The sun is shining, the temperatures are heating up, and that means it’s time to start riding your motorcycle! While you can’t wait to get on the road again, there are a few things to keep in mind. As your bike has been sitting in storage for months, you need to ensure it’s safe and ready for action!
In this post, we’ll discuss a few tips for prepping your motorcycle after winter storage. We’ll talk about a few maintenance tips to ensure your bike is geared and ready for the open road!
1. Check Tires
Examining your tires is one of the most important aspects of a motorcycle safety inspection. Surprisingly, tires are one of the most overlooked areas on a bike. While you should always periodically check these, looking them over after winter storage is even more essential.
Here’s what to check for on your motorcycle tires:
- Tread life
- Tire pressure
Even when your tires aren’t in use, they still experience wear and tear. Look for cracks, flat spots, or bulges. If you do find any of these problems, your tires may need to be replaced.
Looking at the tire pressure is another vital step of the motorcycle safety check process. When in winter storage, tires can lose a great deal of pressure. This is especially true in frigid locations. The colder the temperatures, the more pressure is lost. Make sure your tires have enough air for your next big adventure!
2. Check for Debris Buildup
Giving your ride a good cleaning is another crucial step of a motorcycle safety inspection. As your bike was sitting in storage for months, there could be a big debris buildup. In fact, you never really know what you’ll find after a long winter. Some people even find small animals in their bike! Riders typically see them in their air intake systems or exhaust. If you find a little critter, be careful when trying to set them free!
Once the animal has found a new home outside your garage, wipe down your bike and spray it with a hose or pressure washer. However, never use high pressure, as this can damage costly parts on your bike.
Nothing compares to that first ride after your bike is thoroughly cleaned!
3. Drain Gas and Add Fuel Stabilizer
Notice gas in your tank after taking it out of storage? If this old gas is untreated, your motorcycle probably won’t start. That said, you’ll need to drain your tank. As it drains, examine the fuel. If you see any brown grit, this is typically a sign that the inside of your tank has rust. To fix the issue, flush your tank with acid remover. This prevents any problems and helps to create clean-burning fuel.
Another motorcycle safety check tip is to add fuel stabilizer. Once you drain the fueling system, there could be leftover gas or ethanol. These stale substances can cause engine issues and several other problems. That said, consider adding fuel stabilizer to the tank to ensure a proper clean and a healthier system overall!
4. Change Oil and Any Other Fluids
A proper motorcycle safety inspection also involves looking over your fluids. This includes your:
- Brake fluid
- Hydraulic fluid
While you may have changed your oil before putting your bike in storage, go ahead and check this fluid. Experts advise changing your oil again before firing up your bike. However, some riders skip out on the change and don’t experience any problems. Just be sure to check your oil at the very least. Condensation can build up in the oil when not in use, so you’ll need to ensure your oil is clean and ready to go!
After checking your oil, look at your brake and hydraulic fluids. You’ll want to ensure they’re at the proper levels. Also, examine the fluid's coloration. If you notice excess dirt or a strange color, replace these fluids before hitting the road!
5. Inspect Battery and Electrics
A well-working battery is an important part of your bike. If your battery was left on your ride during winter storage, you’ll need to give it a charge or replace it. To get the ball rolling, take out your battery and charge it overnight. If you don’t have a maintenance-free battery, you’ll want to check the fluids in each battery cell. If any cells are below the suggested levels, fill them with distilled water. Make sure to never use water from the tap!
After charging your battery, go ahead and test it. If it fails to hold a charge effectively, replace it ASAP. This is especially true if your battery is over four years old! While being stranded on the freeway with battery issues is never fun, you want to make sure it’s working as it should! Replacing an old battery can save you from several costly and time-consuming issues.
6. Check Controls and Gauges
The gauges on your motorcycle are vital for a successful ride. When your bike is in storage, these gauges can get all out of whack. That said, be sure to examine these before taking your bike for a spin.
You’ll want to look at the following:
- Rear brake lights
- Turn signals
If any of these are broken, fix them right away. You would hate to get pulled over or deal with an emergency situation!
The controls on your bike are another important area to look over. To ensure everything is working well, you’ll want to examine the steering, throttle, and clutch. Also, check your wiring for any frays, damage, or corrosion. This step is essential in the motorcycle safety check process. Furthermore, you also want to look over your lines and hoses for any cracking or signs of leaks!
7. Clean Lights
While it’s not the #1 maintenance priority, cleaning your lights is another common step to consider. This cleaning process is fairly quick and easy, and it can make a huge difference while driving.
If your headlights and taillights appear cloudy or foggy, it may be time for a good cleaning. Luckily, several stores carry reliable headlight cleaners, and they only cost around $20. While an auto shop may offer this service, it’s something you can easily do yourself—and for a fraction of the cost!
As many riders fail to clean their lights periodically, it's important to do so. This step could save you from a life-threatening situation!
8. Check and Clean Chain/Belt
Getting your bike out of storage can be an exciting process. While you can’t wait to rev up your engine and ride off, you need to inspect your bike chain or belt. If you have a dirty chain, it won’t be a smooth ride, and you may deal with a number of problems. For cleaning the chain yourself, grab a wire brush and dip it in degreaser. Then, scrub the brush on the chain until the grime is removed. You’ll then want to rinse the brush in a clean degreaser and wipe dry. The last step involves spraying the sprocket side with lubricant and ensuring the chain has the right amount of slack. If it looks wrong, make the adjustment according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
9. Check Brake System
During a motorcycle safety inspection, your braking system is quite possibly the most important area to check. This includes your:
- Brake discs
- Brake lines
- Brake lever/pedal
If any of these are broken or worn out, it could lead to a fatal crash or several other problems. Regarding your brake pads, these should be at least 1/8 inch thick. However, the thicker, the better. Replace them right away if they’re too thin or damaged!
Another crucial step is to inspect the position of your brake lever. It may have moved while in storage. To check this properly, sit on your bike and grasp the handlebars. If the lever seems off, make the necessary adjustment.
10. Check Spark Plugs
Spark plugs are another essential part of your motorcycle. If they’re broken or excessively dirty, this can lead to several complications. That said, replace them if needed. You would hate to first notice a spark plug issue when stranded on the side of a busy highway! If you’re unsure how to inspect your spark plugs, take your bike to a qualified specialist.
11. Check for Loose Components
Unfortunately, many areas on your motorcycle can become loose, even when simply sitting in storage. To ensure everything looks good, examine your bike for any loose components, and tighten them up if needed. Not sure what needs to be tightened?
Here are the most important components to check:
- Luggage racks
With regard to your motorcycle speakers, you’ll want to test these before bringing them out of storage. If they sound off or you’re looking for a top-notch upgrade, give Garage Bagger Stereo a call! We carry a wide variety of motorcycle speakers, radios, subwoofers, and more!
12. Let Engine Run
One overlooked step in the motorcycle safety check process involves letting your engine run and listening for any issues. To do this, turn on your bike and let it run for a few minutes. Then, listen for any strange or unusual noises. If something sounds off, try to find where the problem is coming from and consider taking your bike in for repairs. When something doesn't sound right, do the right thing and never ride your bike! Weird sounds are a good indication that something is wrong.
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