Spring Ride Time Is Here!
Spring is here! Time to get ready for those rides. While many have had the blessing of warmer, more southern temperatures in the USA, we more northern folks have been looking at snow in the yard as recently as last week. While there is always the chance of more snow, ice, and cooler weather…the fight for decent riding weather is now gaining a warmer trend. So this is the time to start preparing.
Our bikes have been tucked away in the garage—but we can’t just jump on them and go. Prepping the bike for winter storage was probably depressing for many of us, but we don’t want to rush the prepping for spring, so here are some tips for usual bike prepping we should all follow.
- How’s your charge? Hopefully you had some battery maintenance device connected to your bike’s battery—keeping a constant trickle of electric warmth all winter. If you did, great…if not, you need to investigate it sooner than later. The condition of your battery can be deceptive—especially if it is several years old. While the bike may start up fine, after some running the battery (especially if old) may not accept charging from the alternator. After some short rides if it sounds weak (not turning engine well when starting) it is time to replace. Motorcycle batteries do not last as long as car batteries—just look at size difference. You have numerous options for replacement, so look what is the best for you both price and quality, Generally, you can find good batteries at a variety of places: Amazon, Walmart, Revzilla to name a few. Buying an OEM battery from a dealer is okay too, but generally much more expensive.
- Tires? Also, extremely important, how are the tires? First check air levels. The colder it has been where you live, the lower the air pressure will be. On many modern sport, sport touring, and adventure bikes the normal air pressure is 36PSI for front tire and 42PSI for rear. Many will differ, so always check the label on your bike. (It is frequently a sticker on swing-arm near rear tire but can be anywhere). It is also in the rider’s manual. Regardless, it is a good idea to put the tires at proper inflation level. At the same time, inspect them for wear, cracks and dry rot, and overall condition. TIRES ARE YOUR LIFELINE. DON’TAKE CHANCES. Like a battery, they too can be dealing with age. If your tires are more than a few tears old, consider getting new ones. Even if they look good, the oils in the rubber may be hardened which can negatively affect handling. You can see how old tire is by looking at date code as here. Lastly, tires also have wear indicator bars…make sure they are good, even if tire look good. You can check here.
- How are all your fluids? When did you last change oil? How about brake fluid? Radiator fluid? While most modern motorcycles use same oil for engine and transmissions, there are some that have separate transmission oil or fluid. When did you change it? Plus, many bikes have shaft drive differentials. Did you know there is also fluid in there? Does your bike have radiator? When was it changed? Most manufacturers recommend at least every two years. Make sure all your fluids are checked and if you have any doubt at all about them change them or have them changed. (Like brake fluid it starts getting yellowish or dark in color when it need changed, and frequently more humid climates need it changed more frequently. Go by color, not just time.)
- Brakes and Lights? I’ve left most important for last. Brakes are what save your bacon on the bike. Nothing else can stop you other than hitting a car, a pole, or the ground, none of which could ever be acceptable. Lights, especially brake light, are also very important and really easy to check. When you have to make a quick stop good brakes can make the difference – but also the bright flashing brake light can save you from that truck smashing your rear end. Do all your lights work? If you want to test headlight for new install, check here. How are your brake pads? How about brake shoes (many older bikes have shoes and/or pads). If they are good – great! But how do they function? Pads have a caliper that press on them against a rotor. Does it work well? Does rotor feel warped (pulsing and weird feeling in lever). Do they need changed? Check here. Do it yourself or take to shop. Many bikes are super easy so do yourself, but also many bikes are complex so for that rely on a shop unless you are into self-abuse.
- All other items. Chains, belts, hoses, valves, lights, on and on, any number of other things affect your machine. At least a good going over should be done. If you feel competent, do it yourself. If not, ask around and GET RECOMMENDATIONS on a good motorcycle mechanic to check out your bike. I once had Kawasaki I sold to a friend who after a few weeks he said wasn’t quite right. I had ridden it quite a bit and thought there was nothing wrong with it. He said he heard a slight miss on one side and thought there was something wrong. He had a temperature gun and measured it while idling. The side he thought sounded like it was missing was somewhat cooler. Sure enough, he bought a new coil for it and installed himself (he is quite mechanical and probably better than a lot of local motorcycle mechanics). Sure enough, the slight miss he heard went away, the temperature stabilized, and the bike runs perfect. While I was riding, I never noticed, but you would be surprised what a good mechanic could uncover.
We all are biased towards our own bikes—that’s why we originally bought it. Make sure what you feel or think about your bike is the way it really is and not just what you wish it was.