The sun’s about to give up on its summer routine of beating on your back, and that can mean only one thing - the riding season is back. We can’t wait to get back on our motorcycles and scratch that motorcycling itch, and we are sure you can’t too. But, before we all make a beeline for the saddle, it’s time to do some checks on your motorcycle, to make sure it’s as up for the ride as you. The first thing you should do is a visual inspection of the motorcycle to make sure everything looks in order. Then, move on to:
At the very least, your tyres will need air. Prolonged periods of storage can lead to a motorcycle tyre losing air pressure. In fact, many times stationary motorcycle tyres lose more air than ones that are being put through their paces every day of the week. This can happen for loads of reasons. Ideally, we recommend that you top up your tyres mid-way through the summer, when the motorcycle is still in storage, but if that is not possible, then, you should definitely top up the tyres with air before riding out. If you don’t do this, chances are, the motorcycle will feel sluggish, and it could lead you to worry that there is something wrong with the motorcycle’s handling, when in fact, topping up the pressures will solve the problem.
If the motorcycle hasn’t been moved around, we suggest you also look at the surface of the tyre, especially the contact patch on which the motorcycle was resting (for both tyres). Sometimes, if a tyre is getting old or has gone through adverse conditions, then tyres can crack. In such a case, your only option is to change the set. However, such problems occur mostly on older tyres. One way to avoid such deformation is to constantly move the motorcycle around on to a newer contact patch during the time it is in storage, or to use a paddock stand at both ends.
The next thing on your list should be electricity, or rather the bits that move electricity around on your motorcycle. Check all the lights and make sure the battery is in a good condition. A good way to do so is to listen to the crank when you start up a motorcycle. A weak crank can be the sign of a weak battery. You should also look over all exposed wiring, as sometimes rodents can go to town on them, and if you run a motorcycle with exposed wiring, it could lead to a short-circuit. You should also pay special attention to all the dials and gauges on the motorcycle, and see if they are displaying consistent information, as a fault in the electrical wiring could lead to false data being shown on them. Lastly, if there is a major electrical issue, it’s unlikely your motorcycle will start, so in that case, get a mechanic and get them to go over the motorcycle with a fine tooth comb.
Lastly, take a look at the fluids. First, check the engine oil. Make sure it is brimmed up to the permissible limit, and that it is fresh. Ideally, you want to start with fresh engine oil at the start of a season, but if you haven’t ridden thousands of kilometeres since the lat oil change, you can skip this step. Second, check your brake fluid reservoirs - both front and back. Honestly, if you ride hard and ride a lot, we recommend that you bleed your brakes, and put in fresh oil into the system. If you do this, chances are you won’t need to do any other brake maintenance apart from change pads during the season. Lastly, if your motorcycle is liquid-cooled, you also need to check the coolant level. Top up the coolant to the desired level so that your motorcycle engine can run cool for miles on end.
Ultimately, the first ride of the season is all about listening to your motorcycle. There are problems that can creep through even after the above checks, so, we recommend you keep your ear open for any unwanted noises or look out for unwanted sensations on a motorcycle. Ideally, you will be able to spot anything major within a couple of kilometres of riding. And a pro tip, if you have ridden the motorcycle previously for quite a few kilometres, and something feels wrong but you can’t put a finger on it, get off the motorcycle and check. Speaking from experience, in most scenarios, something actually turns out to be wrong.