3 Motorcycle Prep Tips for a New Season of Riding
Posted on March 7, 2022 at 12:00 PM by The Biker Lawyers
How to prepare a motorcycle for the Spring riding season
It’s felt like a long, cold winter, and you know what that means – you haven’t ridden your motorcycle since last fall (and if you have, it’s only just been recently). You may have winterized your motorcycle before storing it for the off-season, but any experienced rider will tell you that you’ll need to do more than just check your oil before jumping on your bike.
From motorcycle preparation to safety and planning, here are The Biker Lawyers’ tried and true tips to consider before you officially hit the road this spring.
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1. Get your motorcycle (and yourself) in shape.
If you’re like most riders, you haven’t been on your bike for several months. So, before you head out on the highway for an extended ride, go for a short jaunt first to check how things are working. Are your tires inflated properly? Do you have any oil leaks? Is everything working smoothly?
As one seasoned rider recently reminded us, if something doesn’t feel right, don’t get on the bike until it does.
Here’s a quick Motorcycle Spring Checklist to make things easier. Taking the time to run through this before you take your bike on a quick test ride can save you from problems later on down the road.
Brakes– Stop to check and make sure you’ll be able to stop.
- Brake Pads: Check the pads for signs of excessive wear. If you notice too much wear, replace the pads.
- Brake Lines: Keep an eye out for signs of leakage or cracks.
- Front and Back: Make sure to check the front and rear brakes closely. If you hear any grinding or growling, have a mechanic check it out.
Tires– (Ideally), your Motorcycle tires are the only part of your motorcycle that touches the road, so it’s important to make sure they’re in good condition. Tires should have an even tread depth across the entire surface and shouldn’t be cracked or excessively worn. Poor or too worn tread can make your motorcycle handle and hurt your ability to control the bike. Look for the following:
- Tread: Look over both tires to ensure they are in good shape. If they need replaced, don’t put it off.
- Signs of Excessive Wear: Check the sides of the tires for cracks or dry rot.
- Tire Pressure: Properly inflated tires will help fine-tune how precise your cornering and handling is as well as helping provide higher fuel efficiency.
Fluid Levels– It’s no secret that engines are pretty impressive machines that take a lot of fluids to keep running. Sure some may seem obvious, but here are a few important motorcycle engine fluids we recommend you check. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for the proper types, specifically.
- Motor Oil (and Filter): Many riders prefer to do an oil change before storing the bike for the winter. If this wasn’t you, now is a good time to take care of it.
- Brake Fluid
- Transmission Oil
- Hydraulic Clutch Fluid
- Fork Oil
- Gasoline: Hopefully, you treated your gas before storing the bike, but if you left half a tank of untreated gas in your motorcycle for an extended period, you may have a problem. Rust, grime, and gunk can build up inside the tank and engine. If you used some gas Stabilizer such as STA-BIL to keep your fuel fresh, or even just stored your bike with a full tank of gas, you should be okay.
Note: If you are not sure what you’re looking for, keep an eye out for signs of fluid degradation such as changes in consistency and color.
Battery– A battery that wasn’t on a trickle charger over the winter means storage may have drained it. Even if you think your battery is okay, make a mental note if you notice the starter acting… slow. Also, know that battery power can fade over time. If you notice your starter responding sluggishly or if you are experiencing trouble starting your bike after prolonged non-use, it may be time to give your battery a boost! By installing a new battery, you’ll be able to kickstart the riding season with confidence. Also, don’t forget to check the following:
- Terminals: The cables should be securely connected, and the terminals clean to ensure proper power flow.
- Charge: As we mentioned, if you didn’t have the slow power trickle charge of a battery tender running to your battery, it likely will need to be recharged.
- Lights– If they’re burnt out, replace them and save yourself a potential ticket as well as helping you to stay safe on the road. Now, when we say check your lights, we’re not just the high and low beams of your headlight, check ALL the lights on your bike, including:
- Brake Light
- Turn Signals and Flashers
- Controls– Once you’ve checked the lights, take a few minutes to really check out the controls of your bike.
- Chains and Belts– A damaged or ruined belt or loose chain can ruin an otherwise great ride. Check for tension, cracks, or any signs of wear that could cause malfunction.
- Spark Plugs– Easy to overlook…
- Check for dirt or signs of damage. If they need replaced, replace them.
It may also be a good idea to really get out there and stretch your muscles. No one wants to admit it, but anyone can deprioritize personal physical fitness. A few basic muscle exercises can really make that first real ride a good one, especially if you plan to ride for a couple hundred miles.
2. Get updated on motorcycle safety.
Motorcycle safety is important any time of year, but it’s especially critical if you haven’t ridden your bike in a while. So, before you head out, take some time to get up to date on your motorcycle safety training. You may also want to consider taking an advanced rider course – even if you have plenty of experience under your belt – which can help keep you safe and give you confidence as a motorcyclist.
To make sure you’re putting safety first, we recommend checking out some amazing resources from A.B.A.T.E. of Iowa. They offer courses and resources for just about every skill level, including…
3. Plan so there are no surprises. Prepare for Emergencies
It’s important to plan for any kind of emergency situation that might arise when you’re out on the road. In case of an accident, make sure your saddle bag is loaded up with all the proper information you’ll need like your name, address, phone number, insurance information and any medical needs you may have (including allergies). While preparing for an emergency isn’t exactly fun, it’s better to be safe than sorry if something happens while you’re out enjoying the ride. Safety first, always.
Before you head out, make sure you have a game plan. Plan your route and be prepared for the unexpected. You may be thinking “Where am I going to find motorcycle routes near me?” We’ve found just the resource. Keep in mind that it may be best to make a reservation at a hotel along the way if you’re planning on riding through the night or need a place to stay for the night. If you’re riding with others, ensure that everyone is on the same page in terms of where to stop, route, and destination.
It may be a good idea to check the weather forecast and plan for any sudden changes in weather. Bring along some rain gear in case of showers or pack an extra layer to keep you warm if there’s a sudden drop in temperature. Spring may be here, but in the Midwest, you never know.
Finally, ensure that any gear you wear is still up to snuff. Do your gloves still fit right? How about those boots? You know what we’re talking about. The right gear with the right fit in the right condition can not only make for a safer ride but a more comfortable one.