Before you don your leathers and rev your motorcycle's engine, you have to take the time to prepare your bike for spring. Hopefully you did the majority of the work before you locked the bike away for winter, but if you didn’t, and even if you did, here are some tips to get your bike ready for the first ride of the season.
Tip #1 – Read the manual
Every bike has routine maintenance that needs to be done. Change the oil, change the fluids, adjust the chain, lubricate, lubricate, lubricate. Many people do without these small maintenance obligations during the riding season, (which is risky enough), but there is no excuse not to keep up with your bike's maintenance when it's sitting in the garage.
Read through your manual and find out what needs to be done. Of course, if you hold your manual like a motorcycle bible you probably wouldn’t need this article. So here are a few more tips.
Tip #2 – Check the battery
One of the biggest problems a motorcycle will face after a long winter is a dead battery. If you haven’t already, get your battery onto a trickle charger. Check the fluid levels and give it a slow charge. If you aren’t getting any juice, you may have to suck it up and buy a new battery. Better to take care of that now instead of missing out on that first ride.
Tip #3 – Change the oil
If you changed the oil right before you put the bike in storage than you will probably be okay. If you put your bike away without refreshing that oil, though, then you really need to put in some new fluids. You should also take the time to check and change your oil filter.
Tip #4 – Freshen up your gasoline
Some people recommend that you empty your tank before winter. Others recommend that you fill it up. When you get ready for the spring, though it’s always a good idea to put in some fresh gas. So before you fire up the engine, drain the gas.
When the gas tank is drained is a good time to check the tank for rust, to check your filters, and, if you’re mechanically inclined, to check your carburetors. Carb problems can be avoided with some pre-storage maintenance, but hindsight is 20/20. If your carbs are sticking, you can try to run some car cleaner through your lines, but you might need to disassemble them and give them a good cleaning
Tip #5 – Oil the engine
Your engine has been sitting up for a few months now and would probably appreciate a little taste of oil. Remove the spark plugs and give the engine a couple well-deserved drops. Since the spark plugs are now out, you might as well check the gaps and decide if the plugs need to be replaced or not.
Tip #6 – Check the brakes
Brake fluid is often neglected until it becomes a problem. Check your fluid levels, but also think about the last time you changed the brake fluid. If it’s been a couple years, you should probably change it regardless of its level. It’s also a good time to check the pads. The first spring ride will see a lot of riders gleefully throwing themselves down the highway. It’s pretty important to make sure that you can stop.
Tip #7 – Clean it up
Your bike has been sitting up for a few months and it’s probably collected some dust. Give your bike a thorough cleaning. If you’ve got the time, wax it to protect it from the upcoming riding season. If you only give your bike a bath once a year, this is the time to do it.
Tip #8 – Pre-Season Checklist
Hopefully you’ve heard of T-CLOCK: tires, controls, lights, oil, chassis, kickstand.
It’s a safety checklist designed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation that should be done prior to every ride. Most riders forgo the T-CLOCK checklist during the season, but you should absolutely make sure that you go through it now. Diagnosing a problem now can save you a lot of frustration on that first day of spring.