Someone recently told me that Spring is just around the corner? Given the current goings-on outside today I have my doubts! But worry not readers, riding season will be here eventually. So why not use this last blast of crappy weather to make sure your bike is ready for the first ride of the season!
If you read my blog on how to prep your bike for a long winter’s nap then you’ve already got fresh oil in the motor, stabilized fuel in the tank, battery is ready because you kept it plugged into a tender and the bike is cleaned and covered. Really all the hard work is done so getting things ready for that first ride is pretty simple.
Take the cover off and you’ll likely notice that in spite of your best efforts there is a nice layer of dust covering things. What you don’t want to do is take your micro fiber cloth and start wiping away! This will be sure to leave surface scratches on all the painted parts. A better option would be to get the garden hose or bucket of water out and soak the bike down, allowing all that dust to float away. Now you’re able to take that micro fiber cloth you got for Christmas and start the cleaning process. Remember, from the top down and don’t use the same cloth on painted parts that you use on motor parts.
Now that your bike is clean, I would check the tire pressure. Even if you have some kind of lift that lifts the bike off the suspension the tires will lose pressure over the course of time. The correct pressure will be written on the side wall of the tires as well as the owner’s manual. And while you’re in the neighborhood of the tires if your bike is equipped with spokes run your tire pressure gauge around them and make sure they all have that nice ping sound. If you come across a spoke that makes a unique sound it likely needs some attention. Take your handy spoke wrench and give the spoke a slight turn being careful not to crank on it too much.
The bike is clean and the tires are at the right PSI. You’re almost ready to go for that ride. Fire the bike up and let it idle up to operating temperature without the throttle. Make sure the horn, switches and lights work. Make sure there aren’t any warning lights flashing on the dash. Now throw your leg over the bike & make sure your mirrors are in the right place. While you’re sitting on the roll it forward, grab the front brake & make sure it stops you. Do the same for the rear brake. Pull in the clutch leaver a couple of times too. If your bike is a chain drive make sure the chain is at the proper tension, cleaned a lubed correctly. Your owner’s manual will walk you through this process in detail.
Often overlooked prior to the first ride is your riding gear. Make sure your jacket, gloves & riding boots are all in good, clean condition. The palms of your gloves take a beating during a riding season so make sure to check their condition specifically. Check the date on your helmet. Yes I said the date. Helmets have a shelf-life of about 5 years. Don’t quote me but I’ve heard horror stories of insurance companies refusing to pay after a crash that involved an old helmet so if you yours is older than 5 years, I would heavily recommend a trip to your favorite bike shop for a new one.
You should now be ready to go for that first ride. Couple of things to remember: the pavement will still be cold which won’t allow your tires to get anywhere near operating temperature. So take it easy. The road will also still have plenty of gravel and other debris laying around. So take it easy. Cagers aren’t yet looking for us (if they ever really do). So take it easy. You haven’t ridden your motorcycle for several months and are likely pretty excited and can’t wait to lay into the throttle. Still, take it easy. (Are you getting the point here??).
Motorcycling is in my humble opinion the coolest and funnest thing you can do! But at the end of the day it’s still a potentially dangerous activity so for the first couple of rides give yourself the benefit of the doubt and …you guessed it…take it easy.
I hope to see you all out on the road this year. I’ve got some exciting plans in place for this season including action videos from the road and the track. Until then, thanks for reading and as always feel free to leave your comments, questions or ideas below. And share your own story of the road on the “Share your Adventure” link up top! Let’s build a community of riders and stories!