If it’s been months since you’ve taken your motorcycle out of the garage, you may want to check it from the bottom up before hitting the open road. Performing regular maintenance on your motorcycle will not only help ensure you’ll enjoy it for many years to come but, in the short run, it can also mean a safer riding season.
Component failure can compromise your safety
Your motorcycle consists of major components, all of which can compromise your safety should they fail. These include:
As with any vehicle, the tires should be checked for proper air pressure. Your motorcycle is no exception. Tires lose pressure slowly over time – even more so, if your bike spent the entire winter in the garage. That’s because air pressure decreases more dramatically with colder temperatures.
Left sitting for a long period of time, your tires may develop cracks, dry rot, or other damage as well as flat spots, which can cause handling problems. Check the rubber before doing anything else.
A close second to the condition of your tires are your brake pads. Worn pads should be replaced before heading out on the road. Also check your brake lines for cracks and leaks and make sure to fill the brake-fluid reservoir, if the level is low. Test both front and rear brakes individually, listening for scraping or squealing sounds, which could mean trouble and should be addressed right away.
Anytime your bike is left sitting for a while, the battery may require a charge. This can often be averted by keeping a trickle charger hooked up to the battery to keep it from getting low. Double check both terminals for dust, dirt, and corrosion before starting the bike up.
Your motorcycle is no different than your car. Both need numerous fluids to run properly. These include: oil, hydraulic and brake fluid, and gasoline. Fluids may degrade over the course of a long winter and should be checked for changes in color and consistency and replaced if they were dirty when the motorcycle was put in storage. Reservoirs should be full at all times.
Don’t ignore the steering, throttle, clutch, and other controls to ensure proper operation. Cables can fray, corrode or have other unexpected damage and should be checked thoroughly. This also applies to lines and hoses, which could be cracked, cut, or leaking. Check the steering to make sure nothing is snagging and the control cables and hoses for folds or kinks.
6. Belts and Chains
Depending on the type of bike, inspect the drive belt or the drive chain for condition and correct tension. This includes checking the drive belt for signs of cracking or tearing – and damaged teeth on the drive chain.
A great deal of your safety, aside from your riding ability, relies on other vehicles on the road being able to see you. That’s why; make sure your headlights, brake lights, turn indicators, and flashers are all working. Test high and low beams. If anything needs to be repaired, do it – it could end up saving your life.
8. Safety Gear
Check your safety gear before riding out. Look for cracks, dents or other damage to your helmet or visor. While you may not want to admit you may have gained a few pounds, try your leathers on. If they don’t fit comfortably, replace them. Also, take a quick inventory of your emergency kit to verify it’s still intact – with nothing broken, missing, or expired.
While you may be chomping at the bit to rev up the engine and hit the road, remember it’s been a few months since you’ve gripped those handlebars and you may want to take it easy on both the bike and yourself at first.
And, be sure to contact your motorcycle insurance company to let them know you intend to do a lot of riding to make up for lost time. If you’re still a fairly new rider, a refresher motorcycle safety course might be well worth your while and may actually lower your motorcycle insurance rates.