Spring Motorcycle Maintenance Tips
Friday, May 3, 2013
For motorcycle enthusiasts, spring means pulling that two-wheeler out of storage, giving it a thorough check-up and getting it back on the road! The Motorcycle Safety Fund recommends you follow its T-CLOCS℠ inspection checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the bases:
T - Tires & Wheels
C - Controls
L - Lights & Electrics
O - Oil & Other Fluids
C - Chassis
S - Stands
Getting down to basics, here is a list of absolutely necessary checks you should perform before going for that first ride of the season. Be sure to check the:
Tires. Inspect your tires and suspension even if you were careful to keep the weight off of them in storage. If your bike was resting on a kickstand, look for flat spots or other signs of uneven wear. Check the pressure, and always have a tire gauge handy so you can regularly test your pressure. Proper inflation is vital to performance, long life and safety. In particular, under-inflation can lead to dangerous (and expensive) blowouts.
Check your tread depth regularly, and replace your tires when the treads are worn to 1 - 2 mm. Motorcycle Mojo Magazine points out that your tread grooves channel water away from your contact path to prevent hydroplaning and that solid treads are critical to wear, traction, stability and cooling.
Fuel quality. Do a visual examination of the gas in your tank. If the bike has been in storage for less than a year and you used a fuel stabilizer, it should be fine. Otherwise, be on the lookout for stratification, and drain it if it looks questionable (fuel tends to break down after six months). Visually inspect your fuel lines for cracking, and replace them if necessary. Check your fuel filter to make sure it isn’t clogged too, and remember that it should be replaced every two years.
Oil level and quality. Always check the level before you ride. If you didn’t change the oil prior to storage, consider doing that now. Clean oil and a new filter will keep your engine running smoothly.
Brake, clutch and coolant levels. Leaks can happen anytime, so make sure your fluid levels are adequate. If they’re down slightly, top them off. If they’re down significantly, find and repair the leak. You should replace your brake fluid every year or two to keep your brakes in top form. While you’re at it, take a look at the thickness of your brake pads to make sure they haven’t worn down to the brake disc; that can mean costly replacement.
Battery. Cold weather is hard on motorcycle batteries. Look for corrosion on the leads and make sure the connections are solid. Make sure the battery has a strong charge and, if necessary, top it off with distilled water.
Chains, shaft drive oil and belt drives. Use a spray lubricant on your chains, and make sure they have adequate sag. If it’s been a while, consider replacing the shaft drive oil as a precautionary measure. Make sure your belt is clean, and adjust its tension if necessary.
Once everything looks good, warm your bike up for a few minutes to make sure the fluids are flowing smoothly. This will give you a chance to get comfortable with the feel of your motorcycle again, too, so that you can ride safely and confidently.
Remember to conduct regular maintenance checks to identify potential problems before they become emergencies and to prolong the life of your motorcycle. Enjoy the riding season!