To motorcycle enthusiasts, nothing compares to the thrill of riding their bike on a warm day, with the wind in their hair. What’s not so fun? Riding a motorcycle on a cold, blustery day or during a rainstorm. That’s why during the winter months, many smart motorcycle owners opt to store their bikes in garages and storage lockers to protect them against the harsher elements.
Once the warmer weather has arrived, you’ll likely be pulling your motorcycle out of storage and back onto the road. However, it won’t be as easy as turning it on and riding off. There are some things to do first to get your bike back in top riding shape.
Inspect the battery
As you may have learned from experience, leaving your bike alone for just a few weeks can result in a dead battery, so imagine what happens after it is left in storage for months. The cold weather causes motorcycle batteries to lose their charge quickly. A way to avoid this is to use a “trickler charger,” which offers a low rate of charge and shuts off when a full charge is reached to avoid damaging the battery. If you didn’t, you’ll likely need a new battery.
Check and fill your tires
There’s a good chance that your tires will have deflated during storage as a result of the cold weather and dry environment of most storage units. Simply check your tires’ air pressure and refill them, but make sure to check for punctures before hitting the road.
Check the Fuel
After a few months in storage, the fuel in the motorcycle may start to gunk up. This can cause problems when riding it on the streets for the first time. You can use a fuel stabilizer to prevent this from happening. This will keep your fuel clean. If you don’t use one, it’ll result in a lot more work for you. You’ll have to go through the trouble of draining all the gas from the tank and fuel lines and the carburetor, too, if your bike has one.
Change your oil
If your motorcycle has been in storage for more than a few months, you’ll want to change both the oil and filter – even if you did an oil change before putting the bike in storage. This is because oil starts to degrade once it has been sitting for a while. You’ll also want to check your brake fluid, hydraulic clutch fluid, and coolant. If any levels are low, top them off with fresh fluid.
Tires typically tend to stand up well to cold weather, but in some cases, cracks and flat spots can appear after a few cold months in storage. In addition, the tire pressure can decrease a little, so be sure your tires are fully inflated before taking it for its first warm weather ride.
If your bike was in good shape when you stored it, it should be okay once you start it up again but just to be sure, inspect all bulbs, reflectors, gears, and odometer/computer controls. Don’t take the risk of going out for a ride without a working signal.
Even if your bike is in the best condition, this doesn’t matter if you’re unable to control it well. If you haven’t been out riding for months, it’s always a good idea to take it slow, and ease into your bike by taking a few slow spins around the block before hitting the high-way at full-speed.