Whether you have an old scooter you use to get to work or a custom bike with one of our paint jobs, taking a little time to make sure everything is in working order can make the riding season more enjoyable and a lot safer.
Inspect Your Bike
Look over your bike and ask yourself these questions:
- Does the battery still have a charge? Is it sealed, or does the water need to be topped off? Are the terminals clean?
- Does the horn work?
- Do all the lights work? Is the headlight correctly aligned?
- Are the brakes in good shape and correctly adjusted?
- Does the engine have plenty of oil?
- Is there fresh gas in the tank?
- If the engine is water-cooled, is there plenty of coolant?
- Are the tires at the correct pressure? Do they show any signs of cracking or major tread wear? Are all the spokes tight?
Inspect the area your bike is parked. Are there any puddles? If there are, this is a good indication of a leak, and the location should help you narrow it down to the forks, engine, or rear end.
Check Your Helmet
While buyers will endlessly debate the benefits of DOT and Snell certifications, there’s one thing that’s true with all helmets: they don’t work as well as they get older. The liner loses its elasticity over time, which means less impact absorption and a greater danger of head injury. Check the label inside your helmet for the manufacturing date: if it’s over 6 or 7 years old, it’s definitely time for a replacement.
Inspect Your Safety Gear
Before you suit up the first time, give everything a thorough inspection. Are there any holes in your jacket, pants or boots? Are the soles and heels firmly attached to your boots? Have abrasions worn down any areas? It’s better to fix or replace these items now than have something tear open while you’re on the pavement.
Start Out Easy
It’s probably been months since you’ve been on your bike, so it might take a while to get reacquainted with the controls. Start by doing a few gentle starts, slowly releasing the clutch, followed by some easy stops. Even if you know your bike like the back of your hand, the feel may have changed a little after being stored.
Once you feel comfortable, remember that there’s still a lot of sand on the roads left from winter, while the thaw will bring plenty of mud. Be cautious of roads until you know just how slippery they are.
Pack Your Cold Winter Gear
Temperatures may be warming up, but they can still be unpredictable. When you go on long rides, pack your cold and wet weather gear so you’ll be prepared.
Get More Training
You probably took the MSF’s riding course before getting your motorcycle license, but training shouldn’t stop there. There are plenty of other courses out there to improve your riding, including the MSF’s advanced rider training and motorcycle-specific courses for scooters and dirt bikes. Attending a racing school is also a good way to hone your skills, and it lets you ride your bike hard without getting in trouble with the cops. Most courses start just as the weather is warming up.