Get Ready for Your First Ride of Spring!
Five Tips for Getting Your Ride Prepped for Riding Season
It can easily take a couple of hours to get your motorcycle ready to ride after the winter, and you might find that you need a new battery or something, so plan ahead. Don’t wait until the morning of that long-anticipated first ride. We can give you general tips to get your motorcycle ready to ride after the winter hiatus, but you should always check your maintenance manual for information about your machine in particular.
- Start with the fuel system. Gasoline is a volatile chemical that deteriorates quickly, losing the components that give it “oomph.” Stale gas can cause your motorcycle to run rough, and even worse problems for high compression engines. Evaporated gas leaves “varnish,” which can clog lines, filters, and the carburetor jets or injectors. Further, especially if you didn’t have a full tank when you stored your bike, condensation can form inside your gas tank, so that water is added to the gas—and that’s not good.
- Did you drain the gasoline or add a fuel stabilizer last fall?
- If so, just check inside for any rust, gunk, or condensation and get rid of it. Then add fresh gas and you’re set.
- If not, drop the float bowls on the carbs, dump any remaining gasoline, and use carb cleaner to remove any residue. Unscrew the jets and clean them, too.
- Now you can add fresh fuel.
- Now consider the battery. Probably your motorcycle came with a lead-acid battery. If you have a lithium battery, you’ll see that you treat it a bit differently.
- Did you put your battery on a trickle-charger last fall? (Preferably one that prevents overcharging by shutting off automatically when the battery is fully charged—and remember that lithium batteries need special chargers.)
- If not, use a trickle-charger to re-charge your batteries.
- Check lead-acid battery cells for fluid level and top them off with distilled water if need be. (The cells in lithium batteries don’t need water.)
- If your battery doesn’t charge, you need a new one.
- Tires in good condition and properly inflated are crucial to safe riding. Many people put their motorcycles up on blocks for the winter to help prevent tire damage. But whether your bike stood next to the garage wall or was “put up,” now is the time to be sure your tires will see you through the riding season.
- Check for tread depth, worn areas, and flat spots (where the tires have born the weight of the motorcycle all winter long). If you see problems, it’s time to buy new tires.
- Winter temperatures will cause most tires to lose some air pressure. Now’s the time to check and add air as needed.
- Fluids and filters are next. When you check your brake fluid, remember that you should not mix different DOT brake fluids.
- Unless you changed them while winterizing, using the instructions in your maintenance manual, change your oil and filter.
- At a minimum, top off the brake fluid in the master cylinder. Better yet, flush the brake system and add new fluid—again, refer to your owner’s manual.
- Be sure the coolant is at the proper level. It’s a good idea to flush the coolant, rinse out any remaining coolant with distilled water and white vinegar, and refill.
- Check that your brake fluid is at the correct level and that your brakes work smoothly.
- If your air filter isn’t clean, replace it.
- Be sure your chain is properly oiled.
- And now—the beauty part!
- Scrub down your motorcycle. Get rid of the dust and dirt and spider webs.
- Wax your baby to protect it from sun and dirt while you ride.
Now you are ready to enjoy the first ride of spring!