Get your motorcycle ready for the first ride of the season
Last updated: January 1
As spring brings warmer weather, you may be ready to roll that motorcycle out of the garage for the first time in months. Before you hit the road for the first time this season, though, it's important to make sure it's ready to go. From giving your bike a good cleaning to getting the engine running, consider these tips to help ensure your first ride this spring will be a safe one.
Clean it up
Even if you covered your bike and stored it inside during the off-season, a little spring cleaning is likely in order. You may be able to simply wipe the bike down with a soft cloth, or you may need to use a little water and cleaning products appropriate for your bike's paint, metal finishes and seat materials, says Motorbike Writer.
Once it's clean, apply a soft wax to help protect the paint against sun damage and minor scratches — and to give it a nice shine. Motorbike Writer says it's important to use appropriate wax for your particular bike to help prevent damage (ask for assistance at your local motorcycle dealer or parts store). To be safe, test it on an inconspicuous spot before applying to the rest of the paint. Motorcycle Cruiser also recommends applying a protectant to the seat and saddlebags.
Check that the gas is still good
When your bike has been in storage for more than six weeks, it is important to check any fuel that remained while it was stored, says Motorcycle Cruiser. You'll want to do this even if it had a full tank of gas (which is a good way to help prevent rust), as the fuel can evaporate and leave behind a varnish-like substance.
After opening the bike's fuel cap, visually ensure that the fuel is clean and its consistency has not changed. If there is any question about the quality of the fuel, drain the fuel tank and carburetor float bowls before starting the engine to help avoid costly repairs. Motorcycle Cruiser says you'll also want to check the jets for clogs and clean the fuel filter, too.
Inspect the tires
Inspect both tires for holes, cracks or other damage, says Popular Mechanics. You’ll also want to check that there is still plenty of tread left on the tires and that the pressure is OK, says Woman Rider. If the tires lost air while in storage, fill the tires to the recommended pressure.
If you notice any damage to the tires, get them repaired or replaced. Do not attempt to ride a bike with questionable tires.
Check or change the oil
If you put the bike into storage without putting in fresh oil first, you should change both the oil and filter now, says Motorcycle Cruiser.
Even if you changed your bike’s oil before putting it in storage, check its level and quality. If the oil has a milky look after the bike is run for a while, Motorcycle Cruiser says it is probably contaminated and needs to be changed.
If you trickle-charged your battery or used a battery tender during storage, it should be ready to go, says Motorcycle Cruiser. It's a good idea to check the charge and fluid, though. If you didn't have the battery hooked to a charger during the winter, connect it to a tender to get it charged, says Woman Rider. Whether charged in storage or not, check your battery for corrosion near the terminals and any potential leaks.
Get ready to go
Before you hit the road, check that all the lights are still working and replace the bulbs if necessary, says Woman Rider. Pump the brake lever and pedal a few times to get air out of the lines, and then apply the brakes to be sure they're working.
MotorcyclistOnline.com says this is also a good time to look over your riding gear and replace anything that is worn out. Check your visor for scratches and replace your helmet if it's five years old (or older).
Once you're on your bike, a steady but short ride will circulate fluids and may alert you to any unaddressed issues, such as a rough idle. Starting out with an easy ride also helps give your body a chance to get used to riding again after a few months off, says Motorcyclist.
Now that you've gotten your bike and gear ready for the road, you can enjoy the first ride of the season knowing that you've completed some preventative maintenance.