Unless you’re in a tropical environment, like in Florida or Southern California, you probably put your motorcycle away once the weather turns cold. When spring finally comes around again, it’s tempting to just jump on your bike again and hit the open road. But doing that could be disastrous.
After sitting for such a long time, your motorcycle needs to be prepped before you ride. Follow these steps to make sure your bike is ready to go. You should also be performing routine maintenance on your motorcycle throughout the riding season checking these same elements, especially if something feels off.
1. Check the Tires
Just like with a car, your bike’s tires will lose pressure as the temperature drops. Be sure to check your tire pressure, and add more air if necessary. While you’re at it, check for any cracks, rot, holes, flat spots or other damage. All of these issues could cause a tire blowout if they aren’t handled properly.
2. Move to the Brakes
Naturally, the next aspects to examine are the brake pads and brake lines. If your pads are worn through or damaged, you should replace them before hitting the road. In addition, your brake lines should be free of any cracks or leaks. Be sure to actually test the brakes to make sure they’re working properly.
3. Gauge Fluid Levels
Before storing your bike for the winter, you should’ve drained any gas from the reservoir. Obviously, you’ll need to refill it before taking off. You should also check the oil, brake fluid and hydraulic fluid. There’s a good chance these fluids degraded as the bike sat over the winter, so check for any changes in color and consistency.
This could be a good time to get a total fluid change, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Don’t forget to check the filters and fluid lines as well.
4. Test the Battery
If you haven’t cranked your bike up at all over the winter there’s a good chance your battery will need to be charged. Before doing so, however, disconnect the terminals and check for any corrosion, dirt or dust. Clear off any contaminants and, if necessary, get new terminals and battery if there is a lot of corrosion. Make sure the cables are undamaged as well.
5. Check Your Belt or Chain
Whether your motorcycle uses a drive chain or a drive belt, now’s the perfect time to make sure it’s ready to go. Check your belt for any tearing, cracking or other damage, or check your chain for broken or damaged teeth. For both belts and chains, check the to make sure they have the right tension.
6. Try Out the Controls
Your clutch, throttle, steering and other controls need to be in working order before you hit the road. Make sure they all work, and check for any damage in cables, fluid lines and coverings. Make sure no cables and lines are kinked or folded over, and ensure your steering moves freely.
7. Test the Electronics
Once you’ve taken care of the battery, make sure all of your electronics are working properly. Perhaps most importantly, make sure all the lights on your bike, from headlight to tail light, are working and connected correctly. Don’t hesitate to replace a busted bulb, and make sure the coverings are clean. Also test the horn — it could save your life.
8. Examine Your Safety Equipment
Once your bike is ready to go, it’s time to check your helmet and other protective gear. Your helmet should be free of any damage, including cracks and dents. Your riding jacket, pants and other attire should fit well and also be damage-free. Make sure your emergency kit is fully stocked with updated equipment. If you don’t have an emergency kit, now’s the time to get one.
9. Prep Yourself
Whether you’ve been riding a motorcycle for 2 years or 20, it’s easy to forget some of the finer skills after not riding for months. Take it easy when you take your bike onto the road. It may be good to stick to small roads to refine your riding again before taking to the highway.