Tips for getting your motorcycle ready for your first ride of the year
For those of us that are not lucky enough to be able to ride all year-long, there will be some necessary maintenance and safety checks that you will need to perform before you hit the road. Early Spring preparations will lead to months of good riding and avoiding costly repair bills later. And as always, safety is of the utmost importance and by performing a few easy pre-ride inspections and maintenance you can help guarantee a fun safe ride.
One of the first things you want to check is the condition of the tires. Make sure to thoroughly examine the tires looking for any weather checking, tread depth, and any uneven tread wear. You should replace any tire that displays any signs of being worn out or overly weathered. Once you are down inspecting your tires, you will want to check the air pressure in the tires. Make sure that the tires are inflated to the specifications on the tire. A good tire gauge is quit a useful tool and you should always have one handy in your on-the-bike tool kit.
Secondly, if you have not stored the motorcycle properly and still have some of the old gasoline in the tank that wasn't treated, with a fuel additive, before you stored the machine. You will probably want to drain the gas tank of fuel if possible and refill it with some fresh fuel. For carbureted motorcycles you may have to remove and clean the carburetor. Cleaning the carburetor involves removing the float bowl , jets , and other components and using the proper solvent to get rid any varnish that may have built up during storage. Now that you have properly cleaned and reinstalled the carburetor, you are getting closer to that first ride.
Moving from the fuel to the electrical system, you are going to want to make sure that the battery is still in prime condition. Hopefully you did remember to periodically charge the battery while the motorcycle was being stored. A smart battery charger is a must have for all motorcycle owners. If the battery is a conventional flooded electrolyte type, you will have to check the battery fluid levels and add dis-stilled water to any cells that are below acceptable levels. If the motorcycle fails to start and has very little starting power, you will want to have the battery tested to see if it needs to be replaced. Also check and clean the battery terminals and remove any corrosion. Be sure to tighten the battery terminal connections, because a loose connection often will not allow enough power to start your bike.
Finally a couple other quick maintenance checks are the brakes and chain lubrication. For the brake system you will want to make sure that both the front and rear brakes are working properly. If a motorcycle has been stored to long, the brakes may have a tendency to stick, or stay engaged. This could lead to premature brake disc wear or even worse an accident. So make sure that your brakes engage/release properly and that you have smooth wheel movement. As far as the drive chain, properly inspect it and the drive sprockets, looking for any signs of excessive wear. Also make sure that it is properly lubricated with the appropriate chain lube or wax. You will also want to check your engine oil levels and change you oil if it is required.
By spending just a little time doing some Springtime preventative maintenance, you are going to be out riding longer and safer.