The most important resource you have is your owner’s manual. If you don’t have a manual, here are some helpful tips to prepare you for a ride on the open road.
First things first. Remove the cover and any blocks that were used to keep your bike in place during winter storage. Also remove any plugs or covers from the exhaust pipes. Wash away any wax you may have applied to protect the frame, rims and chain.
Change the engine oil and spark plugs
Many bike manufacturers recommend that, in addition to regular scheduled oil changes, you should change the engine oil and filter prior to storage and in the spring. During storage, the oil can separate, causing a condensation buildup that may harm your engine. While you’re changing the oil, replace the spark plugs. Use a gap setting tool to set the gaps to the manufacturer’s recommendations. You also should check and clean your carburetor, replace the air filter and check the transmission fluid.
Check the battery
If you removed the battery for storage and kept it charged, all you have to do is clean the cables and terminals with a wire brush, then grease and reconnect. Depending on your battery, you may have to fill the cells with distilled water. If your bike has a fuse box, check the fuses and replace them, if necessary. Keep spare fuses on hand, as well.
Flush the cooling system
Flush and replace the old antifreeze with a proper coolant. Be sure to check for cracks in all hoses and replace if needed.
Check the fuel system
Replace the fuel filter and examine the fuel tank, fuel lines and fittings for cracks and leaks. If your bike has a petcock, turn the fuel system to “ON.” If there is a “PRIME” option, turn to it for about 20 seconds, then to “ON.” After burning the fuel from storage, add a fuel cleaner the next few times you fill your tank.
Check the brakes
When it comes to safety, brakes may be the most important part of a bike, so spend time checking them on a regular basis. Inspect the brake pads and discs for wear. Check the brake lines for cracks. Lubricate the front brake hand lever and throttle cables. Check and fill the brake fluid level or replace if dirty.
Inspect the frame and suspension
Visually inspect the frame for hairline cracks around the engine and transmission brackets. Inspect the handlebars for cracks and oil the cable connections. If needed, tighten all nuts, bolts and mounting brackets. Adjust the forks and lube all bearings. Lastly, inspect the rear shocks and fender mounting hardware and grease the side stand.
Check the tires, wheels and chain
Check the tires for cracks, worn treads and correct tire pressure. Inspect the rims for dents and carefully tighten any loose spokes. Grease the bearings. Check for wear on the chain and sprockets. Also check and adjust the chain slack.
Prepare to ride safely
Even after you’ve checked all the mechanical components, never ride a bike without proper safety precautions. Inspect the headlight — including high and low beams, the taillights, brake light, turn signals, instrument panel lights and horn. Take the time to clean and adjust the mirrors. It’s also important to wear the proper gear, such as a good helmet, eye and face protection and protective clothing, even on short trips.
Be sure you’re covered
After making all the routine checks listed above, check your insurance policy and review your coverage to make sure it meets your current needs. If you have added any custom parts or equipment, you’ll want to make sure they are covered. It is also important to know how to report a claim to your insurance company.
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