How to Prepare Your Motorcycle for a New Season of Riding
Published: March 3, 2018
Updated: February 25, 2022
by Ashley Eneriz, Courtesy of The Hartford
Finally, the weather is starting to warm up again, and that can only mean one thing — motorcycle season is back! You’ve waited long enough to get back on your baby and are itching to hit the open road. However, before you take your first ride of the season, take time to prep your bike for optimal performance.
Nine Steps to De-Winterize Your Motorcycle
Even if you stored your motorcycle correctly in a garage all winter, there are still a few things you should check and do to ensure your bike is in optimal riding condition. A bike that’s been stagnant for several months could have endured wear, especially if the area reached below freezing temperatures.
- Replace fuel: If you didn’t drain your fuel tank before the start of winter, it is essential that you remove and discard the old fuel before your first ride of summer. Old fuel can cause issues by clogging lines, filters, jets or injectors. Plus, you want your first ride to be a smooth one with new, optimized fuel.
- Check for rust: If you did drain your tank or add fuel stabilizers to your gas, clean out any rust, gunk or condensation that may have built up during the colder months.
- Inflate tires to proper PSI. Flat or underinflated tires can increase the wear and tear to your bike. It can also increase your chances for an accident since poor tire quality makes bikes harder to handle. Check for flat spots, cracks and other damage on tires.
- Rule out rodents: Make sure your motorcycle wasn’t the perfect home for a critter during the winter. Check your wires, saddlebags, seat and tailpipe to rule out rodent damage and nesting.
- Clean air filters: Don’t overlook cleaning your air filters, as this will improve the health of your engine.
- Check your brakes: How are your brake pads? Test your front and rear brake pads separately to ensure both are working optimally. Most brakes have a groove molded or cut into the surface. Once that groove is no longer visible, you know it’s time to replace the brakes. Check your brake lines and brake fluid as well.
- Charge your battery: Make sure your battery is free from dust and corrosion. Then test the battery’s charge.
- Fill up the fluids: It’s better to drain all of your fluids and give the reservoirs a thorough cleaning than to just top them off. Replace your oil, brake fluid, coolant and hydraulic fluid.
- Other crucial checks: Check everything on your bike, from your belts and chains, to your lights and controls. Ensuring that everything is in ideal condition can make your ride smoother and help keep you safe. Don’t forget to examine your helmet for any damage or wear, as well.
Five Steps to Prep Your Motorcycle for Spring and Summer Elements
If only taking care of your bike were as simple as driving it through a car wash. Not only does your bike need a thorough cleaning to maintain its suave look, but it also needs a detailed wax to protect it from heat, dirt and rocks. Follow these steps to clean and wax your bike like a pro:
- Gently clean the paint job: Start by stripping away any old wax. Then make your bike look new again by cleaning the exterior with bike wash, warm water and a soft cloth. Blowing your bike with compressed air will make it shine like new.
- Give your bike a new wax job: Waxing is crucial because it restores the luster of your bike, while also extending the life of your paint job. If waxing by hand, a three-inch wax pad is ideal.
- Polish the chrome: Clean your chrome parts as you would your paint job and then follow up with a chrome polish.
- Scrub tires thoroughly: A scrub brush and heavy hand will get your tires looking clean again. A good scrub will also reveal any missed cracks or damage you may have overlooked earlier.
- Fight grime with oil: Cleaning the greasy parts of your bike, such as chains and the underside of your engine, is a messy job and best done with WD-40 and a solvent-based cleaner. Have designated rags or brushes just for cleaning these greasy parts and don’t reuse them for other sections of your bike.