Bike Service- Self vs professional- tips, pros and cons - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Bike Service- Self vs professional- tips, pros and cons

Bikes and cars need regular maintenance. We often take the vehicles to authorized service centers which is a common practice because we don't have time, skills or don't want to get our hands dirty. Service centers often do a good job in performing essential maintenance but they also charge a reasonable fee on top of spares and consumables used.

Some basic service can be done at home also. It is very satisfying to service our bikes on our own. It also saves several hundred rupees spent on service/labor charges. Recently I serviced my bike myself for the first time. So far I had always taken it to authorized service centers. Below are some pros and cons of servicing your bike yourself.

Professional Service at authorized centre
Self Service
High (INR 500-1000 + GST for most bikes in labour charge + consumables extra
Cost of consumables only
 + Time and effort to get them
Quality and Efficiency
High, due to precision tools, skilled workers
Moderate. We may not have all the tools and facilities at home
Possible services on a bike
1. Oil and Oil filter change
2. Chain cleaning  and lube
3. Carburetor Cleaning
4. Air Filter cleaning
5. Disc brake fluid top up
6. Generic cleaning and greasing
7.Tyre Pressure
8. Broken part replacement
9. High pressure water wash
10. Polish
11. Wheel alignment (optional extra)
12. Engine check and tuning
13. Free spare replacement if under warranty
Doable with ease
1. Oil and Oil filter change
2. Chain cleaning  and lube
3. Air Filter cleaning
4. Disc brake fluid top up
5. Generic cleaning and greasing
6. Normal water wash
7. Polish

Little difficult at home (need tools, spares and know how)

1. Carburetor Cleaning
2. Broken part replacement
3.Tyre Pressure
4. High pressure water wash
5. Engine check and tuning

Very difficult
1. Warranty Claim
2. Wheel alignment
Not common but there’s a risk of staff using fake/old spares, unwanted but profitable replacements, poor quality work or intentionally inducing a new fault hoping for more business in future.
-Risk of damaging some parts
-Less efficient work due to non availability of professional tools or expertise
-Some fluids are carcinogenic (can cause cancer) or could be corrosive. Need to handle with precaution.
- Self injury if not careful enough
Time taken
Usually needs a full day- handover in morning, collect by evening
Probably an hour to go buy consumables
About 1-2 hours of work
Good if you can trust the service center and job is well done
High as you’ve done it yourself to your satisfaction


If you've decided to try servicing your bike yourself, below is a quick guide.
Activity 1: Air Filter Cleaning
Tools needed: Philips screw driver, clean water
Complexity: Very easy
This is the easiest thing to do. Open the cover on the side, remove the screws and air filter is now accessible. Take out the foam lining, wash it nicely in water or kerosene, let it dry and insert again. Ensure that there's no other foreign particles inside the air filter. (example fraction of a leave).

Activity 2: Engine Oil Change
-Tools needed: New Engine Oil as per specification, new oil filter, spanners as per specification (17 mm for main oil drain bolt and 8 mm for oil filter cover), oil pan, waste cloths, funnel.
-Complexity: Moderate
  • Ensure engine is warm. Ride it around for 4-5 kms. This is because if Engine is warm oil will be warm and will drain out easily. If Engine is cold oil will be more sticky.
  • Ensure you've all the tools. Half way through the process your bike won't be in running condition so you can neither go to market to get new stuff, nor to service centre if you mess up
  • Ensure all the nuts and bolts are loose. At times some bolts get too tight and do not move. So you need to try a more efficient tool (like a T spanner instead of conventional one) or put some cleaning fluid and try later or be ready to use more brute force.
  • Ensure you've a container that is large enough to collect oil from your engine (if it takes 1 litre, putting a smaller container will result in over-spill)
  • If not very confident watch some videos on youtube and understand the process well.
  • Understand in which direction to rotate a spanner. Rotating in wrong direction and applying more than required torque can break stuff.
-Changing the oil:
  • Put bike on centre stand. Place a pan/container under the oil drain bolt
  • Unscrew the drain bolt and let the oil drain out into the pan
  • Unscrew oil filter cover, remove old oil filter and replace with new one. Clean the housing and close the cover.
  • Refit the oil drain bolt. Tighten it just as much as required. Warning: Don't pour new oil without this step else you will loose new oil)
  • Remove oil cap. Use cutting player if not able to rotate with hand. Pay attention to direction of rotation
  • Use funnel and pour new engine oil.
  • Refit the Engine oil cap.
  • Clean the area or keep the bike in new position, monitor for an hour. If you see fresh oil drops on the floor then oil drain cap is loose. Tighten it.
  • Ride around to your satisfaction to confirm everything is fine.
  • Dispose off old oil responsibly.

Activity 3: Cleaning the chain
-Tools needed: Chain Cleaner and Chain Lube (these are two separate things), an old brush, tools to remove screws
-Complexity: Moderate
  • Put bike in neutral, put it on centre stand
  • Remove chain housing cover. Process may vary depending on bike. You might have to remove some other parts nearby to be able to remove this part
  • Spray chain cleaning fluid. You can use commercially available ones (costs about 250 Rs per bottle) or use kerosene, a cheap and very efficient cleaner)
  • Remove large quantities of dirt, grease using a stick or brush or any tool
  • Spray cleaning fluid on the gear and chain assembly, while rotating the wheel. Use an old brush to clean the setup further. Spray on the side, on the center. Similarly clean rear sprocket.
  • Check play on the chain, It if it is too loose you've to tighten it, which is a separate process-bit effort intensive.
  • Once clean, now spray chain lube.
  • Chain and Chain Sprocket typically lasts 25000-30000 kms if well maintained. After that better to change it for safety, particularly if usage is heavy.
Other basic checks we can do
- Brakes are tight or have got too much play?
- Batteries do not need maintenance these days, but opening the case and a bit of cleaning helps
- Under seat cleaning/water wash.
- Spark Plug cleaning.

Before removing a part take a photo. Will help if you face confusion how to refit or exact position/orientation. Similarly direction of rotation matters.

When I planned to service my bike I faced following challenges
1. Oil drain bolt was difficult to remove with 17 mm spanner that came with bike. Had to buy a more professional L spanner (INR 183)
2. Similarly there was no 8 mm spanner in tool kit-one of the oil filter cap screw wasn't moving with conventional 8 mm spanner. Had to buy a T spanner (100 Rs)
3. Oil cap was too tight- needed cutting player.

Costed me about INR 500 Rs in tools (I can reuse), INR 600 in consumables- oil & oil filter as well as chain cleaning fluid.

Your thoughts?


  1. Appreciate the efforts in moving towards #ATMANIRBHAR and also helping others to go the same way

  2. helpful informative post thanks for sharing

  3. Though a good attempt , I feel its not worth the money and effort every time as we do it only 2-3 times in a year, better to do with professionals. I appreciate your enthusiasm and effort.


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