With the Ides of March behind us the season of spring is finally here. It’s time to get that scoot ready for a summer full of riding, and that means performing some spring motorcycle maintenance.
The biggest mistake anyone can make is to roll that bike out, and if it cranks, just ride it. If your bike has been sitting most of the winter then you need to do some things to make sure you don’t wind up on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. Even if you have ridden your bike all winter you should still do most or all of these things to be on the safe side.
Lets start at the top. We try to focus on what lays ahead while we ride down our path searching for the answers to life, but our mirrors show us what we have left behind. Or rather what is coming up behind us! Checking to make sure they are not cracked or broken and that they are tight and adjusted properly is the only way to see what is behind us. While we are at the handlebars check to make sure it is tight and does not spin on the clamps. that’s one of the worst ways to lose control of your bike. The clutch lever and brake lever is the next thing on the list. They should pivot easily with no drag or binding. The cable adjustment is generally a 1/16th to an 1/8th of an inch of freeplay at the lever. Any more or less and you risk burning your clutch plates or wearing your brakes out. The twist throttle should spin freely with no sticking and should snap back to idle on its own. A sticking throttle is a sure way to end up in the hospital or worse. Also check to see that all the switches on the hand controls work like they should.
Working our way down, the lights should all be on when the switch is on except for the turn signals. Make sure the lenses are clean and that the lights are bright through them. Make sure the turn signals work properly and the high and low beam on the head light. Most times that headlight is the only way those cars see us so a good one is imperative to have. The brake light should come on with the pull or push of either brake and go out quickly when released. If it doesn’t then you may not be letting those behind you know if you are really braking or not. Many rear end collisions happen because the vehicle in front didn’t have properly working brake lights.
The tires are the only thing between our bike and the road so they have to be looked at very closely. Check them for wear, dry rot, and any objects from the road that may be lodged in them. Also check the pressure and fill them to the recommended pressure on the tire not the one on the bike. If you don’t have the original equipment tires then chances are the pressure that the tires need is not the same as whats printed on the sticker on your bike. Take a look at the wheels and make sure no cracks or loose spokes are present. That would let the air out of your ride faster than anything. While you’re down there check those brake pads to see how much life is left on them. When the pad wears all the way to the metal you are not only going to ruin the rotor you are not going to have the braking power you had before and that could cause you to not stop in time and hit your riding partner in front of you. The brake fluid should be full and clean in the reservoir. Cloudy or milky looking brake fluid meas it has absorbed water and is not going to perform properly. The absorbed water will boil when you start braking hard and cause you to lose all braking power. Another thing to look at while you’re at the brakes is the swingarm and forks. Look for any cracks in the metal around the shock mounts and axles. Also check for leaking oil on the forks and shocks. Any oil at all and they need replaced or repaired. They take the beating that the road dishes out and should be inspected often.
The oil in your bike as it has set through the winter has gotten moisture in it. With the cold nights and warmer days condensation develops inside the engine and that moisture is not a good thing. It will not allow the oil to do its job as well and could over time cause rust to form inside the engine. Rusty bearings don’t last too long. Some bikes have more than one oiling system so be sure to change all your fluids before starting the riding season no matter how many miles are on that last oil change. If you have a water cooled bike make sure your antifreeze is full and that the radiator is clear and free of dirt and debris. An overheating engine is not a happy engine at all.
Lastly a check of the frame to see if any cracks, breaks or damage from the abuse of the road and those ever present potholes and gremlins. Some frames have bolted in sections to ease the removal of the engine. Make sure those bolts are in and tight. Also check the kickstand for any damage and the kickstand spring for excessive stretch. A loose or falling out kickstand could cause you to slide out in a left turn and leave you in the ditch or the hospital or even worse.
A lot of people will think this is all common knowledge. And it is. But if you do these checks to your bike. Your bike will love you and provide many more miles of enjoyment. And that will give you the ride time you need to find the ever illusive answers to the meaning of life.
RIDE ON MY FRIEND