Prepare for the First Ride of the Season

Motorcycle maintenance

Spring is finally here. For motorcycle enthusiasts, that means it’s time to get your bike ready for ridin’ season. Here are some musts before you head out for your first ride.

PREPARE YOUR RIDE

CHECK THE OIL.  If you didn’t change the oil before storing your motorcycle for the winter (shame, shame), start the season with fresh oil and a clean filter.

Motorcycle maintenanceTIP: Armor All Small Vehicle Mats work great for motorcycle maintenance. Not only do they keep you off cold concrete, the waterproof backing keeps oil and other fluids from staining your garage floor or driveway.

CHECK THE TIRE PRESSURE.  Under inflation can cause sluggish handling. Over inflation reduces the contact area and may cause handling to be a bit squirrelly. Check the owner’s manual for proper inflation and always check the pressure when your tires are cold.
MAKE SURE ALL LIGHTS AND SIGNALS ARE FUNCTIONING.
CHECK THE BRAKES.  Consult your user’s manual on how to check brake pads and brake fluid. Stopping when you need to is pretty high up on the list in terms of safety. If you’re a novice mechanic, you may want to consult a professional when it comes to replacing the brake pads or bleeding the brake fluid.

If it’s been a few months since your last ride, you may not be in biking mode. Take a few minutes to get into the right mindset.

DEFENSIVE DRIVING IS A MUST.  Other drivers won’t look out for you so you have to look out for yourself.
STAY IN THEIR MIRROR.  Motorcyclists can easily disappear into another driver’s blind spot. Position yourself where you’re most visible.
GIVE YOURSELF AN OUT.  Follow at a safe distance to give yourself stopping time. Know which way is safest to veer in the event of an accident.
YOU’RE NOT THE KING OF THE ROAD.  You may feel like you are because you can accelerate quickly, squeeze in small spaces and zip around slow-moving traffic. But the truth is, you’re smaller and, without several ton of steel surrounding you, you’re more vulnerable.

GATHER YOUR GEAR

HELMET
There’s a lot of conflicting information out there on how often you should replace your helmet, with suggestions ranging from every 2 years to every 10 years. Here’s a check list that simplifies things:

  • Did you crash in it? Replace it.
  • Did you drop it hard enough to crack the foam? Replace it.
  • Is it from the 1970’s? Replace it.
  • Is the outside just foam or cloth instead of plastic? Replace it.
  • Does it lack a certification sticker (i.e., Snell)? Replace it.
  • Can you adjust it to fit correctly? No? Replace it.

EYE PROTECTION
Check riding glasses or goggles for scratches that may interfere with your vision and replace if necessary.

GLOVES; ARM & LEG PROTECTION; FOOTWEAR
These are lumped together because the importance is pretty much the same across the board. In a word (or 5 words), DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THEM. Even a spill at a very slow speed can result in injuries. Your body versus pavement – pavement always wins.

NOW GET OUT THERE AND RIDE!