From Former Safety Officer Dave
Another year of riding is now ahead of us, and the days are warming up fast. I know that I’m anxious to get back in the saddle. I haven’t been on the bike since the second week of January …it finally returns home tomorrow. It’s time to get the bikes up and ready for the upcoming rides that are scheduled, and for the days that the weather just say’s, “RIDE!”. Here are a few tips from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to insure a safe start of the riding season.
T – Tires and Wheels!!!!!!! MOST IMPORTANT!!!
Check the air pressure of your tires and inflate to the pressure specified in your owner’s manual. Look for wear-andtear
on the treads, cracks, bulges or embedded objects. Check your wheels for roundness, cracks and dents, and bent, broken or missing spokes.
C – Controls:
Review the levers and pedals to make sure they’re still lubricated, and adjusted and fitted properly. They should not be
broken, bent, or cracked. Inspect cables to make sure they are not frayed, kinked, or folded into sharp angles. Also, test to make sure your bike’s cables at no time interfere with your ability to steer. Check hoses for cuts, cracks, leaks, bulges, chafing or deterioration. Like cables, hoses should not interfere with your steering or suspension, and should not be folded into sharp angles. Test that the throttle moves freely, does not stick and snaps closed when released.
L – Lights:
If you removed your battery over the winter, install it, your owner’s manual should tell you how. Check the battery to make sure the terminals are clean and tight, it’s properly charged and secured. Check the vent tube to confirm it is not kinked or plugged, and is routed properly. Look over the lenses on the bike to make sure they are not cracked or broken, are securely mounted and do not have excessive condensation trapped within. Make sure the reflectors are not cracked, broken and are securely mounted. Review the bike’s headlamp for cracks. Confirm it points at the right height and direction. Test the operation of the high beam and low beam options. Test the tail lamp and brake lights to make sure they work when they should, and they are not cracked. Clean and ensure they are properly secured. Test both of the turn signals – left and right!
O- Oil and other fluids:
Check the levels and quality of the engine oil, hypoid gear oil, shaft drive, hydraulic fluid, coolant and fuel. Replace or
top-up fluids that need it. Check for leaks of these same fluids
C – Chassis:
Review the condition of the frame, looking for lifting paint, cracks, or dents. Make sure the front forks and rear shocks are properly adjusted. Check the tension of the belt or chain. Lubricate the chain if needed, and inspect the teeth of the sprockets confirming they are not hooked and are properly mounted. Replace broken or missing fasteners and tighten if loosened.
For both center stands and side stands, make sure they are not cracked or bent and that it springs into place and has the required tension to hold the bike in position.
For more spring-ready tips, check your owner’s manual. It’s sure to have a checklist for getting your particular make and model of bike ready for a summer of riding after a long winter of inactivity. Also, don’t be shy to take it into a professional for a spring tune-up if you are at all unsure or uncertain. It will be money well spent.
Now that you, or a professional, has inspected the bike to make sure it’s ready for the coming riding season, let’s not forget that your riding skills have not been practiced in quite a few months. In fact, it’s likely you’re down right rusty (it’s been a long winter after all.) Make your first ride a short one at low speeds. A test ride in a parking lot or around the block will give you an opportunity to get a feel again for the skills required to brake and maneuver a bike safely. You can even take a refresher course. After all: if your bike needs a tune-up, wouldn’t also the rider? There are courses designed specifically for the experienced rider that builds upon existing rider skills.