If you are one of those riders who rode all winter, like me, then your bike should be ready for Spring. For the rest of the riders out there whose bikes have been in the garage, storage facility, shed or outside under a tarp, these bikes are far from ready to just get on and go.
We use an acronym in the MSF safety class called T-CLOCS. This is what we use as a pre-ride checklist. You should use this every time before you ride. Let’s go over it, and add a few things to get ready to ride after a long winter.
T- Tires and Wheels
Check your air pressure (which is found in your owners manual not the side of the tire). Your tires can fit many different types of bikes with different suspensions. Check for dry rot or flatness in your tire. When a bike is stored on a cement floor for extended periods of time they can develop a “flat spot” on the bottom. Make sure that corrects itself when you inflate the tire. Tighten or adjust spoke wheels. Lastly, make sure the tire tread depth is good. If in doubt, ask a dealership to check it for you. Of course if the tire is bald you need to fix that as soon as possible. Bald tires are a recipe for disaster!
This includes all levers, pedals, cables (clutch and brake), hoses and throttle. They all need to be connected and working properly. Levers should work smoothly. Pedals should move freely, and cables should be connected and working properly. I look at the hoses and make sure they are not hanging anywhere. I check my throttle by rolling on it and making sure it snaps back to its original position.
L- Lights and Mirrors
Headlight, tail lights and turn signals. Check to see that all light up and work properly. Change any bulbs that are out. Look at your mirrors and make sure they aren’t scratched and that they are secure and snug. The last thing you want is for the mirrors to get loose and start moving when your riding at 50mph.
O- Oil and other fluids
This is very important since the fluids have not been used in a few months. You will need to check the oil, transmission fluid and brake fluids. Make sure there is enough fluids by checking the reservoirs. Usually there is a glass window for you to look at the levels. When you check the oil make sure that it isn’t to thick or dark. The big question is to change or not change the oil before the start of the riding season. It really depends on the condition of the oil when you check it. Just remember, when in doubt, change it out! It can not hurt to change the fluids. How do you know how long oil is good for? Regular oil changes usually happen at around 2,500 miles and synthetic 5,000 miles. That always depends on your bike and how you ride it. You can always check with your owners manual.
Here we are looking at suspensions and I include my battery. Driveshaft’s usually don’t require any adjustments but belts and chains might. I am far from a mechanic, but I can look at my belt and see if it is worn, torn or loose. If it looks weird to you, DO NOT ride it! Trailer it to a mechanic to be sure. Let’s talk about the battery. Batteries are usually no maintenance these days but do have a life expectancy of approximately 5 years and that is with a battery tender used most of the time. Should you wait till it dies out on some back country road before you change it? Probably not! I usually change mine at the start of the 5th year. I don’t want to take any chances. I do use a battery tender all the time. Even if I ride on a regular basis. It will never hurt the battery.
Whether it is a center, side or kickstand, you want it to work correctly. They have to move freely and be secure to the bike. I was at a bike event this past year when a bike pulls up and goes to park. The kickstand feel off! Now the guy has to figure out how to hold this bike up. So he leans it against the wall. Yes against the wall! He went into the party and came out several hours later, jumped on the bike with the kickstand in his pocket and off he went. I don’t ever want to be “that guy or girl”.
As you can see there is a lot of stuff that needs to be looked at. Start looking at your bike soon. You might have to buy or order parts and if it needs a dealership, appointments book fast this time of year. I’m not a mechanic but I can look over the bike and see if there is something not right. If you are not handy then I suggest you trailer or have a dealership pick up the bike. The last thing you want to do is just get on it and go. It’s not smart or safe. I hope this helps you to prepare for the riding season. It’s all about being safe and enjoying the ride!