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Maintenance Schedule
and Pre-Winter service and/or storage. 
Included is a section on medium to quite long storage.
Originally was for 1983/1984 R100RT, now
includes items useful for all Airhead models.

copyright 2022, R. Fleischer

Section 1.  Introduction:

For my own motorcycles, I have printed their individual maintenance schedules, with a narrow left column being "interval" and wider the middle column being "work necessary" and the right (widest) column being "mileage/date done at, + notes".  In that original format I had typed it in 10pt size, & it just fit on 8-1/2 x 14 inch standard office-length paper. I kept the original master copy in digital format in my computer.  As needed 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, first making any necessary form changes. I kept past filled-up forms for future reference or future owner, in a folder in my filing cabinet, for each separate motorcycle. I keep receipts for parts, etc., purchased, in the same folder.  I do the same thing for every vehicle.  At one time I kept a written record, by mileage 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, but the original method will be fine for most of you.  However you do it, a printed and notated record is a good thing, and any future owner will want these records if you have them.  If I purchase a used motorcycle I try to obtain records from the seller "Since Brand New", and those records are kept for whomever purchases the motorcycle eventually from me.

The next owner will love having the records, and those records may add a fair amount of value to the motorcycle when you sell it.

I have another printed paper which I keep in the motorcycle records folder. It shows the specifications for the most 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 commonly done is easily available, and I don't have to use my memory.  This was exceptionally important with the collection of various antique bikes I once had.    You may want to considering having other "folders" for each bike, instead of just one folder.  Perhaps one for all bills and receipts pertinent to that bike.  Perhaps another  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 usually 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 that bike. When I was first getting into motorcycles, I was intense about paperwork, and I had written procedures for every type of maintenance. I still do a modest amount of that sort of thing, as I think I might need/want.

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 a job that is on my Scheduled Chores list.

If you own just one motorcycle, you might want to incorporate these typed/printed procedures into the regular maintenance folder.   I prefer one master folder, and a few subfolders, for each motorcycle.

For the purposes of this below Maintenance Schedule, and for simplicity, I have not tried to incorporate any servicing for any sidecar that might be attached.

Section 2.  Regular Maintenance:
Things on as-required-inspected basis; and, scheduled items:

Smart Charger or regular charger installed after rides & if required.
Inspect all lamps except in instrument pod for sagging filaments (they soon fail); check all lamps for operation.
Check battery in the multimeter in the tool kit on the motorcycle.
Check battery fluid level if the flooded/slosh type.
Replace any spare parts that were passed out at rallies, etc.
Pre-ride inspection ...which always includes engine oil level, tire pressures, & once-over look-see at all cables and their ends.
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 regularly). Lubricate CONTROL cables, both ends, with moly oil after every washing.   This means the clutch cable and carburetor cable end barrels at the carburetor.  DO NOT lubricate the speedometer nor other bowden type cables internally.
Monolever and Paralever bikes should have a hands-on check of the rear drive bearing wear, by trying to move the tire/wheel in and out, and trying to rock it angularly.  0.020" maximum at the rim.

Pre-tour inspection:
Everything I need for this trip? [Do you have a check list?].
Lubricate and inspect cable barrel ends; use 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.
Do an thorough check-over of the motorcycle; this may include checking many of the bolts/nuts, etc.  Check all nuts, bolts, screws that are relatively easy to get to. Do not forget the internal fairing bracket screws, and other peripherals.  Some are not easy to get to.
Check clutch sure the clutch lever adjustment nut at the transmission is not loose. INSPECT the clutch cable by viewing thoroughly, including from underneath, at the lever at the handlebars.  Replace a worn lever bushing.
Inspect tire condition (rotate to check every part of the tire during inspection). Check tire pressures and rear shock(s) settings and adjust for ride/conditions/passenger.
Battery load test and check terminals/connections (I do all at ~6 month intervals, but see below).

5K miles or approximately yearly:
Inspect speedometer cable boot located at right rear of transmission; see article 7B. 
Engine oil change. Engine oil for local & modest rides normally 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 earliest Airheads, oil filter changes ALWAYS include new O-rings, sometimes the steel shim(s) (upon inspection), always 4 new banjo bolt washers on cooler models.  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. If not totally stable, measure each time.  Check the ball-check valve in the filter chamber.
Dump, after inspecting carburetor float bowls contents.
Nuts and bolts check, everyplace I can get to without major disassembly.
Battery water level if using flooded style battery. Battery load test, no matter type of battery, at least yearly, better at 6 months.  KNOW how to interpret the battery load tester, for both output and rate of voltmeter lowering during the these add a lot of information.
Valve clearances, including checking end float at longer intervals.  Checking head bolt torque at valve clearance time is not a regular event after full break-in.
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.
Check clutch cable at bars & lube its barrel unless has a plastic insert. Check the LEVER at the bars for excessive updown/twist and that cable strands NOT rubbing, and that the cable barrel IS rotating.  Do you have spare cable as part of your tools, on the bike?
For the Bing CV carburetors, check enrichener 4 screws for tightness and gasket integrity.  Check actual fuel bowl level. Synchronize carburetors after minimum 10 mile ride.
Change all gear oils if doing a lot of short trip stop & go commuting, otherwise do it at 10K.

Front tire change:
ALWAYS a new tube if tube type.  If pre-1985, clean & 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 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. Every other tire change check the brake cam rod O-rings and lubrication.
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.]
Change transmission & rear drive oils, unless full synthetic (then 15K).   Changing the rear drive oil is particularly important on the Paralever and Monolever models.  If use is with heavy loads, high speeds, dusty environments, hot weather, I suggest not over 5K miles.

Yearly and/or Seasonal, typically done Pre-Winter, including Winter storage if done:
Extensive pre-winter work if so stored.  If not stored, the work should still be done, with minor changes to reflect that it remains in service and is not being stored.    Yearly work ALWAYS includes a very thorough tank cleaning; fuel screens cleaning; exhaust port finned nuts threads, etc. servicing; brake fluids bleeding until fluid is 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.
Obtain a can of engine fogging oil (preservative oil or other names sometimes).  Remove spark plugs, and fog the engine at BTDC and them again at TDC.   Use of fogging oil is to be done AFTER the engine oil is changed.  Leave the engine at TDC (OT mark(.

Check fork oil level; if dark and deteriorated, replace.
Change brake fluid, front ...via full bleeding until clear, and then somewhat more.  Idea is to fully flush the system during bleeding.
Change brake fluid, rear ...via full bleeding until clear, and then somewhat more.  Idea is to flush the system during bleeding.  Bleeder port for the rear brake must be vertical.
Clean fuel strainers in tank & petcocks & also service petcocks innards if getting stiff.  Clean & drain gas tank, let dry out. INSPECT tank innards with flashlight.  Carburetors emptied.
Inspect aftermarket fuel filters ...if at all questionable about fuel flow, measure, replace filters if poor.
Be sure Dairectory and MOA directory and registration and insurance papers are up to date & located on bike. Just when you do these things can be anytime during the year.
Service exhaust port finned nuts & internal rings with anti-seize, cleaning well first.
Unfasten front fork gaiters at tops of 'lowers'; inspect for leaks, water, etc.  Be mindful of nicks in the fork tubes, stone them, and if no gaiters, consider them.
Go over 100% of all electrical connections reasonably accessible/possible, inspecting for tightness, security, no corrosion.
REMOVE and lube shift linkage ball ends.
Clean/lube both ball ends & rack on hydraulic steering damper models.
Rotate engine to TDC.

Change oils, clean and thoroughly dry the bike. Lubricate the various cable barrels.  Inspect the clutch lever at the handlebars for excessive free play in its plastic bushing; and, for no interference of the cable and the lever slot, etc.  Check that the cable barrel does rotate smoothly as lever is actuated.  Check for same at the transmission end. 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 one Winter.  If storing over two, do thorough draining and surfaces treatments.  Fuel petcocks off. Battery Tender or, better, 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 do a very thorough check-over, including 100% nuts and bolts checks, etc.

DO NOT!!  start the bike during the 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 preparation and maintenance opportunity to seriously inspect and get to 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, but you might want to get the rubber off the ground.

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

Medium to very long term storage:
Combine all the above regarding Winter storage, as required/recommended.  
If the storage is exceptionally long (years), consider using engine and gearbox and rear drive oils that are specifically sold for this purpose. Be sure you have a good storage area.  Outside storage in the weather, with or without a cover, is NOT such a place...that includes most all 'sheds'.  The best storage area is likely inside a heated garage, or, even a room in your house.  Do NOT store the bike over heating vents, and do NOT use tarps unless absolutely necessary, as, wind will cause the tarp to flap-around-etc., and ruin your paint.   Remove tank bags, luggage, etc.   Be thorough in your work.  Consider everything.
Tires off the ground (that means off dirt, off asphalt, off concrete).  Be especially thorough about the final fogging, and at TDC (OT).
Moth balls in the headlight bucket, in electrics wiring areas, tailight, turn-signal lights, etc, to deter mice.   Spray a rather large amount of WD40 into the mufflers.  Put a stopper in the end of each muffler.  Be sure you do NOT use common preservative/treatment for the fuel tank....and, ABSOLUTELY do not have any fuel in the fuel tank!   Spray the inside of the fuel tank with a good preservative oil.   If you are quite anal about preserving the fuel tank, then drain it, and do a phosphoric acid (metal etching solution strength) overnight treatment; then try the tank, and then apply a fogging preservative oil to the inside.    It is a good idea to REMOVE the battery if it is lead-acid type.  If being stored for years, give the battery to a buddy.  DO NOT leave the battery on a 'Tender', unless you are sure, or want to take the chance, that extremely long storage will not damage the battery.


15K to 20K:
Monolever & Paralever bikes should have the output shaft & splines, & any U-joints checked.

All models:
Lube transmission input shaft splines [DON'T exceed 18K unless you KNOW will be OK].  Transmission input splines should be cleaned and relubricated at about 15,000 mile intervals for all models up to ~1993/1994, and thereafter at about twice that mileage for models after ~1993 which are nickle plated. 

Service swing arm bearings.
Visually check alternator brushes & that snail springs are not bottoming & check other wiring, diode board, etc.
Lube throttle twist assembly cam, gear teeth, etc.  Teeth condition OK?  Be sure marks line-up.
Replace spark plugs [15K-40K]; ohmmeter test wires & caps. 
Check 4 universal joint bolts at transmission flange [NO loosen first unless pulling the transmission] 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, and 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 (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.

2 to 3 years:
REMOVE 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 modules are not serviced.

4 to 7 years:
REPLACE battery based on both age and formal load testing.  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.  NOTE that when doing a load test, the fall-off VOLTAGE RATE OF CHANGE is important, not just the ampere load testing.  The voltage falloff test (~ after 5 seconds of the load) tells a lot about sulfation.

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 brake hoses regularly by FEEL, under hard lever pressure. NO bulging, but some straightening from the pressure is OK.
NOTE:  NEVER EVER hang the calipers without do NOT want to sharply bend the hoses!

REPLACE carburetor diaphragms during carburetor overhaul.
Overhaul front forks....usually mostly cleaning & 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.

80K to 100K??
REPLACE timing chain & guide, oil relief spring, latest version tensioner/guide, etc. Possibly one or both sprockets.
Compression leak-down test; possible valve job, including valve guides, top end decoking, possibly piston rings, etc. 
Overhaul starter motor.
Overhaul transmission.


1.  NO control cable, except the ACTUAL ORIGINAL (AS SHIPPED ON A BRAND NEW /5),  is to be internally lubricated.  The replaceable clutch lever pivot bushing is plastic, and is not to be lubricated. 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 and handlebars-located clutch levers.   Be sure the clutch lever at the handlebars does NOT have excessive UP AND DOWN TWISTING 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 arguably one of the best contact treatments is Caig Laboratories "DeOxit".  Clean to  shiny before assembly. After that 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, OK to grease them very lightly).  Check my chemicals, etc., article for further contact treatment options.

3.  Check ALL GROUNDING WIRES nuts/bolts and that includes the one at the frame at the ignition coils (and sometimes horn) area. Check battery cable ends and appearance of the plastic/rubber covering for at least 2 inches from the battery.  Be thorough, not just a quick glance.

4.  The exhaust system, whenever apart, should be installed with anti-seize compound wherever things fit together. This means the header pipe joining areas, muffler joining areas, as well as the very 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.   If the finned nut 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 a correct finned wrench.  You will be quite unhappy if you do not do this maintenance regularly. Never oil the threads for assembly ...oil will slowly 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.  I have an entire article on how to deal with these:

5.  Some models may require special service, or shortened intervals.  Paralever models require checking U-joints and transmission output regularly; Monolever's and Paralevers need the rear wheel drive bearing checked for free play. I recommend checking the rear wheel on single-sided models (Monolever and Paralever) OFTEN for amount of feelable play, tire/wheel not touching the ground.  Hands to 9:00 and 3:00; or, 12:00 and 6:00; push-pull angularly; and again in-out.  0.020" max movement at the rim is BMW's spec.

6.  Once:  Remove, during a regular oil change, the pan, oilscreen, pickup. Clean, replace gaskets, tighten things, etc. Will not be needed again until engine overhaul.  Include an inspection for cracks on the pickup & boss.  Use Loctite medium strength blue on internal bolts for oil pickup fitments. New gasket(s).   I have an article on the details:


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:   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.
02/18/2018:   Complete re-do of entire article, including layout, reduction in html, colors, fonts, links.  Re-work information so flow is better, details improved, etc.
04/06/2018:   Minor changes to rear drive/wheel/tire play testing....and recommendations on oil change for the rear drive.
04/29/2019:   Cleanup some.
10/11/2020:   Update.
12/16/2022:   Moved sections on storage to this article (from Viscosity article 51D, etc.), and brought it up to date and greatly expanded it.

copyright 2022, R. Fleischer

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Last check/edit: Friday, December 16, 2022