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What’s the difference between a minor and a major motorcycle service?

All motorbikes have service intervals to keep them running and as reliable as the day they rolled off the showroom floor. If you stick to your service intervals, your motorbike will be good for an easy 50,000 miles and we’ve even seen a few with 100,000 miles on the clock.

However us bikers are funny when it comes to mileage. We turn our noses up at bikes that have been well used. That’s probably because, with the average UK mileage at around 2,500 miles a year, we can afford to be picky.

It’s your legal duty to ensure your motorcycle is properly maintained and isn’t a hazard to yourself, your pillion or other road users.

Table of Contents

What’s involved in a minor service?

Interim motorcycle service checklist

A minor service (sometimes called an interim service) is a simple service, where the main focus is on checking the fluids.

A minor service should include the following:

  • Change the engine oil and oil filter
  • Check brake fluid levels and top up if required
  • Check the brake pads, advise owner if they need replacing
  • Lubricate the chain and adjust if necessary
  • Check your motorcycle’s tyre pressures
  • Check headlight and brake light

What’s involved in a major service?

A major service (sometimes called a full service) is more involved and will require the engine to be inspected and some parts to be adjusted.

Full motorcycle service checklist

A major service will include everything in a minor service and:

  • New air filter
  • Clutch oil filter (if applicable)
  • Clutch fluid replaced
  • Brake calipers removed and cleaned
  • Brake fluid replaced
  • Adjustment of throttle and brake cables
  • Front and rear suspension checked for play and wear
  • Battery performance checked
  • Wheel bearings checked
  • Headrace (headstock) bearings checked
  • Valve clearances checked and adjusted
  • Replace radiator coolant
  • Check all fasteners are correctly torqued

What are motorcycle service intervals?

For years it was quite simple: a minor service was due at 4,000 miles and a major service at 12,000 miles. However, that all changed and it could have been down to those clever folks at Ducati.

Noting the fact that machining tolerances were far more accurate and that improved technology meant components were stronger and oils included additives to keep them functioning as required, Ducati increased their service intervals to 7,500 miles for a minor service and 15,000 for a major service.

This made the 4,000 and 8,000 of most Japanese manufacturers look weak in comparison. So they duly responded and now, for most motorcycles, the minor service is around the 8,000 mile mark and the major at around 16,000. Hooray for Ducati.

It’s worth noting most manufacturers also advise you to have your bike serviced every 12 months regardless. At certain major motorcycle service intervals, manufacturers will specify that some major components are replaced, from cam chains to belts. Aprilia’s Mana needs new belts and rollers every 12,000 miles at the cost of around £850 – that will soon add-up.

Motorcycle service price list

As ever, prices will vary depending on your location, a city-centre dealer will have higher overheads. A main dealer will be more expensive than an independent. The type of bike you own dictates how involved a major service will be due to the parts required and the time required to fit them.

Here is a rough guide to servicing prices:

Motorcycle minor service prices

Below 250cc: £40 – £80
251cc – 800cc: £50 – £120
800cc and over: around £120

Motorcycle full service prices

Below 250cc: £80 – £150
251cc – 800cc: £150 – £250
800cc and over: around £350

Motorcycle fixed price service plans

Some manufacturers, like Honda, have introduced a fixed-price service plan. This has been popular in the car world for years.

The plan is priced according to the engine capacity of your motorcycles or scooter and will transfer to the new owner should you sell the bike with the plan still current.

The plans cover 3 services and lasts for 27-months from the date the bike is first registered. The plan costs are as follows:

Up to 250cc: £375
251cc – 800cc: £599
800cc and over: £675

The plans are a one-off upfront payment and can be added to your finance package. They offer peace of mind and can also help your bike’s resale value.

What happens in I miss a motorcycle service?

If you’re a few hundred or even a couple of thousand miles out on your service, the bike won’t fall apart. You might reasonably expect there to be a bit more wear and tear (for example, that’s an extra 2,000 miles of dirty oil being used to lubricate those hard-working pistons) but your bike isn’t going to fall apart.

We’ve heard stories of bikers who’ve run their bikes for 30,000 mile and only changing the oil and filter at home. While we wouldn’t recommend it, that proves how well motorcycle engines are made these days.

The main issue with missing a service is resale value. You wouldn’t want to buy a bike that had been serviced late every time or missed its services completely – so you’ll move on to another seller.

When it comes to trading in your bike with a dealer, if it doesn’t have a good service history, they won’t want to know – so be prepared to be offered an appallingly low part-exchange valuation.

Are Ducatis more expensive to service?

A Ducati can be more expensive to service than a Japanese counterpart but probably no more expensive than other European marques.

Firstly your Ducati dealer’s labour charges might be a touch more expensive per hour but it varies between dealerships.

However the main reason behind the reputation is that your Ducati may need a belt change at 15,000 miles and it is the cost of the belts that adds to the servicing cost.

Expect to pay around £200+VAT for a minor (interim or annual) service and around £750 for a major service.

Unfortunately for Ducati, they struggle to shake their reputation of being unreliable and expensive but for years they’ve been anything but. Their reliability is right up there. Don’t be too put off by people telling you Ducati’s are expensive to run – after all, the naysayers need a good excuse as to why they can’t afford one!

Questions or Comments?

If you’ve got a question about this article and you need a bit more guidance, drop a comment below and we’ll get back to you.

Likewise, if you’ve got something to add to this article or an experience you’d like to share, let’s hear it!

We love reading your comments and helping our readers.

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