Guest Author - Nancy Brotherton
For those of us that live in an area where we have to winterize our bikes and put them up for several months, this article is about getting our bikes dusted off and "ready to ride" for the upcoming riding season.
Before you ride your motorcycle, whether it has been in a garage for months or if you go out every day, you should do a quick visual pre-ride motorcycle inspection of the chassis. Look for cracks, bent or missing spokes, loose nuts and bolts, missing nuts, bolts, clips, or pins, and fluid leaks in hoses, seals, or gaskets. Do a quick inspection of the throttle and levers. Ensure that all cables are secured and in good condition.
Always, always, always check the tire pressure before going out on the road. Ensure that the valve stems are seated correctly and are tight. Check to ensure the tire pressure matches the recommended manufacturer air pressure for your specific tire. Usually, you can find this information in your motorcycle user manual or the tire manufacturer's website. Check the tread depth; look for foreign objects, or uneven wear.
Check the fluid levels. Always check the oil and make sure you have a full tank of gasoline. One tip I can pass on is to also go by your miles, rather than the float on the gas tank, because often it can be off by as much as 2 gallons. I make sure I keep track of my miles, that way I know when it is time to fill up. If you have a locking tank, take your key with you in case you run out of gas. Don't assume that all tank keys are made the same because they aren't, take this from the voice of experience.
Check the battery to make sure the terminals are clean and tight fitting.
Test your turn signals, headlights, and brake lights to ensure proper operating order. Replace any burnt out bulbs before riding.
Check the mirrors to ensure they are securely bolted and crack free. Adjust the mirrors to the proper position before riding and make sure they are clean and streak free. It isn't easy to adjust your mirrors while riding, nor is it safe.
Lastly, when you are on your bike and "ready to ride" and you take up the kickstand, check to make sure that the spring in the kickstand has enough tension to hold it in position. There is nothing like everyone getting in line to ride and when they make the lefthand turn out of the parking lot, the one motorcycle that either didn't check their kickstand for faulty springs or left it down, goes belly up in front of everyone.
All of this may sound like it will take a long time, but in reality, once you do it a couple of times, it takes about five to ten minutes each ride. The time invested in a pre-ride motorcycle inspection is certainly better than paying for a tow home or being stranded on the side of the road.
Thanks for reading, until next week, check and ride on!