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Annual Electrical Inspection

This is something that should be done more than once a year, but at minimum it should be done at least annually. That is the electrical inspection of your motorcycle. This is to ensure that everything is functioning the way it should as far as lights, kick stand switch, kill switch and more. Please make sure to check these things at least once a year:

  1. Proper dash lights illuminate when ignition on, but motorcycle isn’t running.
  2. Day lights (if equipped) – ensure they come on when the motorcycle ignition is on but motorcycle is not running.
  3. Headlight low beam
  4. Headlight high beam
  5. Left turn signal front
  6. Left turn signal rear
  7. Right turn signal front
  8. Right turn signal rear
  9. Taillight
  10. Brake light when applying front brake
  11. Brake light when applying rear brake
  12. When in neutral and kick stand down – bike starts
  13. When in neutral and kick stand up – bike starts
  14. When in gear and kick stand down – bike doesn’t start
  15. When in gear and kick stand up – clutch released – bike doesn’t start
  16. When in gear and kick stand up – clutch engaged – bike starts
  17. When in gear and kick stand goes down – bike stops
  18. When in neutral and kick stand goes down – bike continues running
  19. Kill switch turns off motorcycle

I did a brief run down in this video for my 1000sx

Five Motorcycle Projects for the Off Season

As a motorcycle enthusiast, the off season can be a great time to work on projects to improve your bike or get it ready for the next riding season. Here are a few ideas for motorcycle projects you can tackle in the off season:

  1. Clean and Wax: The off season is a great time for a good full detailing. Clean your motorcycle with detailing spray, since it is too cold for a hose. Polish out any blemishes and put on a few nice coats of ceramic wax. Remember to wait 24 hours in between coats of ceramic wax. This is also a good time to give your gear a good cleaning. Most gear can not go in a washing machine, but you can use leather conditioners and cleaners to clean off bug splats, etc. Give your helmet a good cleaning to make it look like new. You may choose to wax your helmet, but be careful as it makes it slippery so a lot easier to drop, and a dropped helmet becomes a display piece and should no longer be used for riding.
  2. Maintenance: Winter is a great time to give your motorcycle a thorough tune-up. Check the spark plugs, fluid levels and, if equipped, external fuel filter. You can also take this time to take the tank off and give it a good cleaning. Make any necessary repairs, get tires changed if they are due, change the brakes, chain and sprockets (remember, they must be changed together), change the coolant and, if equipped, external fuel filter, if it is due. When the weather starts warming up is a good time to do your annual oil change and change the brake fluid. You don’t want to change the oil and brake fluid in the heart of the winter unless your garage or area is environmentally controlled as condensation will be absorbed. Doing these things will help ensure your bike is in top condition when the warm weather rolls around.
  3. Customization: If you’re looking to put your own personal touch on your motorcycle, the off season is the perfect time to make modifications. Whether you want to add some gadgets, upgrade your exhaust, or paint your bike a new color, the off season is the perfect time to get creative.
  4. Restoration: If you have an older motorcycle that you want to restore, the off season is a great time to get started. You can take the bike apart, clean and repair each component, and put it back together again, giving it a new lease on life without losing any riding time.
  5. Safety upgrades: Winter is also a good time to consider adding any safety upgrades to your motorcycle. This could include installing new lights, adding reflective tape, upgrading your brakes, adding a better horn and more.

No matter what project you choose to work on, the off season is a great time to get your hands dirty and make your motorcycle even better. Just be sure to follow all safety guidelines and take necessary precautions when working on your bike. Happy wrenching and keep the rubber side down!

DTC Code? Read it with an ODB2 Reader

All of us hate to see the gut wrenching, heart stopping SES light on our dash. Millions of things jump right through our head, but in the end the ultimate question is, “What could be wrong?”

Sometimes we create the error when working on the motorcycle. Maybe we forget to hook something up. Or maybe while working on it we somehow crimped a wire. Other times it could just be normal wear and tear on the motorcycle. In the end we don’t know what is wrong.

Well don’t fret too much. You probably do not need to buy an expensive reader or have a shop charge an arm and a leg to hook up their reader to it to see what the error is. You more than likely can hook up to your motorcycle directly and read the code.

But how? There is no ODB2 connection!

True, but there are adapters! A lot of modern bikes use the red euro style connectors, others use proprietary connectors but you can probably find them with a simple Google or Amazon search.

For example, you can find the euro style adapter that works on 2020+ Kawasaki Ninja 1000SXs here on Amazon:

You can find the connector for 2019 and earlier models here on Amazon:

On my YouTube channel I go over how to hook up and read codes on my 2021 Ninja 1000SX – and it is similar across other models such as Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki.


Get Your Bike Ready, It’s Time To Ride

The fresh scent of Spring in the air, birds chirping, trees and plants blooming and riding weather will be quickly upon us, though some it has already come. You may have already started your riding season, but for some of us it hasn’t yet; however, it is quickly approaching. With the beginning of riding season, you need to get your bike ready. If you ride year round, or live in an area where the weather is nice year round this post may not really apply to you. For the rest, read on.

If your bike has been sitting, there are a couple things you need to do to ensure it is ready to ride. Some of these things are part of standard pre-ride checks, but others don’t occur as often.


Hopefully you did one of two things during the off-season. You either removed the battery and brought it inside or put it in a warmer climate area or you had a tender hooked up to it. If you did neither of these, your battery is going to need a charge. Hook up a charger and get your battery ready to go. Nothing is worse than hitting nice weather and you go to start your bike and it does nothing or you get that awful starter sound where it just doesn’t have enough juice to engage. There is a possibility where you may even get the bike started, but it may not have enough juice to start again unless you ride long enough. If your battery is completely dead, it is best to just replace it, as it will never be as reliable. In either case, get a charged battery ready for you to ride.


I am hoping everyone put stabilizer in their fuel before the off-season. Gas goes back quickly, especially gas with ethanol. Without stabilizer, the gas breaks down and gets gunky. You may go and start your bike and it starts fine, but that gunk is going to clog your filters, injectors or carbs and maybe even your fuel pump. If you didn’t put stabilizer in your gas, it is time to find a can and drain the tank and put fresh gas in. If you did stabilize, hopefully you stabilized with a full tank. If not, there may be some rust in your tank now if it is metal. Be careful about this, that rust will continue eating through the tank until you spring a leak. If you did have stabilizer, your gas should be good to go. If it seems to run rough, go ahead and drain it and use it in your lawn mower, pressure washer or some other machine and put fresh gas in.


Your tire pressure is more than likely low. My tire pressures are 36 PSI up front and 42 PSI in the rear. When I checked the other day, they were 20 and 24. Check your pressures and make sure they are correct. Most times you should go with the motorcycle recommended settings (can be found on swing arm or some other sticker on the bike, or in your manual). If you drastically change tires or other things, you may have custom pressures you use, just make sure they are right before you begin riding.


There tends to be this misconception that if you just changed the oil before the end of the season that you don’t need to change it in the Spring. This may be true in your case, but it most likely isn’t. If your bike is stored in an area that cools down and heats up, condensation forms on the inside of the motor. Oil loves to absorb this moisture and it gets ruined. This doesn’t matter if you are using conventional or full synthetic – it still absorbs the moisture. Sometimes you may go to check your oil before the riding season to make sure the level is good – something you should do before every ride, and it looks cloudy or milky. You may even see condensation on the site glass (if you have one) because the warmer weather has heated up on the outside and caused little water droplets inside your engine to form. In any of these circumstances, you need to change your oil. Don’t run your bike with water logged oil, it isn’t good for it. If you had a climate controlled garage, brought it in your house or a few other rare situations, you may be okay, in which case you just need to make sure you have the proper oil level. Check for any oil leaks, especially around the drain plug and filter. Make sure no hoses are leaking, etc.

Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is like oil in the way it absorbs moisture; however, it doesn’t need replaced every year. Most manufacturers recommend every two years. The reason is that brake fluid breaks down over time, but it also absorbs moisture for the same reasons your oil does – condensation. Some think it is a closed system, so moisture cannot get in – but this isn’t the case. The same thing happens as the engine, if the brake lines, reservoir, calipers and such warm up, and the insides are really cold, moisture forms. If you are at the two year mark, this is the time to change out your brake fluid. If not, just check the levels and make sure all is good. The last thing you want is to not be able to stop. Check

Engine Coolant

If your bike is liquid cooled, this applies to you. Engine coolant is not affected by moisture like oil and brake fluid, but the lubricative elements of the coolant break down over time and with use. These keep your water pump functioning and not bind up. Other elements in the coolant keep corrosion from happening inside your radiator and lines. Replace your coolant at manufacturer recommended intervals. A lot of bikes this is two years, and the best time is at the beginning of a riding season. If you are not due for a replacement, check the level and for any leaks around the radiator, hoses and engine.


Hopefully you cleaned and lubed your chain before the end of last season, but in either case, it is a good idea to clean and lubricate it before the season. The reason is if it is sitting, well, anywhere – dust and other debris can accumulate on the chain. A good cleaning never hurt it, but at the very least lubricate it. Check the tension and make sure everything looks good as well as the sprockets.


Checking the brakes on a motorcycle can be a chore, but if you are not sure of the wear levels it is worth checking to make sure your pads are good. Braking is very important for any vehicle, as you need to be able to stop. Sometimes you can get a flashlight and the right angle to look down in the calipers and see the pads, maybe even see the wear notch. If not, go ahead and pull the calipers off and check the wear level of the pads. The fronts will tend to wear down quicker than the rear, but always good to check both. If they need replacement, go ahead and do that so you can stop when you need to.

Standard Pre-Ride Checks

Make sure to perform your standard pre-ride checks that you do (you are doing them right?) before every ride. Walk around the bike and look for any leaks. Check your lights to make sure they are working, as well as your horn. Make sure your steering works as expected. Check your brakes and throttle response to make sure everything is as it should be. Make sure you have your latest insurance and registration for the bike.

The responsibilities that come with owning a motorcycle may seem like a lot, but they are to keep you safe and your machine running in good working order where it will last a long time. Be sure to do all your service maintenance at the proper intervals. Some are every year, two years, five years. Some are just by mileage. Go through your manual or look up the service schedule online. Keep your bike healthy and happy and it will return the favor.

Once you are all set, head on out and enjoy! Keep your eyes up and two wheels on the ground. Be sure to watch for all of the cars (cagers) out there – they aren’t used to seeing bikes from the off-season, so they will be even less likely to be looking. Stay safe and hope to see you out there!

The Importance of Chain Maintenance

I decided to write this post after coming across a post on a facebook group I am a part of where the OP was asking for recommendations for new chain and sprockets because their chain snapped. Naturally, I asked to myself, “How did the chain snap?” To the comments!

Someone else asked the same question, and the OP’s response was that it was an old chain and they had it serviced at the dealer at the beginning of the year and was hoping to get another year out of it.

Queue the red flags, the sirens, the red alert, everything! They had it serviced at the beginning of the year! Why is this bad? Well, unless they only rode a couple hundred miles and never in the rain then there needed to be more maintenance done. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible that they only rode a couple hundred miles during the year, but by the way the comments were going from the OP this was not the case.

You should always lube your chain after riding in wet weather or washing the bike – this is critical. I will get into more on that in a minute. You should clean and lube your chain about every six hundred miles or so. If you are on a long trip you can get away with just lubing it rather than cleaning it all the time as you do need a water source to rinse the cleaner off.

Why? Well, the chain is metal for one. We aren’t talking stainless steel or aluminum, just regular steel. What happens when regular steel gets wet? It rusts. What also happens? The water seeps into the pins (unless they are sealed, but even then it can still get in there) and rust forms which then causes friction which causes wear. By not lubing your chain after it gets wet, you are going to shorten it’s life quite a bit and it won’t be as safe to ride. Water can also remove the lubrication, which then wears your sprockets.

As for cleaning – think about where that chain is. What it is going through and picking up. Dust, dirt, tar, little gravel, grass and more. This stuff just accumulates which then causes premature wear on the chain and your sprockets. So cleaning it off every so often is just a good idea, but you need to wash the cleaner off before lubricating otherwise the cleaner will actually render most of the lubricant useless.

You might be thinking, okay – so I’ll just replace the chain and sprockets (remember to always change both, never just one or the other) as the wear. Well, that’s like saying you’ll just change the oil in your car when it gets low rather than at it’s scheduled maintenance thereby leading to wear on the engine. When your chain starts wearing prematurely, it isn’t a natural wear. It cuts grooves and weakens links in the chain. Now think about this – if you’re going 70mph and the chain snaps it’s going to fling up, rip the plastic chain cover to shreds, then smack your engine typically ripping a chunk right off thereby destroying your motor. Is it really worth it then?

Another benefit to regular maintenance on a chain is it gives you a chance to inspect it. Notice any bad wear patterns, or bad looking links. Things that may be an indication of an impending failure so you can take care of it before you end up totaling your motor.

A well maintained chain and sprocket set should be able to last 20k – 30k miles. Neglect can shorten that drastically.

Do yourself a favor, take the time to maintain your chain. If you’re going on a long trip, make sure to carry chain lube with you for if it rains.

Stay safe out there and keep the rubber side down.

Chain Maintenance

Changing the Oil on your Motorcycle

One of the most important things you can do for your motorcycle is maintenance. Part of the maintenance cycle is an oil change. In order for internal combustion engines to operation, there must be oil. This allows the friction areas of the engine to run without binding up, overheating and causing catastrophic damage to the motor itself.

Over time, oil breaks down and accumulates moisture. This is why it is imperative to change oil at regular intervals, both mileage and time. Modern synthetic oils can last longer, but motorcycle engines are delicate, especially on sport bikes where they are performance engines, which is why it is still best to change the oil at 3000 miles or annually, even when running premium synthetic motor oils.

Oil changes are one of the easiest maintenance tasks to perform as long as you follow the proper procedure.

  • Remove drain bolt and drain oil
  • Remove oil filter
  • Lube new oil filter (the gasket and threads with clean new oil)
  • Install new oil filter
  • Replace drain bolt (possibly with new washer)
  • Add new oil
  • Check level (it should be over full at this point)
  • Run bike to warm it up and have oil fill the filter and other parts of the motor
  • Turn off bike and wait before checking oil level again – it should be correct now

Any person is capable of an oil change if they have the right tools. The tools are affordable and there is nothing too costly – the oil will cost the most.

  • Oil (proper weight and quantity)
  • Oil Filter
  • Crush washer (if applicable)
  • Filter Wrench
  • Socket Wrench for drain plug (do NOT use a crescent wrench)
  • Drain pan
  • Funnel (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Torque wrench (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Bike stands or lift (optional, but highly recommended)

Performing the Oil Change

motorcycle on stands
Bike on Stands

Don’t mind the messy garage :-).

It is preferable to get the bike in the air. Bike stands for sport bikes or a bike lift for cruisers, etc is recommended. This allows you to easily get the bike off the ground and a drain pan under it.

Remove drain plug
Remove Drain Plug

Place the oil pan under the oil pan/drain plug on the bike, find the right size socket and remove the drain plug. Make sure to get the existing crush washer or gasket if there is one.

Oil draining from oil pan

Let the oil drain from the bike until it starts coming out as a very slow drip. You will see the crush washer left on the image above – remove this washer if it doesn’t fall on its own. You may choose to warm the bike up before removing the drain plug. This allows the oil to thing down a bit and come out quicker, but you still have to wait for it to drain out of the engine components since it had just run. The choice is yours.

replace drain plug and crush washer
Put a new crush washer on the drain plug and put it it back in the oil pan

You may choose to do this step before or after the oil filter. In either case, place a new crush washer or gasket on the drain bolt (if applicable, some bikes don’t require this). For crush washers, I prefer to use the copper washers that crush down as you seat the bolt. Hand thread the bolt back into the drain pan until finger tight. Then use tighten the bolt down with your socket. Use of a torque wrench is highly recommended and torque to factory specs.

remove oil filter
Remove the oil filter with an oil wrench

Remove the oil filter with an oil wrench. You can get adjustable oil wrenches for use with a socket wrench or fixed sized. Don’t use a spanner wrench as these are known to round off and crush the oil filters. There also isn’t much room to work, so the oil wrenches that go on the back of the oil filter are the best in my opinion. Make sure to turn it the right direction (lefty loosey)

oil draining from filter port
Let the oil drain until it comes to a slow drip

Let the oil drain from where the oil filter was. You should let it drain until it is a slow drip. Make sure the oil filter gasket did not remain in place as this will be a guaranteed leak if not removed.

lube gasket and threads
Lube the gasket and threads of the new oil filter

This is very important. Make sure you get some fresh clean oil and lube the gasket and threads of the new oil filter. This prevents leaking but also prevents the gasket from sticking to the motor and allows for easier removal in the future when you go to change the oil again.

Install new oil filter
Install the new oil filter

Install the new oil filter. By hand, find the center and align the threads and thread the new filter on. Make sure you do not cross-thread the filter. It should spin on easy. Screw on the filter until it is finger tight. For motorcycles, it is highly recommended to use the oil wrench and your torque wrench and tighten to factory specs. You may choose to hand tighten, but make sure to not over tighten and certainly not have it too loose. You want to spin it on until it is finger tight then give it about a quarter of a turn hand tight. Again – it is preferable to torque this down to factory specs rather than by feel. Once done, wipe everything down.

Fill with oil
Fill with oil

Now fill the bike with oil. You will want to refer to your owners manual to check what type of oil and how much. Usually there will be quantity with filter change, without and dry. You changed the oil filter, right? If not, go change the oil filter – always change it with an oil change. Then make sure you have the quantity of oil for with a filter change. Your manual may also indicate different grades of oil based on temperatures, so make sure your climate lines up with what you got and also make sure you get motorcycle oil. It is very important that you use motorcycle oil and not regular car/truck oil. Since your clutch is lubricated by the engine oil, there are special additives that are in motorcycle oil that are critical to the proper operation of the clutch. Take a funnel and fill up the engine with the specified quantity.

Check oil level after filling
Check the oil level after filling

You may have to refer to your owners manual, but typically there are two ways of checking the oil level in your motorcycle. You either check a sight class or a dip stick. In either case, you want to check that the oil is full, and in most cases it will read over full as oil has not been primed into the oil filter. As seen in the image above, the oil level is above the two marks meaning it is too full, but that is okay, because we have to run the bike yet. If it is reading low, you need to add more oil as it will be very low after the oil filter gets filled up. When checking oil, make sure your bike is perpendicular to the ground and not sitting on it’s kick stand. This is another reason bike stands or lift are useful. If you have a center stand that would work as well. Once your oil level is full or over full, start the bike and let it warm up.

Check the oil level in the sight glass

While running the bike, if you have a sight glass you may notice it drop completely from the sight glass. This is fine while running. Once you turn your bike off, wait five minutes then check the sight glass and the oil level will be at the final level. It should be between the two lines on a sight glass or in the markings on a dip stick. The best place is right in the middle of the markings. If this is the case, you are good to go and your oil change is complete. If it is too low, then add some more oil, start the bike for a bit, let it rest for five minutes and check again. Repeat as necessary. If the oil is too full, as in above the lines, you will need to drain some. This is a bit of a hassle, but the easiest way is to get a pump and pump it out of the fill port. You will loose too much via the drain plug or oil filter, and you will have to replace the crush washer if you had one with the drain plug. Always best to pump it out.

I performed an oil change on my 2021 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX and placed the tutorial on YouTube which you can watch here.

Hope this helps, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.