The 600-Mile Service

You've probably faced the dilemma of the 600-mile service. All new bikes need to have this service performed, according to scripture, in order to ensure the newly formed engine lives a long, happy life. But the question is by whom? Do you perform the 600-mile service on your own or take the bike to the dealer?

Your answer depends on your level of mechanical skill, of course, but also according to the kind of bike you own. More exotic bikes (and a few domestics) have fairly involved first-service requirements. For example, we'd recommend that if your bike says BMW or Ducati on the tank you let the dealer fuss with it. (Especially if this is the first of the brand that you've owned.) Also, because the resale value of high-end bikes is more likely to be influenced by documented, dealer-performed service, we argue that spending a little now will protect your investment later.

For the average Japanese sportbike, however, there's not much value in having this kind of documentation, so we say, "Dig in." Oh, one word about the legalities before we get started. Your warranty is valid if you do the first service yourself, so don't fall for your dealer's scare tactics on this point. You should, however, keep the receipts for the oil and filter to prove you at least did something to the bike at 600 miles.

To get started you'll need a service manual. First, bring the bike up to operating temperature, roll it into your garage and carefully remove the fairing and tank (1). Since this is likely to be the first time you've stripped your loved one (the bike, that is), be careful to keep track of where each fastener was removed and organize them in paper cups or a stolen muffin pan. Once the bodywork is off, remove the oil filter and drain the oil (2). If you do nothing else at the 600-mile mark, at least change the oil. A new engine sheds a surprising amount of metal early in life and you'll want that junk out of there.

For the next step, confer with the Periodic Maintenance Chart that should be in the owner's manual. Some models call for a valve-lash inspection at the first interval, and some don't. Either way, do what the manual recommends. Usually, checking valve-lash is required for air-cooled engines with screw-and-locknut valve adjustments, newer engines typically do not need an initial valve-clearance inspection. If you've got the time and the inclination, go ahead and check the valves on your R6, but know there's a 99 percent chance that you won't find anything that needs adjustment.

After the oil and valves have been taken care of, the remainder of the "service" deals with checking the torque on critical fasteners under the catch-all heading of "chassis bolts and nuts." Be sure to check the swingarm pivot (3), exhaust headers (4), pipe mounts and muffler bolts. If your bike has motor mounts like this (5), just check the torque on the center fastener. The secondary fastener, for which you'll need a special tool, is used to align the engine to the frame; unless there's a visible gap between this shim and the engine/frame just leave it alone. Continue system-by-system through the bike, checking the hardware on the steering, brakes (6), axles and pinch bolts, driveline (7), footpeg and handlebar mounts, and so on.

At the initial service, it's likely you'll need to adjust cable freeplay. If necessary, use the inline adjusters (8). Also, have a look at the brake fluid reservoirs (9) and, before you button it all up, take a slow look around the engine bay for chafing or kinked wires and hoses, evidence of fluid leaks and, well, just to admire the thing. Clean up, spin on the new filter, add oil and your bike is ready to roost.

Since this is likely to be the first time you've stripped your loved one (the bike, that is), be careful to keep track of where each fastener was removed and organize them in paper cups or a stolen muffin pan.
Once the bodywork is off, remove the oil filter and drain the oil. If you do nothing else at the 600-mile mark, at least change the oil. A new engine sheds a surprising amount of metal early in life and you'll want that junk out of there.
After the oil and valves have been taken care of, the remainder of the "service" deals with checking the torque on critical fasteners under the catch-all heading of "chassis bolts and nuts." Be sure to check the swingarm pivot.
Exhaust headers, pipe mounts and muffler bolts should also be checked.
If your bike has motor mounts like this, just check the torque on the center fastener. The secondary fastener, for which you'll need a special tool, is used to align the engine to the frame; unless there's a visible gap between this shim and the engine/frame just leave it alone.
Continue system-by-system through the bike, checking the hardware on the steering and brakes.
Also check the axles and pinch bolts, driveline, footpeg and handlebar mounts, and so on.
At the initial service, it's likely you'll need to adjust cable freeplay. If necessary, use the inline adjusters.
Also, have a look at the brake fluid reservoirs and, before you button it all up, take a slow look around the engine bay for chafing or kinked wires and hoses, evidence of fluid leaks and, well, just to admire the thing.