Spring is here - checking out your bike before the first ride!

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Spring is here - checking out your bike before the first ride!

Post  JamesGoodchild on Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:34 am

It is that time of the year when Saskatchewan residents, like the groundhog, stick their noses out of their homes and start to consider venturing outdoors again. For those who have stored their motorcycles for the winter, there are a few things to check before your first ride of the season.

1. If you have pulled your battery and stored it indoors on a battery tender over the winter, good for you. Your battery should be in fine shape for the new season. If you have left your battery in a new bike over the winter without a battery tender hooked up, you will likely be in for a surprise. A lot of new bikes with their electronics have a substantial parasitic drain on the battery. If the battery drains over the winter in the cold, it is likely toast. If you do have a dead battery, you can try to recharge it, but in my opinion, you are much better off going to the Battery Depot and dropping some money on a new one. Motorcycle batteries are subjected to way more stress than car batteries due to heat, vibration and lean angles sloshing chemicals around. And they have to do it in a much smaller package. It is just not worth it to have a marginal battery on a bike. Regardless of how you get there, hookup your charged battery, postive terminal first, then negative but don't start the bike yet.
2. Check the tire pressure and fill them to the manufacturer's recommended pressure. Tires can loose 1 to 2 PSI a week so it is likely your tire pressures are low. If the bike is on a center stand, rotate the tires and feel for any sticking points. Even if you don't have a center stand, rotate the tires by moving the bike back and forth and check the tires for cracks, cuts, wear etc. You only have 2 tires and a contact patch the size of a looney so this is one area you shouldn't skimp on.
3. While moving the bike or rotating the tires, engage both of the brakes and ensure they engage freely and haven't stuck in place over the winter. Corrosion can sometimes cause brake pistons to stick. This is also the time to follow the brake cables and hoses and look for any signs of wear, leaks, etc. Inspect the pads and make sure you meet the manufacturer's guidelines for wear.
4. Now is a good time to go over the bike and see if you have any leaks, missing bolts, rust or corrosion. Pay attention to rubber hoses and electrical wires and look for cracks or signs of wear. Inspect the inside of the exhaust pipes as mice have been know to make nests there over the winter. Same with air cleaner. Pop it out, clean or replace per manufacturer's instructions and make sure nothing has made a nest behind it. I normally do this inspection as part of a detailed cleaning. Kills two birds with one stone, the bike ends up clean and I know I've gone over every inch.
5. Check fluid levels including engine oil, transmission, final drive, brakes, clutch and radiator. Note: not all of these might apply depending on your bike. Check any belts or chains for proper tension and inspect for signs of wear and cracks.
6. Assuming everything has passed, it is time to fire up the bike. Make sure you are in a ventilated area and follow your normal start up procedure. Once the bike is running, this is a good time to check the electrics. Make sure all lights work and the horn is functioning.
7. Once the bike is at normal operating tempature, get on and go for a ride. Remember that early in the season, the roads typically have sand and loose gravel from winter maintenance. Don't hit corners hard until the streets are clean. Also, remember that you can have black ice up to 3C so even though it might be above zero, there is potential for ice to still be on the roads, especially in shaded areas.

That's it - have fun out there.
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Re: Spring is here - checking out your bike before the first ride!

Post  Chuka on Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:45 pm

Bought a new (to me) bike this spring and wasn't sure about any service history on it so did the following to it.....
- Full fluids swap... oil, water, etc.
- New set of Tourance 50/50 tires front and rear
- New front and rear sprockets and chain
- New rear brakes

If that doesn't have me ready that I'm always open to some weekend tinkering anyway. lol

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