On The Road Again

By Sharon Naylor

April 22, 2016 4 min read

Spring is a popular time for sightseeing motorcycle tours, as spring blooms come to life and sunny days welcome road trips. Mark Zimmerman, author of "The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Maintenance," says that bringing your motorcycle out of storage in spring requires steps to maintain your bike's performance ability and protect you on the road.

"There should be some preventive steps taken before you put the bike away," says Zimmerman. Your bike should be properly stored, your tires filled and your battery on a smart charger. Yet even with the smartest pre-storage steps taken, your bike will still need to be prepped before you take it out on the road this spring. Zimmerman shares his top tips:

--"Do a general check-over to be sure that mice haven't made nests in the air intake. That happens often, even if you've taken steps to prevent mice from getting access. They can still find a way in."

--"Make sure the battery is fully charged up." It's also smart to get a 'smart' battery charger that turns off when the bike is fully charged. Check your battery fluid levels before charging. If you have lithium batteries, check the owners manual for proper charging.

--"Check the tire pressure. Even if you filled the tires before you put your bike into storage, air will still leak out." Use a tire gauge to be sure your bike's tires are filled to the specifications in your owners manual. Check for signs of tire wear as well, as it may be time to replace the tires before your first spring road trip.

--"Make sure that the lights and horn work."

--"Check to make sure all nuts and bolts are tight. When you give your bike a good wash and wax, that's when you may be likely to discover loosened nuts and bolts that need to be tightened."

--"Check to be sure your brakes work well." Since brake fluid tends to absorb oxygen over time, do a complete flush of your brake system using new brake fluid.

Additional steps include checking your fuel and fuel system. Gasoline deteriorates quickly, and after a few months the more combustible elements of gas will have begun to evaporate, which may cause your bike not to work. And gas that sits in the gas tank also reacts with oxygen, potentially creating deposits in the fuel system that can clog your fuel line, filters and injectors. Proper winterization removes unused fuel or adds fuel stabilizer in the tank. If you did drain your fuel last season, inspect the inside of your gas tank for signs of rust or condensation that can affect your bike's performance. Then add fresh fuel to the tank.

If you did not change the oil as part of your winterizing steps, change the oil before this new riding season. And check your owners manual for the proper timing and steps for your air filter replacement, as well.

Check to be sure your coolant is at the proper level, or do a complete flush and replacement of your coolant.

And finally, the fun part: It's time to ride. Zimmerman warns that the first spring ride may have you on a road that still has sand on it from winter-weather treatment, so you'll need to exercise extra caution while riding. "Casual riders who don't ride year-round can often be rusty with their motorcycle skills," says Zimmerman. "On your first ride, you'll need to re-acclimate yourself. And casual riders tend to underdress for the first spring ride. While the temperature may be a comfortable 50 degrees outside, it can get chilly when you're going 60 miles per hour on the road."

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