Spring and early summer are here and getting your motorcycle out after winter can be an exhilarating time...
But before you jump on your ride and feel the wind in your face, be sure to do a quick go-over to make sure everything goes smoothly and you're not stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, or worse!
Your battery may need a charge if its been sitting for a while without a trickle-charge. Check your battery terminals for dirt and corrosion. Easy way to clean battery corrosion is using baking soda and water mixed in enough to make a paste. Dab some on a brush and clean 'em up and dry. Afterwards, make sure your battery cables are connected firmly to the terminals and I would go ahead and throw a charger on it to make sure its at full capacity.
If your battery happens to be dead and a battery charger doesn't seem to be able to charge it, its probably a good bet that your battery won't be able to be revived. Best to find out before the riding season so you'll have time to get a new one.
Its important to check your tires after your bike has been sitting for a while. Heck, its usually a good idea to check your tires out before each and every ride! Look for flat-spotting on the tires from sitting for a long time which can cause handling problems and make sure the tread is in good shape. Iinflate tire pressures up to your tires specifications. Air will gradually seep out of your motorcycle tires after months of not being used and low tire pressures can make your motorcycle hard to handle and will increase the wear and tear on your tires. Also for check for cracks or dry rot which may have formed over the winter months.
After you check your tires, its time to go over your brakes. Inspect and look for worn brake pads and check your brake lines for cracks or leaks. Its easy to neglect brake fluid but be sure to at least top off your master cylinder if not replacing your brake fluid altogether. Brake fluid soaks in moisture out of the air and can degrade over periods of time. Test your front and rear brakes to make sure that they work and listen for scraping, squealing or other noises that can mean they need to be looked at more closely.
Oil and Oil Filter
Its always a good idea to change your oil before the riding season. While your at it, its always a good idea to change the oil filter at the same time as an oil change (same as your automobile). Be sure to check your owners manual for information on correct oil type/grade and suggested changing frequency. Afterwards, be sure to check your filter and lines for leaks or cracks.
Controls & Lights
Test out the steering, throttle, clutch, brake lever and other controls to make sure they are functioning smoothly. Check your motorcycle cables for cracks, fraying or any other damage to the outer cable coverings. Make sure none of the control cables or hoses are kinked or getting snagged.
Examine your headlights and make sure that the low and high beams are working correctly. Check your brake and turn signal lights aren't cracked and are working correctly. Test out your horn to make sure that it will work if or when you need it to. If you don't have backup replacement bulbs for your turnsignals and brakelight, now would be a great time to order some and keep them in your saddlebag or tool bag in case you need to replace one on the road in the upcoming months.
Clean it, inspect it
Go ahead and give your bike a good wash, polish and wax the chrome and painted parts. Apply some leather cleaner treatment to all the leather parts and Armour-All clean any rubber or plastic parts. This is an ideal time to find things that you may have missed on your initial go-over and once things are clean and the dust is removed, it can reveal things you didn't see before.
Take the bike out to an empty parking lot or similar place to practice your dormant riding skills. Practice braking, slow-speed riding, turning, shoulder checks, etc and simply get yourself used to your bike again. Give yourself some time to get back up to speed. This also gives you the chance to find any mechanical issues you may have missed.
Its also good if there have been a few heavy rains to help clean the roads of dirt, sand and debris after the long winter months. Deposits on the edges and corners of roads and off-ramps can be hazardous so keep a look out.
Doing a inspection of your motorcycle to make sure you and your ride are safe is an important step to take before taking your ride out after the winter. These and other steps should be made so you'll be sure to have a great riding season ahead!