Spring has arrived and you are ready to jump on your bike and head out into the sunshine, but before you get revved up, take a few moments to get your bike prepared. Doing so will extend the life of your bike, and result in a safer ride for you and everyone else on the road. You'll only keep your cheap motorcycle insurance premiums by staying safe and accident free, so starting the season with your bike in peak condition is crucial. After a winter in storage, use this checklist to prepare your bike before you get back on the road:
Tires and Wheels
- Inspect your wheels to ensure they are round (no flat spots), free from cracks and dents, and that there are no problems with the spokes.
- Check your tires for wear-and-tear, as well as bulges, cracks or any objects that may have become embedded in the tread. Run your hand along the tread - they should feel uniform. Inconsistencies could indicate a problem with the tire.
- With temperature changes, rubber and metal expand at different rates, causing tires to lose air and need to be topped up in the spring. Get out your owner's manual and find the optimal air pressure, or check the sidewalls of the tires - it should be stamped into the rubber. Check to ensure each tire is properly inflated, and if not, adjust as necessary.
Oil & Fluids
- Check the engine oil, gear oil, shaft drive, hydraulic fluid, coolant and fuel. Replace fluids that are degraded and top-up fluids that are running low. Fluids where the colour, consistency or smell is considerably different than the new fluid you have is considered degraded and should be purged and replaced.
- Visually check to ensure there are no leaks, especially if you note fluid levels that are particularly low for no apparent reason - the liquid had to go somewhere!
- If your battery was removed for the winter, reinstall it.
- Check the connections on the terminals to ensure that the cables are connected tightly.
- Ensure terminals are free of dust, debris and corrosion, as that can cause poor and inconsistent electrical performance.
- Inspect the lenses on the lights for cracks, and check that they are attached securely.
- Check the headlight and ensure it is aimed correctly. Make sure both the high and low beams work.
- Check the turn signals and brake lights for operation, and ensure they are clean and securely attached.
- Lubricate all levers and pedals. Ensure they are not broken or bent.
- Inspect all cables for kinks, folds, or fraying. Test that your bike's cables do not interfere with steering.
- Check all hoses and look for problems indicated by cuts, cracks, bulges, or leaks. Make sure that the hoses do not get in the way of steering or suspension, and that there are no folds.
- Check the throttle to ensure it moves freely.
- Check the frame for any lifting paint, cracks, or dents, as this could indicate a structural concern.
- The front forks and rear shocks should be properly adjusted.
- Check the belt or chain for the proper tension. Add lubrication if required, and check that the teeth are mounted properly.
- Tighten all fasteners and replace if needed.
Check that stand(s) are not cracked or bent and they have enough tension to hold the bike in position.
For most of these adjustments you can refer to your motorcycle owner's manual, or purchase the shop manual from the manufacturer or dealer if you're mechanically inclined. If you are at all uncomfortable with doing a spring readiness check yourself then take it to a professional for a tune-up. This will ensure that your bike is road ready and as safe as possible.
Since you haven't ridden your bike all winter, most experienced riders recommend that you take some time to warm up to the bike again - take it slow and practice manoeuvring a little bit before you really hit the road. Making sure that you're prepared will help keep you safe. Keep in mind that if you've replaced your bike, taken some additional training, or made changes to safety equipment on your bike, you should advise your insurance company, as it may change your premiums. Lastly, put some extra cash in your pocket for riding season, take the opportunity to get some motorcycle insurance quotes online to make sure you're getting the best rates.