos. Just take your time and be logical.
Have fun. You can PM me if you get stuck.
It does sound like you want to get a proper bike tho.
posted by BadMiker at 4:30 PM on May 16, 2010

I'm guessing it's been sitting for six months? Bikes don't like to sit. If so, clean the carbs.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 4:41 PM on May 16, 2010

Best answer: I wouldn't clean the carburettor, so much as drain the fuel from the tank and float bowl. Add fresh petrol.
And hey, it has two wheels and an engine. It's a motorcycle. Be proud of your baby!
posted by Duke999R at 5:52 PM on May 16, 2010

Best answer: seconding Duke - it may not go very fast, but it's definitely a bike.

Posters above have given nice comprehensive lists of things to check. In my experience there are basically two things that usually go wrong after a bike has been sitting for months.

First is the battery. Motorcycle batteries do not last long, especially if you leave them to sit and discharge all winter. One six-month idle stint is enough to kill a battery, especially if it's cold out. This would show up as trouble getting the bike to start. I see that your bike also has a kick-starter, so you can probably get it going anyway, but if your electric start sounds weak and unsteady, you probably need to replace the battery.

Second is the carburetor. This is basically a fancy valve, which mixes fuel and air and feeds the result into the cylinder to be burned. It contains a space called a "float bowl" which holds a small amount of fuel. As you run the engine, the carburetor steadily consumes this fuel and refills the bowl from your gas tank: but if you leave the bike sitting for months, the fuel slowly evaporates, eventually leaving gooey sludge behind. The symptoms are that your bike takes a lot of work to start, runs unevenly, and doesn't produce much power: basically the sludge is keeping fuel from flowing freely.

You can prevent this by running your bike dry before you leave it parked for the winter. This doesn't mean you need to empty the tank; the tank should have a petcock underneath, a switch on the left side that lets you turn the fuel flow on and off. If you start the engine, turn off the petcock, and let the bike run, the engine will gradually burn through all the fuel in the float bowl. The bike will take longer to start in the spring but it will run smoothly.

If the carburetor is already gummed up, you will need to clean it. This seemed like a complex and frightening process the first time I did it, but it's not as bad as it looks. A shop manual for your bike will help here. Basically you disconnect the throttle cable, disconnect the fuel line, and unscrew the clamp holding the carburetor onto the engine block. This frees the carburetor up so you can put it on a workbench or something. Now remove the top cover to reveal the float bowl. Spray the bowl with carb cleaner (you can get this at any auto parts store) and wipe it out with a clean rag, then put it back together the same way it came apart. Presto, your bike runs smoothly again.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:47 AM on May 17, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks guys and girls, this gives me a great jumping off point to learn more!
The manual is about 12 postcard sized pages explaining the buttons and levers, but I have a quite detailed parts catalogue, and have previously replaced the shift-linkage all on my tod.
I love my bikey and am proud of her, thanks for the validation :)
posted by Iteki at 8:09 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think everyone is referring to a proper shop manual - one that show how to completely disassemble the bike, the owners manual is really a brochure - short and not terribly informative.
posted by zenon at 10:33 AM on June 16, 2010

« Older Need advice on how to accept my daughter spending...   |   Literary (or cinematic) depictions of prodigiously... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.