I am lucky to live in Southern California, so I can ride my motorcycle all year. But, a lot of my friends are afraid of a little cold or rain, even though we don’t get much of either. They often pack their bikes away for the winter and sit around watching sports. Then, in the late winter or early spring, my friends will get their bikes out and go on a ride. If this is you, it’s smart to get your bike ready before jumping on it, and here are five steps to get your bike ready for the road.
Visual inspection: Before you get started on working on your motorcycle, you should do a quick once-over visual inspection. While you won’t see any internal issues, you can spot low tires and other problems. Then, check out the air filter, chain condition (any surface rust?) brake fluid levels, etc. By doing a once-over, you can spot any obvious problems that you can fix before you jump on the road.
Fuel: Seasoned riders know that they will have to worry about their fuel turning bad over the long break. To prevent this, you should squirt fuel stabilizer in your tank, and then you will want to run your engine for a few minutes. This will promote mixture and distribution through the fuel system. If you have a fuel petcock, close it with the bike running. This will remove all fuel from the carb/lines after the petcock. With that, you simply put your motorcycle away and not worry.
On the other hand, if you skipped this step you may struggle to start the bike after months of sitting gas. You can always drain the tank and add new if you’re inclined to do so, but usually mixing some good gas in with the bad will suffice in reviving your fuel to operable quality. Worst case scenario, your carb has been fouled and will need a rebuild (but this rarely occurs after only a few months of sitting). At any rate, with preparation, you can avoid this all together. Or better yet – just keep the bike on the road all winter and enjoy our fair weather!
Battery: If you have not started your motorcycle in a few months, it may have lost its charge. If you have a water filled battery, check the levels and add distilled water if necessary. Cautious riders will hook the bike up to a charger at this point. Riders anxious to get back out on the road will roll start the bike and let the stator recharge the battery while riding.
To prevent this from occurring in the future, you can start your motorcycle periodically throughout the winter, or you can keep the battery hooked up to a trickle charger (which will also help prolong the life of the battery).
Tire pressure: If you are going to let your bike sit for a few months, tire pressure will often drop over the months. Check the air pressure and fill appropriately.
Consider an oil change: Finally, if you are going to let your bike sit in the garage for a few months, you need to have an oil change. When giving it an oil change, you can get rid of any oil containing contaminates, and you can get on the road quickly and without worrying about problems.
Most riders who put their motorcycle away for the winter will take the opportunity to carry out any maintenance or modifications they had been putting off. That way, when you are ready – the bike is as well. With a little work and inspection, you can hop on your bike for a long spring ride, all without fear.