The Top Things to Do When Your Bike Comes out of Winter Hibernation
And we can forgive the winter time for a lot of the awful cold that it brings. But there is one huge flaw of an issue that we just cannot forgive winter for: it can ruin riding.
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For some of us stuck in blizzard weather during the winter months, it prevents us from riding. And that...that is unspeakable. It is despicable. But, we practice our patience and we wait. We walk into the garage every morning to hop in our car, look longingly at our motorcycle, and fantasize about the day that we get to take her out of her cruel, cruel captivity and ride her.
Okay, yes, it’s a bit dramatic, but it doesn’t defeat the fact that the winter keeps some of us from riding. But spring is almost here; we can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
But, just as all horrible things eventually come to an end, winter is slowly fading (good riddance, don’t come back) and spring is making its entrance. And that is beautiful! No, not because of the flowers and all that cliche garbage-it’s beautiful because of FREEDOM. We can finally take our bike out of the garage; free it from its neglect and ride it until we fall off or run out of gas, whichever one comes first.
For some of you, your bike may have been locked up for months at a time. Don’t just get her riding down the street before she’s ready. Practice proper rider etiquette and treat her right. This isn’t to say that you have to take your bike out to dinner (though a good steak with motor oil drizzled on top is exactly what she’s craving). You have to make sure everything is in tip-top shape before taking her out, or else you probably won’t make it very far down the road. And a dead motorcycle is a worthless motorcycle.
Here are some things to do to get your bike ready for spring:
Check your battery.
I know, I know, the battery is probably fine, and some people see a check as a little excessive. But it’s a necessary evil that has to happen if you actually want to ride your motorcycle before it decides to take a nap on the side of a highway. I get it, going out and buying a new battery isn’t at the height of your list when all you really want to do is ride, but it’s got to happen. For future reference, it’s always wise to invest in a battery charger that knows when to turn itself off, so that it isn't wasting any of its charge. If you didn’t have it on a ticker charge during its deep sleep, it’s going to make things a little more tedious for you, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.
If you hook the battery up to a charger and get it going, then you’re in the clear. But not everyone is so lucky, so there’s sure to be some of you out there that try to charge the battery with no success. In that case, it’s time for a new battery. It’s not the best news you want to hear, but hey, it comes with the motorcycle territory. If you do get your battery charged, make sure that it’s clean and all the cables are connected as secure as possible.
Check your brakes.
Take a good look at your brake pads to be sure that they’re not too worn. If they look a little depressing, then it’s a pretty simple process to purchase new ones and install. Hey, since it’s warmer out, at least now you can drink a beer in your garage when you’re putting the new ones in! Remember to also check the brake lines for any cracks, as having brand new brake pads will mean nothing if your brake lines aren’t in working order.
And obviously, don’t forget to test out both the rear and front brakes (before you go speeding down the road, we hope). Listen for any high-pitched squealing, as that’s the international signal that all is not well in the brake department. The good news is that once you replace them with new ones, you won’t have to replace them again in the very near future. That is unless you’re constantly hitting your brakes, and in that case, what are you doing?
Take a look at your fluids and liquids.
This is probably going to be the most straightforward task on the list, only because fluids need constant replenishing, which means that hopefully all of the holding tanks are in easy-to-reach places. If you winterized your motorcycle and changed all your fluids when you put the motorcycle in for its obnoxiously long time-out, then you should be good to go. However, it never hurts to double check to make sure that everything is in full and in working order. You might find that all your fluids are looking a little off when it comes to coloring, consistency, and smell. At that rate, you might have to perform a system flush.
If you didn’t fill up all your fluids when you put the bike away, don’t worry, no judgment here. But, you're almost definitely going to have to top everything off. If you’re not familiar with exactly what kind of fluids your bike model and brand needs, you’ll be able to find that information in your owner's manual. If your owner's manual is nowhere to be seen (it either grew legs and walked away, or it’s long gone in a far away trash bag) you can always check good ol' Google for everything you need to know. If anything, you might get better information as other riders voice their own opinions.
The fluids you’ll need to check: coolant, transmission oil, brake fluid, fork oil, and clutch fluid. Once you’ve topped those off, everything should be good to go on that frontier.
Test your tires.
Your tires are probably the one big thing that you’re hoping is okay, because let’s be honest, bike tires aren’t always the cheapest thing to have to buy for your bike. But you need tires to ride, and you need them to be in decent shape to handle everything the road will throw at you.
At this rate, go ahead and find yourself a penny to test out your tires. Put the penny in the tread of the wheel. If a little bit of Lincoln’s head showing, then they should be good to go. Remember to check both tires, as you shouldn’t just assume that if one tire is okay, then that means the other one is fine, too. You’d be surprised.
Don’t forget to check for air pressure, because riding on semi-flat tires is not something you ever want to experience. It’s incredibly dangerous for you and everyone around you. If both tires don’t have enough air in them, you risk having one of your tires (or Heaven forbid, both) blow on you, and that’s not something you put on your bucket list of things to experience. Trying to handle a bike with a blown tire is dangerous, so take every precaution to make sure you’re not in that situation. If your tire tread is worn down and they’re not really in riding order? Buy some new ones. Sure, your wallet might not like it, but it’s a heck of a lot better than risking your safety.
Make sure air filters, chains, and belts are in good shape.
Sure, this part will probably make your hands more than a little black, but grease and oil come with the territory of owning a motorcycle. Check your chains and belts to make sure they’re all secure and clean enough. Also be sure to check the tension of your chains and belt, as that can be the difference between a fun riding day and a bike broken down on the side of the road. You’d be surprised at how gunky and dirty these areas can get, and that’s going to have an impact on the performance of your bike.
You may need to replace a belt or clean your chain. If you do need to clean your chain, it’s always a good idea to have a soft-bristled toothbrush at your disposal. This cheap trick is great for getting into all the tight spots that rags and hands can’t reach.
There’s also a chance that your air filter will need replacing, but it might even be worse than that. Depending on the brand and model of bike you have, some animals have been known to seek refuge from the cold into garages and try to create nests in this area. Hopefully, you won’t need some kind of animal wrangler when it comes to this, but it’s always a good idea to proceed on the side of caution.
Flick those lights on and give them a test.
Image driving down the road. It's been forever and you're enjoying all the sights around. Suddenly, after the sun goes down, you realize that your lights don’t work.This is probably one of the biggest safety issues on this list. If you can’t see what’s in front of you because your lights don’t work, how do you expect other drivers to know where you are? We don’t need to warn you, anyone with sense can understand that that’s not a position that you want to be in.
All it takes is a simple flick on and off to make sure your front lights, back lights, brake lights, turn signals, and any dashboard LED’s work. You’ll also want to be sure to check the settings of your headlight. While your low beam may work, that doesn’t mean your high beam is in working order. Sure, having to fix your lights isn’t going to be easy, depending on the type of bike you have, but you can’t ride without them. I mean, let’s be honest, you’re not considering your safety if you ride without working lights, so at least take it seriously because of the potential $300 ticket a cop would give you.
Don't forget about your gear.
This one usually goes right over everyone’s head. There’re plenty of riders out there who are very in-tune and knowledgeable about all the workings related to their bike. But when it comes to the condition of your motorcycle gear, sometimes you forget about it simply because it’s not directly attached to your bike. But making sure your gear is at the quality-level is a huge deal because it can be the difference between a couple of bumps and bruises, or your life.
Check your helmet first to make sure that it stills fits properly and there’s no gashes or indents in it. If it doesn’t look like it’s in the best shape, don’t start weighing the pros and cons of buying a new helmet. There’s a time to contemplate purchases, and there’s a time where you shouldn’t. Anything involving your safety and the safety of others is an immediate no-contemplation situation. So, if you need to buy a new helmet just bite the bullet and make the purchase.
Check to make sure your jacket still fits properly and that its padding is still holding up well enough to withstand some damage. Make sure there are no holes in your boots or your gloves, especially the latter because gloves with holes are worthless gloves.
I know, when the weather is just right, it’s hard not to just jump on your bike and ride off into the sunset. This is especially true if you’re the unlucky individual that had to wait months to get back on your bike and enjoy the ride. But these are essential things that you need to get done before jumping on, especially if you didn’t put in too much of an effort when you put it away in the winter.
But it’s okay because none of these things are overwhelmingly difficult to do, so it will just take some time and patience to get it done. Go ahead and crack open a cold one, get some old rock playing in the background, and get to it. You’ll be done with it all before you know it (unless you face some complications; in that case, it happens) and the sooner it’s done, the more peace of mind you can have when you take that first ride. You’re sure to enjoy it a heck of a lot more when you don’t have to worry about the potential of your tires exploding.
What’s your least favorite thing to check when you’re getting your bike summer ready? Comment down below and let us know, along with any other important things you think we forgot!
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Need fast cash? Want to trade for a new ride? Trade in or sell a motorcycle online for cash to a ready buyer!