As the weather begins to warm, ever so slightly, motorcyclists everywhere are itching to get out there and ride.
In light of the ensuing season, I wanted to bring you some tune-up tips that can get you started and your motorcycle ready for riding, before you ride.
Spring Tune-up – of course, I always recommend you refer to your owner’s manual for specifications, tips and regular maintenance schedules, but this should get you started. If you did a year end wrap on your bike before you stored it, some of these things can be skipped, but always note, if you do not test it before you leave the driveway, inevitably something fails, especially on the first ride.
1) Tires and Wheels: Check the air pressure of your tires. Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how much air loss can happen while parked. Inflate to the pressure specified in your owner’s manual. Look for wear-and-tear on the treads; cracks, bulges or embedded objects indicate stress on the tire and may need to have the tire replaced/repaired. Look at your wheels (rims) for roundness, cracks and dents. Look for bent, broken or missing spokes. Replace if necessary.
2) Controls:Review the levers to make sure they are still lubricated, adjusted and fitted properly. They should not be broken, bent, or cracked.
Inspect cables to make sure they are not frayed, kinked, or folded into sharp angles. Also, test to make sure your bike’s cables, at no time, interfere with your ability to steer.
Check hoses for cuts, cracks, leaks, bulges, chafing or deterioration. Like cables, hoses should not interfere with your steering or suspension, and should not be folded into sharp angles. Test that the throttle moves freely, does not stick and snaps closed when released.
3) Lights:If you removed your battery over the winter, install it—your owner’s manual should tell you how. Check the battery to make sure the terminals are clean and tight. Make sure it’s properly charged and secured. Check the vent tube to confirm it is not kinked or plugged, and is routed properly.
Look over the lenses on the bike to make sure they are not cracked or broken, are securely mounted and do not have excessive condensation trapped within. Condensation is the sign of a broken seal which may need replacing. Water and electricity just don’t mix and condensation makes for lousy reflections.
Check to ensure the reflectors are not cracked, broken and are securely mounted.
Review the bike’s headlamp for cracks. Confirm it points at the right height and direction. Test the operation of the high beam and low beam options.
Test the tail lamp and brake lights to make sure they work when they should, and they are not cracked. Test both of the turn signals – left and right!
4) Oil and other fluids: Check the levels and quality of the engine oil, hypoid gear oil, shaft drive, hydraulic fluid, coolant and fuel. Replace or top-up fluids that need it. Check for leaks of these same fluids.
5) Chassis: Review the condition of the frame, looking for lifting paint, cracks, or dents. Make sure the front forks and rear shocks are properly adjusted. Check the tension of the belt or chain. Lubricate the chain if needed, while inspecting the teeth of the sprockets confirming they are not hooked and are properly mounted. Replace broken or missing fasteners and tighten if loosened.
6) Stands: For both centre stands and side stands, make sure they are not cracked or bent and that it springs into place. Also it has the required tension to hold the bike in position. Your backrest, if you have one, should be properly secured and ready for your passenger.
The other parts of this tune-up are for the rider. Ensure that you have your ownership and insurance in your wallet. Now that it’s riding season, you may as well just keep it there. Ensure you sticker is up-to-date and renew it if your birthday has come and gone. Get out the rain suit… yeah, yeah, your no wimp but if you have it with you, you can at least put it on and still ride. Besides, wet leather against the skin, leaves much to be desired. 😛
I really should not have to talk about riding gear, as safety is the key here, but I feel it necessary anyway: Helmut, leather gloves, leather jacket/pants or jeans, riding boots and protective eyewear are things you should never ride without. If your carrying a passenger, please, please ensure they too are dressed properly. Don’t forget there is still a chance of black ice once the sun goes down. It may be mid April but the weather here in Ontario sure doesn’t know that yet.
Start safe…. ride safe….. stay safe….