Prepare your Motorcycle for the Riding Season
Cabin fever is a terrible thing, especially when the weather makes riding either too miserable or too dangerous. The good news is though, spring is on the way. If you have put your ride in hibernation, it's time to kick off those winter blues and prepare your motorcycle for the riding season.
Wax on Wax off
Forget the jet wash, treating your motorcycle to a thorough hands–on scrub and polish is the way to go. Get down and dirty with your motorcycle and ferret around in all its nooks and crannies. These are the places that can get overlooked and crawling all over a clean bike is the easiest way to identify potential problems.
Be kind to your rubber; it's all that's between you and the road. Correct tyre pressure is a given, but don't forget to check the tread for shelf life. Scrutinise both tyres for uneven wear patterns or bald spots and take a good look at the sidewalls for cracking.
Keeping a record of servicing or part replacement is a good idea on so many fronts. Buyers will pay a premium for meticulous work records. Plus, it also means you won't exceed recommended factory service intervals. Service or not, always check the engine, gearbox and coolant fluids.
Even if your ride doesn't have an immobiliser or alarm, a battery can still drain over the winter. As part of your wake–up routine, connect yours to a battery tender or trickle charger and make sure it holds a charge. In general, lead–acid batteries last around three years, while it's five–plus years for the sealed variety.
With a fully charged battery, test head/tail and brake lights, indicators, ignition and horn. Personally, having had my coil leads chewed by pesky mice, I would also pop the tank and seat to check the wiring beneath. When testing the lights, make sure the lenses are not cracked or broken.
Ensuring your motorcycle is good to go is almost as important as being confident it will stop! Brake calipers can get sticky and pistons corroded when your bike is laid up, so inspect calipers and discs carefully. At the same time, check the pads (or brake shoes) for wear, brake hoses for splits, along with reservoir levels. Incidentally, brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts moisture and needs replacing every year.
Fact, unleaded fuel in your petrol tank can start to lose its combustibility in as little as three weeks. A good piece of advice is, don't fill–up before you park–up, also check fuel lines for cracks or leaks. Post hibernation, top–up with fresh fuel and if it's lain in the tank for a few months, you may need to drain the remaining aged petrol.
For shaft drives, check rubber boots, joints and oil levels. Belt drives are pretty robust, but give them a good hands–on check along their entire length for nicks or splits. If you have a chain, things are going to get messy. It's a must to clean off all the old gunge before you apply new lube, so break out the rubber gloves.
Leaking seals mean forks can compress at different rates, a factor which upsets the handling. If you see any signs of oil mist on the fork legs, it's time to replace the seals. While you're there, check the legs for pitting or surface rust.
Clutch, throttle, choke and brake cables all need lubing to keep them moving freely. Also, a dab of grease on the adjusters will help too. Like brake lines, hydraulic clutch lines need a visual check for signs of wear or splitting and the fluid topped up or replaced.
Allowing your bike's insurance, road tax or MoT to lapse will result in a hefty kick to the wallet. It makes senses as part of your pre–season checklist to make sure all your documents are up–to–date. Also, find out if your insurance includes cover for roadside assistance.
Kick off those Winter Blues
Prevention is better than cure and when your bike is running well, maintenance and regular checks are the last things on your mind. That's why, if your motorcycle sits idle all winter long, a thorough health check is essential. Kicking off those winter blues by preparing your motorcycle for the riding season is the best way to ensure trouble–free riding.