Spring motorcycle safety checklist
On a motorcycle your tires are everything. Every time you lean into a bend you’re trusting those two chunks of rubber to keep you on the road, so it pays to give them a little attention, particularly at the start of the season. Roll your bike into the sun, and pop it on its centre stand. Look closely at the wear indicators, usually little bars or bumps in the tire grooves. If you’re having trouble finding them look along the side of the tire for little arrows that point to the wear bars. Inspect the tires for balding or cracks in the rubber; if you see any, replace the tires. Check the wheels and spokes for any damage or wear as well. Finally check the tire pressure and inflate accordingly.
About 75 % of a motorcycle’s stopping power comes from the front brake, so you want to make sure it’s working perfectly. On most bikes you’ll be able to see brake pad wear while the pads are on the motorcycle. Like tires, break pads have wear indicators. If the pads are close to worn out, replace them now so you don’t have to mid-season. Then give the front brake level a good squeeze. First make sure you can squeeze the level without it hitting the handle bar. If it hits the bar or if it feels spongy or mushy you’ll need to bleed the brake system. Same goes for the rear brakes. It’s not that hard of a DIY project, but like anything in this article visit a mechanic if you’re unsure.
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When was the last time you changed your Motorcycle’s oil? Spring is always a good time if you can’t remember. It’s a dirty job, but if you’re not mechanically minded an oil change is a great way to get to know your motorcycle. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the type of oil to use and how to change it. Next (you’ll have done this already if you had to bleed the brakes) check the brake fluid level. You want the level to sit between high and low. If it’s too low, top it up. Again, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the type of fluid required. Hopefully you either drained your gas tank and carburetors dry in the fall or used a fuel-stabilizer to keep your motorcycle’s insides happy. If not, you may be in for an afternoon cleaning carburetors.
Hopefully your motorcycle battery has been plugged in to a trickle-charger (so called because it charges the batteries slowly) somewhere relatively warm and dry all winter. If not, enjoy your visit to Canadian Tire to buy a new battery. If it has been plugged in all winter, check its levels. On my bike, I had to add some distilled water—which is available at pharmacies or grocery stores—to each cell. If you left it unplugged all year, try to save it with a trickle-charger, but your best bet is a new one.
6) Lights and gauges:
With your battery plugged in, check the lights and gauges. Make sure brake lights are working, indicators are indicating and that your gauges all light up. If not you should be able to replace most bulbs easily.
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7) Chain and sprockets:
Inspect your chain; if it’s rusty clean it off. Oil it after a brief ride so it’s warmed up. Check the sprockets for any damage, and feel the slack in the chain. If the chain is too slack you’ll have to tighten it.
Give your Motorcycle helmet a good look. As my riding instructor said years ago, “your helmet is the most important piece of gear you have, everything else is a false sense of security.” Remember that helmets expire, so after about five years or so you’ll have to buy a new one even if it looks fine. I make sure my leather gear is supple. Just like my lower back, it can get stiff when sitting all winter in a heated house, so treat it with leather conditioner.
9.) Be Aware:
Spring is the most dangerous time of year to ride. Not only does it mean dirty pot-holed roads, but also that you haven’t ridden for months and drivers aren’t used to sharing the roads with motorcycles, so take it easy out there for the first few weeks. Happy riding!
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