A motorcycle is a beautiful thing. It’s a high-performance vehicle that allows riders to enjoy the open air and unobstructed views. It’s like no other vehicle on the planet. And now, you have one of your very own.

But, as a motorcycle owner, you need to be smart. A motorcycle can be a dangerous thing, and it’s only going to be high-performing and appropriately safe if you take the time and effort to take care of it. Without proper maintenance, your motorcycle can quickly become less enjoyable and, eventually, become a real danger to you (not to mention a real money-sink!). But don’t worry, here are a few basic components to caring for your motorcycle, now and in the years to come.

Go easy on your bike

For starters, don’t go too crazy with a brand-new bike. During the “breaking-in period” — the first 500 to 1,000 miles, give or take — go easy on your bike by using only three quarters of the throttle at any given time. Once the bike is broken in, you can open her up all the way. Experts believe that breaking in a bike like this can leave you with a better-performing, longer-lasting, and more fuel efficient motorcycle.

Even once you’re clear of the breaking-in period, you may want to avoid things like sharp turns, hard braking, and abrupt acceleration. These sorts of strenuous tasks take a toll on your bike and can cause it to age prematurely.

Rely heavily on your mechanic

When it comes to motorcycle maintenance, you want the experts in your corner. To ensure that everything your bike needs is done right and on schedule, you should team up with a trained and certified mechanic.

Not all mechanics are created equal, say experts who offer automotive, diesel and collision repair academic programs. You want to choose someone who has been trained and certified, and who specializes in the type of vehicle you’re using (in this case, a motorcycle). If you can find someone who specializes in your make and model of bike, that’s even better.

Stay on top of maintenance needs

Whether you’re taking care of your motorcycle’s basic maintenance yourself or are turning to a mechanic, you need to be sure to do things on or ahead of schedule. Being proactive about your motorcycle’s maintenance needs is the right move because it will help your bike perform better and avoid more serious problems down the line. Though maintenance can be a pain in the wallet, you’re going to end up paying a whole lot more if you skimp out on maintenance. Sometimes, there’s nothing more expensive than being cheap.

To make sure you don’t miss anything, make a calendar and keep records to track what’s happening to your bike. Working with a mechanic will help here — he or she will have records, too, and may even give you a call to remind you when it’s time to head back into the shop.

Get great parts

Don’t skimp on the parts that you put in your motorcycle. Getting off-brand parts may seem like a harmless way to keep repair costs down, but there may be a hefty hidden price. Poor parts can fail sooner, requiring you to re-do the whole repair. They might even hurt other parts of your bike, since so many of your motorcycle’s parts are interdependent. When it comes to choosing parts for motorcycles, you will want to choose reliable, brand-name parts. Those are the parts that are going to give you superior performance and lower your risk of dangerous and costly failures within your bike.