Spring is a season of new beginnings, from growing gardens to hopeful hometown fans cheering on their Major League Baseball teams. But for motorcycle enthusiasts, spring is the time of year where many riders are getting back on the road with their bikes thanks to the warmer weather.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who own a motorcycle, you know how important maintenance is. To keep your bike up and running, many of the things you’d do for a car you’d do for a motorcycle (like having the oil changed and checking the tire pressure).
When the winter comes, around, though, and temperatures plunge, many motorcycles go into hibernation mode. Motorcycles, like people, are made for moving, so when they’re left to idle in a lonely state of neutral, performance may not be up to par when they emerge from a long winter slumber.
That’s why it’s important to “de-winterize” your bike before you get it back on the road. The following are a few preparatory tips to keep in mind before you go riding:
Check fuel first
In order to de-winterize your bike, the assumption is you got it ready for winter. But if you just put the bike in storage instead, then first things first: Change the gasoline. When gas is left to sit for months at a time, the chemicals it’s made up of combine to form a gelatinous consistency that produces something called varnish. What Kryptonite is to Superman, varnish is to motorcycle maintenance. In other words, once it’s there, performance is severely weakened. Thus, drain out the tank and replace with a fresh batch of regular unleaded.
Charge up battery
If you’ve ever taken your car off the road for several months, then you know getting it started again often isn’t as simple as revving the engine. The same thing can happen when a motorcycle goes into storage without a trickle charger. When used, these devices apply a steady “trickle” of energy to your bike’s battery so that its power doesn’t drain. You can still use a trickle charger if you didn’t apply one in the winter, but getting the battery back to life will take a bit longer.
Pump up your tires
As the “Deflategate” fiasco with the New England Patriots taught everyone, cold temperatures reduce inflation in just about anything that contains pressurized air. Motorcycle tires, while resilient, aren’t immune from this scientific fact. Check the inflation level and replace any air lost with what your owner’s manual recommends. Further guidance on the appropriate PSI level – i.e., pounds per square inch – may also be located on the motorcycle itself.
Consider having oil changed
While motor oil has a different consistency than gasoline, it’s still a liquid that may not perform as well when it hasn’t been used. Consider draining what’s in the engine and replacing it with an unused batch. Just be sure that you use the right oil for your engine.
Dewinterizing your bike is just the thing your bike needs to have a successful spring. Visit the American Motorcycle Association’s website for other maintenance measures to use in the summer and beyond.