14 Tips for Preparing for Motorcycle Season The sun is out, the birds

14 Tips for Preparing for Motorcycle Season The sun is out, the birds
14 Tips for Preparing for Motorcycle Season
The sun is out, the birds are singing and the open road beckons. You’ve
been waiting all winter to take your motorcycle out for the first ride of the
year, and the time has finally come. But wait—not so fast. Even
if you winterized your motorcycle for off-season storage you’ll want to
check out this 14-point checklist before you take to the open road.
Dust Off Your Bike. Remove the cover and any blocks used to keep your
bike in place during winter storage and lower the bike onto its side stand.
Remove any plugs, rags or covers from the exhaust pipes and air intakes
meant to keep out animals and foreign objects. Wash away any coating
you may have applied to protect the frame, rims and chain.
Look Over the Fuel System. Replace the fuel filter and examine the fuel
tank, fuel lines and fittings for cracks and leaks. If you used fuel stabilizer,
your fuel should be in good shape. Make sure by opening the filler cap and
looking inside for gunk or stratification. If the fuel is consistent and clean,
you can go to the next step. If not, you’re better off draining the tank and
fuel lines before running the engine. You also should check and clean your
carburetor. Add a fuel system cleaner the next few times you fill your tank.
Make Sure It’s Well-Oiled. Many motorcycle manufacturers recommend
that you change the engine oil and filter before storage and again in the
spring. During storage, the oil can separate, causing a condensation
build up that may harm your engine. Whether or not you changed your
engine oil before storage, you’ll still want to check the oil level before riding.
Check the Fluids. Check the fluid hose connections for looseness or signs
of leakage. Check for cracks in all hoses and replace as needed. Check the
levels and consistency of all of the fluids. Change any fluid that looks
suspicious and top off any that need refilling. Always use a new sealed
container when topping off fluids. Flush and replace the old antifreeze with
proper coolant. You also should replace the air filter.
Charge the Battery. If you removed the battery for storage and kept it
charged, just clean the cables and terminals with a wire brush, then grease
and reconnect. If you kept your battery trickle-charged or hooked up to a
tender, itʼs probably in good shape. However, if the bike was stored without
disconnecting the battery or without using a smart charger, the battery will
need to be fully charged or replaced if it won’t hold a charge. In either case,
check the leads for corrosion and make sure they’re attached snugly.
Depending on your battery, you may have to fill the cells with distilled
water. Be sure the vent tube is connected and properly routed.
Kick the Tires. If the weight was off your motorcycleʼs wheels during
storage. chances are your tires are in good shape, but you still should
inspect them thoroughly before riding. Check for cracks, bulges,
punctures, stress marks or flat spots. Using a tire pressure gauge, check
air pressure in both tires to ensure they’re properly inflated. If needed, refill
your tires to the manufacturerʼs recommended pressure. Inspect the
wheels for dents and carefully tighten any loose spokes. Grease the wheel
Hit the Brakes. Check and fill the brake fluid level, and replace it if it’s
dirty. Examine the brake lines for cracks and leaks. Inspect the brake pads
and discs or shoes for wear. If they’re thin, you may want to get new ones.
Thoroughly clean the brake rotors with brake cleaner. Lubricate the frontbrake hand lever and throttle cables.
Rev the Engine. If you didn’t spray fogging oil or lubricate the top of the
cylinder before storage, remove the spark plugs and pour 2 tablespoons of
oil into the spark plug ports. This will lubricate the top portion of the cylinder
walls before you start the bike. When you pull the plugs, check the gaps; if
needed, use a gap-setting tool to set them to the manufacturerʼs
Inspect the Frame, Suspension and Steering. Inspect the frame and
fairing for hairline cracks. Pay close attention to areas around the engine
and transmission brackets. Move the forks forward and back to feel for
looseness. If thereʼs any movement or clunking from the steering head,
tighten it properly. Inspect the handlebars for cracks and lubricate the cable
connections. Pay particular attention to brake-lever pivot bolts, axle nuts
and drain plugs. Lubricate all bearings and grease the kickstand. Check the
condition of every nut and fastener, and tighten as necessary.
Double-Check the Chain and Sprockets. Check the sprocket for missing
teeth or uneven wear. Test the amount of slack in the motorcycleʼs chain
and adjust the tension to the manufacturerʼs specification. Then
lubricate the chain.
Take a Look at the Electrical System. Check your electronics, switches,
lights and gauges for proper operation. Test your regular and high-beam
headlamps, and front and rear turn signals. Test your rear brake light and
ensure it lights up when you engage the brakes. Test the horn to ensure its
Test the Controls. Examine the cables and hoses for cracks, kinks or
other damage. Test the levers and pedals to make sure they’re welllubricated. Test the throttle to ensure it flows smoothly and does not jam
or spring closed when released.
Update Your Insurance Policy. Make sure insurance policy is up to date.
If you’ve added any custom parts or equipment, you’ll want to be sure
they’re covered.
Hit the Road. Let the bike idle for a few minutes to get its fluids circulating.
Check to see whether it idles smoothly and at the correct RPM after
reaching normal operating temperature. Use the Motorcycle Safety
Foundationʼs (http://www.msf-usa.org/downloads/tclocs_inspection_checklist.pdf) checklist before you hop on the motorcycle.
Now you’re ready to enjoy your ride!
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