Spring is here! After that terrible winter, it’s finally time to start riding again. If you have neglected your motorcycle during the winter (Understandable. Who likes working on freezing cold metal?), then it’s time for some necessary maintenance before you can fire it up.
Don’t worry, this should be easy enough for anyone with a basic understanding of motorcycles. Follow this list and we’ll have you rolling down the road in no time.
- Check the battery charge with a voltmeter. It should test around the 12.5V area. Charge it on a trickle charger if it reads low.
- Check the terminals for corrosion and hit them with some dielectric grease.
- Check the bottom for signs of leaks. Hey, batteries aren’t cheap! Make it last.
Wheels & Tires
- Obviously, check the air pressure in both tires. Add air as needed, checking the sticker on the bike or the chart in your manual for the correct pressure.
- Look over the tread and sidewalls for cracks, cuts, bulges or other imperfections that could be a big problem down the road.
- Check the wheels to make sure there are no flat spots from potholes or curbs, no cracks, chips, or dents. If you have old school spoked wheels, check them for loose or broken spokes and true as needed.
- Other Drivers need to see you, and apparently just being on the road isn’t enough. You will need all your lights functioning. Check them all. Replace the one dollar bulbs, as that might be what saves your life.
- Check the lenses for chips, cracks or condensation. All of these are indications that the lens is going to fail soon. Also, this means your bulbs won’t last as long, as they are starting to be exposed to the elements. While in this area, make sure all the reflectors are there and in good shape.
- Double check that the headlight is aimed properly, and that both high and low beam work. That’s not something you want to discover after dark.
- Hopefully you didn’t let it sit all winter with old gas in the tank. Or if you did, you at least added fuel stabilizer, right? If not, the gas could be bad. If it smells like varnish, or just not like gas, it has turned and you will need to drain the tank and refill with fresh gas.
- Change the engine oil, coolant and brake fluid. Check the transmission and other fluids, and top up if needed, or replace if they have changed color/smell.
- Since you are down there anyway, check the brake pads for wear.
Check & Tighten
- Check the fairings (if you have them) for cracks or paint damage. This could indicate a frame issue. If you have a naked bike, your job is easier: just check the frame itself. Make sure all the important bolts and screws are tight.
- Press on the chain, checking for slack. Lube if needed. Also check for worn or broken sprocket teeth.
- Check hoses and cables for damage. Whether a hose full of fluid or a control cable, remember that they do not like sharp bends. Your hoses and cables should remain clear of the suspension and chassis components where they could get pinched, and avoid the hot exhaust.
Keep in mind, this list is not all inclusive, and your particular bike may have different requirements. Check the Clymer manual for your motorcycle for a full list of periodic maintenance needs.