Spring is here, temperatures are rising, and the snow is finally on its way out. That means it’s time to get your motorcycle out of storage and back on the road. Before you take your first ride, there are some things you should check to make sure your bike is safe for the season ahead.
After airing up the tires, check the date code to see when they were manufactured. This number will be on the sidewall next to the letters “D.O.T.” The first two numbers are the week of manufacture and the second two are the year. As a rule of thumb, tires should be replaced 6 years after they were made regardless of wear. Older tires can suffer from dry rotting and other issues that will cause the tread and sidewall to come apart.
Flat spots can form on the tire if it was parked on a cold surface. Over time, the weight of the motorcycle pushes down on the area in contact with the ground, reshaping it. Minor flat spots should disappear once the tire has warmed up from riding. If they don’t, the tires need to be replaced.
Manufacturers usually recommend replacing the brake fluid every two years to remove any moisture in the system. If your bike has ABS, there may be a special procedure for flushing the system without damaging the system’s pressure relief valves. Always use brake fluid from a sealed container. Just like the fluid in your brake system, fluid in an open container can absorb water from the air, reducing its performance.
Rust will form on the surface of the brakes if they’ve encountered any form of moisture during storage. This is normal, and the pads will scrape it off after a couple miles of riding. Take it easy when you go out on your first ride and expect to hear some squeaking as the rust is rubbed off.
After sitting untouched for months, cables can become crimped or seize up. Check the length of each cable for signs of housing damage, kinks, or other damage.
Apply some cable spray lubricant at the top of the cable near the controls. The cable is fully lubricated when the lube drips out of the bottom of the cable housing. Most new cables are sold without lubrication and need to be oiled after installation.
Throttle levers usually use a pair of cables: one cable opens the throttle, while the second cable closes it in case the return spring fails. If they need to be adjusted or replaced, it’s best to leave the job to a professional: the last thing you want when making a sudden stop is to have the throttle stuck open.
If you put a stabilizer in the fuel tank before you stored your bike, it will probably be fine. Shine a light into the tank and make sure that gunk hasn’t formed in the bottom.
If the fuel wasn’t stabilized, it’s now stale. Drain the tank, fuel lines and, if your bike has them, the carburetors. This will keep waxes that have formed over the winter from clogging narrow passages in the fuel system.
Acids left behind from combustion will slowly break down oil, even if the engine hasn’t been used in a while. If you didn’t change the oil before storage, now is a good time to do it. Be sure to check the level before starting. Over time, some oil may have leaked out of the crankcase, even if it didn’t leave a puddle on the floor.
Clean off any corrosion on the battery terminals and check the voltage. Unless it’s very cold outside, 12-volt batteries should have a reading between 12-13 volts with the engine off and just above 10 volts during starts. 6-volt systems should be a little over 6 volts with the engine off and 4.5 volts or higher during a start. If the voltage is lower, it may be time to get a new battery.
If your battery isn’t sealed, make sure it’s full of electrolyte. Serviceable batteries will have removable caps on the top.
Nuts and bolts can vibrate loose from riding, and now is a great time to check their tightness. Pay close attention to the exhaust, rear subframe and luggage racks. These are the areas where you’ll most likely find loose fasteners.
Get the Look You Want
Did your bike’s paint get scratched in storage? Are you thinking about changing the look of your bike? Merton Auto Body can restore the factory look of your motorcycle or give you the look you want with custom paint and pinstriping. We can also repair fenders, fairings and other body parts using the same techniques we apply when fixing collision damage. You can visit our website for a free online estimate, or stop by our convenient Sussex, WI location. We proudly service the Waukesha County and surrounding Lake Country areas, including Delafield, Hartland, Pewaukee, and Oconomowoc.