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Maintenance Schedule
and Pre-Winter service/storage too.
Originally was for 1983/1984 R100RT,
NOW includes items useful for other Airhead models

copyright, 2013, R. Fleischer

Here are a few things to think about for that end of season, perhaps Pre-Winter maintenance/storage:
Change oils, change brake fluids, clean and thoroughly dry the bike.
Lubricate the various cable barrels.
Draining the tank is preferable ....or at least install a proper dose of fuel preservative and be sure it mixes, then run some of that fuel into the carburetors, do a final ride; or drain them.   If you use a fuel stabilizer such as Sta-Bil, it works best if you have ~95%+ filled tank (with gasoline) before you add the Sta-Bil, and same ~~ level, when the motorcycle is put into storage.  Sta-Bil has several treatment types, one is formulated for more vapor action, and will work a bit better on protecting the inside of your tank.  Use a DOUBLE dose if storing longer than 1 Winter.  If storing over 2, do draining and surfaces treatments.
Fuel petcocks off.
Battery Tender or scheduled re-charging. Interval recharging is best for longest possible battery life. Watch battery level if the flooded type. BEST NOT to leave a Battery Tender (or other Smart Charger) connected and powered all the time ...that CAN injure most types of batteries, contrary to the charger maker's advice .......> but far better than not charging at all IF the battery discharges more than 10 or 20%.

If stored outdoors, be very cautious about the wind causing your bike cover to flap, that will damage your paint job. I usually did a very thorough check-over, including 100% nuts and bolts checks, etc.

start the bike during the Winter storage period, unless you are going for an actual ride, or actually working on the engine & need to start it. I usually take the Pre-Winter opportunity to seriously inspect everything ...wiring, lamp filaments for sagging, any delayed servicing, etc.  I don't bother to block the bike up off the tires, unless it has old-style nylon cord tires.

Many Winters I stored the bike, some I did not.  I do the Pre-Winter storage often enough, that I 'get to' all the electrical plugs & connections for inspection, clean, treatment, at least every 3 years.  

For my own bikes, I have printed their individual maintenance schedules in a type of FORM, with the left column being "interval" and the middle column being "work necessary" and the right column being "mileage/date done at, + notes".  In that original format I had typed it in 10pt size, & it just fit on an 8-1/2 x 14 inch standard paper. I printed the form & then I penciled-in the date/mileage of each item being completed.   I used the form until no area for penciling-in was left, then I reprinted it from my master copy in my computer, first making form changes if required. I keep past forms for future reference or future owner.  At one time I kept a written record, by mile and date, on the backside of these forms, of things not listed on the front side, or things that needed explanation.  I did that for many years.  Now I use a separate paper record.

I have one other printed paper. It shows the specifications for the important items, everything from tire pressures to timing, valve settings, torques, oil amounts, ETC.  In this manner, almost all the information usually needed for most anything is available quickly; in the folder where I keep that particular bike's information.  I have two other folders for each bike.  One is for all bills and receipts pertinent for that bike.  The other folder has special details, sketches, etc.  For instance, if I install a special alternator, that is noted in the paper record of "non-scheduled maintenance", but the nerdy details are, or may be, in the other folder.      BTW...I have a small piece of paper in the window of my tank bags, that shows the tire pressures I like for the bike. 

I have step-by-step printed procedures for certain jobs: wheel bearing preload checks, clutch spline service, steering head bearing cleaning & re-greasing, etc. Having these allows me, without much special thought needed, to just to grab the necessary tools and/or parts, & do the job that is on my Scheduled chores list, already mentioned.   If you own just one bike, you might want to incorporate these typed/printed procedures into the regular maintenance folder.

What follows, below, is fairly generic for Airheads.  There are some NOTES at the end.

Minor adjustments & checks & some things on as required/inspected basis
Smart Charger or regular charger installed after any ride required.
Inspect all lamps, except in instrument pod, for sagging filaments and operation.
Check battery in the multimeter in the tool kit.
Replace any parts that were passed out at rallies, etc.
Pre-ride inspection...which always includes oil levels and tire pressures, and once-over look-see at cables, ETC.
Pre-long-tour inspection [extensive]
Have the clothing, cooking, ETC.  items I need for this trip? [check list]
Cleaning, washing, waxing, detailing, etc.   DO NOT get water into the speedometer cable hollow bolt area, or the associated rubber boot, both at the right rear of the transmission (INSPECT that rubber boot).
REoil cable barrel ends, with MOS2-containing oil, after EVERY washing. Inspect cable ends for fraying & lubrication.
Check oil levels in engine, transmission, driveshaft housing (if oil containing type), rear drive.
Check all nuts, bolts, screws.
Check clutch adjustment.
Check tire pressures and rear shock(s) settings adjust for ride/conditions/passenger

5K miles or yearly, approx:
INSPECT speedometer cable boot located at right rear of transmission; see article 7B. 
Engine oil change. Engine oil for local & modest rides should NORMALLY be changed at 1 year maximum & 5,000 miles maximum, if a quality oil like Golden Spectro is used. Possibly add 2,000 or 3,000 depending on conditions & if full synthetics are used. For mostly short rides, around town, commuting, stop & go:  change oil at ~3500 miles.
Genuine BMW oil filters changed at every other oil change.  Except for non-cooler early Airheads, oil filter changes ALWAYS include new O-rings, sometimes the steel shim(s) (upon inspection), always 4 new banjo bolt washers.  Always pry off the metal ends of the used filter, unroll it, & inspect all paper pleats, on both sides.
I may, at this time, MEASURE the depth of the later style canister, recording what I find.
Dump carburetor float bowls contents.
Nuts and bolts check, everyplace.
Battery water level if using flooded style battery. Battery load test, no matter type of battery.
Valve clearances, including checking end float.
Points bikes: check points, lubrication of points cam, ATU check on pre-1979; check ignition timing at F or Z.  Check how advance (ATU) mechanism is working, from idle to over 3000 rpm, using strobe light aimed at timing marks.

5K to 10K:  
Check clutch cable at bars. Lube barrel. Check the LEVER at the bars for excessive updown/twist and that cable strands NOT rubbing, and that the barrel IS rotating.
Check enrichener 4 screws first for tightness.  Check actual fuel bowl level. Synchronize carburetors after min. 15 mile ride. 
Change all gear oils if doing a lot of short trip stop & go commuting.

Seasonal, typically done Pre-Winter:
Extensive pre-winter work per separate list.  It ALWAYS includes a very thorough tank cleaning; fuel screens cleaning; exhaust port finned nuts servicing; brake fluids bleeding until fluid is very clean & clear; load test battery if not already done; inspect brake pads; lubricate swing arm bearings; and use Smart Charger during storage (best to be not continuously); trickle charger is OK if not left on excessively.  Check fork oil level.  
See YEARLY, below.

Front tire change:
ALWAYS a new tube if tube type.  If pre-1985, clean and grease bearings (otherwise at least feel bearing rotation for smoothness).  Check preload if pre-1985 at least every second tire.
New seals if pre-1985.  Balance the new wheel/tire (anal types might want to recheck after a few hundred miles).
Check brake linings or pads for thickness, dragging, and dry lube on the two pins.

Rear tire change: 
ALWAYS a new tube if tube type. Clean/grease bearings if pre-1985 & not Monolever or Paralever.  Balance wheel/tire. On twin shock models  clean and re-grease rear wheel cup splines AFTER checking for condition of rivets and checking splines wear on cup and drive.  Check preload & new seals at least every other tire if pre-1985 (check wheel play if Monolever or Paralever type).
Check brake linings or pads for thickness, dragging, and dry lube on the two pins.
Inspect rear brake switch & rear brake pedal adjustment.  Lubricate pedal and linkage.
Adjust swing arm; grease through pin adjustors.

Clean air cleaner.  REPLACE air filter upon condition [usually 30K max, sometimes can go to 50K]
Change transmission & rear drive oils, unless full synthetic (then 15K).

Monolever & Paralever bikes should have the output shaft & splines, & any U-joints checked.
Lube transmission input shaft splines [DON'T exceed 18K unless you KNOW will be OK]
Visually check alternator brushes & that snail springs not bottoming, wiring, diode board.

Yearly (unless done at a pre-winter service):
Change brake fluid, front...via full bleeding until clear, and then a bit more.  Idea is to flush system during bleeding.
Change brake fluid, rear...via full bleeding until clear, and then a bit more.  Idea is to flush system during bleeding.  Bleeder must be vertical.
Clean fuel strainers in tank & below & also service petcocks if getting stiff.  Clean & drain gas tank, let dry out. INSPECT tank innards with flashlight.
Inspect any aftermarket fuel filters.
Be sure Dairectory and MOA directory and registration and insurance papers are up to date & located on bike.
Service exhaust port finned nuts & internal rings with anti-seize, cleaning well first (see bottom of this article).
Unfasten front fork gaiters at tops of 'lowers'; inspect for leaks, water, etc.
Go over 100% of all electrical connections, inspecting for tightness, security, no corrosion.
REMOVE and lube shift linkage ball ends.
Clean/lube both ball ends & rack on hydraulic steering damper models.

Inspect enrichener gasket at carburetors, not being sucked-in? Tighten 4 enrichener screws on each carburetor.
Lube throttle twist assembly cam, gear teeth, etc.  Be sure marks line-up.
REPLACE spark plugs [15K-30K]; test wires & caps. 
MOVE OR REMOVE rear swing arm backwards far enough to remove & service swing arm bearings.   Arrange to do this job at same time the input splines are cleaned/lubricated & other pertinent servicing work.
CHECK 4 universal joint bolts at transmission flange [NO loosen first] 29 ftlbs.
REMOVE, clean & lube the following:
     At rear of transmission: clutch lever bush/bearing; & inspect throwout bearing parts (oil them when re-installing).
     Clutch lever assembly at bars (check for wear on lever Nylon bushing too, do NOT oil it).
     Enrichener control assembly at bars.
     Brake lever at bars and check how mates to brake switch.
     Rear brake foot lever assembly/bolt/bush [best to do on most models when swing arm removed].
Change fork oil [2 years max].
Replace aftermarket paper type fuel filters; cleanable sintered types?
Service any leading link if installed.
Service, if sidecar installed, the sidecar wheel bearings/seals/pivot/etc.

SERVICE (clean, lube, adjust) steering head bearings. 
REPLACE carburetor floats if stock original type of floats.   Always replace float needles at same time.
REPLACE carburetor slide needles if aluminum type.

3 years:
REMOVE any ignition module under the gas tank, clean, use fresh silicone Heat Sink Grease, Dow Corning type DC340 (2 years if cheaper type of greases).  Riveted types are not to be done.

4 years ?
REPLACE battery if Panasonic or other AGM/VRLA types (generally 4-5 years for flooded types; Odysseys can go 4-7 years).  If Load Tester determines an excellent battery, extend another 6 months, and re-test.  Battery can be used, if load tested at 6 months intervals, until TESTED performance falls off towards the POOR area of the meter.

15-20 years:
Replace rubber brake hoses & grommets ...depends on where stored, how treated by rider.  Could be oftener, and could be twice that time!  TEST these hoses regularly by FEEL, under hard lever pressure. NO bulging, but some straightening from the pressure is OK.

REPLACE carburetor diaphragms during carburetor overhaul.

Remove, during a regular oil change: pan, oilscreen, pickup. Clean, replace gaskets. Will not be needed again until engine overhaul. Some models require inspection for cracks on the pickup & boss.  Use Loctite blue on bolts for oil screen fitments.

80K ? :
Upon tests and condition;  REPLACE timing chain & guide, oil relief spring, latest version tensioner, ETC. Possibly one or both sprockets.
Upon tests and condition such as compression leak-down test:  Valve job, including valve guides, top end decoking, possibly piston rings, etc. 
Overhaul starter motor.
Upon tests and condition; Overhaul transmission [depends on condition/operation/drain plug magnet indication, ETC;...could be as long as 150K]
Overhaul front forks.  Usually mostly cleaning and new bumpers, etc.  This can be needed sooner, depending on age and type of usage.
Replace all cables.  Keep old ones, if still OK, as emergency on-bike items.


(1)  NO cable, except the ORIGINAL AS SHIPPED ON A BRAND NEW /5,  is to be internally lubricated.  The bars clutch lever pivot is nylon, do not lubricate. DO lubricate ALL cable barrel ends, OFTEN!!  Barrel ends MUST rotate smoothly as the lever is moved.  That INCLUDES the barrel end at the transmission-located clutch lever.   Be sure the clutch bars lever does NOT have excessive UP AND DOWN ANGULAR movement, if so, replace the pivot nylon bushing be sure that the slot in the lever does not foul the cable strands!  AVOID bending the left throttle cable when checking the crankcase oil level via the dipstick.

(2)  Electrical contacts can be treated with a silicone lubricant with acts as a protectant, but the BEST is Caig Laboratories DeOxit.  Clean to  shiny before assembly. AFTER Caig treatment, Caig has a product for final treatment; but, silicone grease is OK ("dielectric grease"), but I recommend not getting grease into the bottom of the ignition coil towers (for inside of rubber covers, grease them veru lightly).

(3)  Check ALL GROUNDING WIRES nuts/bolts; check battery cable ends and appearance of the plastic/rubber covering for at least 2 inches from the battery...all, VERY carefully, especially the  + cable.

(4)  The exhaust system SHOULD be installed with antiseize compound WHEREVER things fit together. This means the header pipe joining areas, muffler joining areas, as well as the all-IMPORTANT exhaust port FINNED NUTS at the cylinder head. The split exhaust ring goes to the head, flat side faces head; the solid collar fits into the finned nut, and the flat end faces the nut surface: the 2 slanted, tapered, surfaces face each other.   Exhaust port finned nuts should be unscrewed and brush-cleaned (toothbrush or better is a brass bristled brush) & gooped with anti-seize compound every year or two, without fail!  If you do lots of short trips, do them for sure yearly.  It is the number of heat/cooling cycles that mostly determines how often....but also time/mileage.  NEVER EVER continue unscrewing the nut if it suddenly starts to seize.  
 Cut it off, without damaging the threads ...the finned nuts are cheap, repairs to head threads expensive.   Multiple soakings of some sort of oily solvent, reapplied daily for a few days, may help to loosen the carbon or galling.   Heating & allowing the thin lubricant to be sucked into the threads during cooling, may help.    Gooped (anti-seize compound) exhaust port finned-nuts should be first screwed on using your hand ...and THEN the CORRECT FINNED wrench.  You WILL BE VERY SORRY if you do not do this maintenance regularly. NEVER EVER oil the threads for assembly ...oil will carbon-up and cause the nuts to seize.  Do NOT over-tighten the exhaust nuts.  I do NOT tighten them as tight as BMW says.

(5)  Some models may require special service, or shortened intervals.  Paralever models require checking U-joints and transmission output regularly; monolever's require input to rear drive lubricated, etc.   I recommend checking rear wheel on single-sided models (Monolever and Paralever) OFTEN for amount of feelable play.


01/04/2005:   Fully updated with all prior revisions
10/29/2010:   Slight updates on NOTES section.
04/19/2012:   MINOR CLEANUP
10/10/2012:   Add QR code; add language button; update Google Ad-Sense code; update the article.
2013: remove language button, minor other changes.
09/20/2013:   Minor updates, clarifications.
09/30/2014:   final update on oil mileage recommendations, engine, gearbox, rear drive, pre-Winter info.
05/03/2015:   Minor clarifications and additions and updated a bit 07/25/2015
11/16/2015:   Minor changes.
01/02/2016:   Re-do for narrower screens. Changes and additions.  Meta-codes updating.
03/06/2016:   Update meta-codes.  Justification to left.  Layout changes.
09/02/2016:   Update metacodes, scripts, H.L., layout, fonts.  Edit information to cover more models, improve clarity, fix redundancy entries, proper miles/time.
11/11/2016:   Add a bit more to the Sta-Bil, etc., advice.

copyright, 2013, R. Fleischer

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Last check/edit: Monday, January 15, 2018