It’s getting close to the time of year when we all start looking forward to the upcoming riding season that’s just around the corner. So if you live in an area where you’ve had to store your bike for the winter, it’s time to start thinking about getting it ready to go.
Even if you live in an area where you don’t have to “mothball’ your bike for several months, it’s a good idea to run through a checklist of things that will help prevent problems and keep your riding time hassle free.
Basically, at the start of every riding season you want to do is the same stuff that’s required on a 500-mile service. All the fluids should be drained with new added including your front end and brake master cylinders. When you check your brake fluid, if it looks old, thick and brown, it’s time to replace it.
By addressing all of the items included in a 500-mile service procedure, this will give you the opportunity to get reacquainted with your motorcycle and put you in a position to check all the little things you might otherwise overlook. Obviously, the more you stay on top of your maintaining motorcycle, the more you stay away from the repairs that can end up costing big bucks!
Gas Tank and Air Filter: If you haven’t ridden your bike for several months and you didn’t take the time to drain the fuel out of the gas tank and carburetor float bowl, drain out the old fuel and put some fresh gas in before you fire it up. Don’t start a motor up with fuel that’s been sitting around all winter. You may want to also consider replacing the fuel line and filter because it’s been sitting around with “stale” gasoline in it and more than likely is a problem waiting to happen. Besides, a new piece of fuel line is pretty cheap insurance.
While you are inspecting the carburetor and the other fuel system components, it’s a good time to clean up the air filter area and check the air filter element. It should be removed and cleaned up or replaced especially if some form of life decided to move in for the winter make it a home.
Fluids: No matter what, the engine oil needs to be drained and replaced along with installing a new oil filter specific to your model motorcycle. When checking the oil levels on FLT and Dyna model motorcycles, don’t forget that they need to be sitting over on the kickstand. The other models need to be sitting up straight.
Remove the transmission drain plug and drain out the transmission fluid. Make sure that you clean up the magnetic plug before you reinstall it, replace the O-ring and then pour in the proper amount of transmission fluid. Remember when you are checking the fluid level in the transmission to keep the bike sitting up straight.
One of the more important things that needs your attention is the battery. If the battery is older than 2 years, and you have not had it hooked up to some sort of battery maintainer, don’t even screw around just replace it! You can bet when you least expect it (especially in the heat of summer) that bugger will let you down.
While you are doing all of this service work, it doesn’t hurt to throw in a set of new spark plugs. Check the gap and adjust them as necessary, put a little anti-seize on the threads and DO NOT over torque them. Take a look at the plug wires and clean up the boots real good or replace them if they’re starting to look heavily worn.
Cables and Belts: Check the clutch cable for free travel and lube the pivot pin and the cable. The cables should be removed and cleaned up real good at least once a year, but if you’ve stayed on top of maintaining them, you probably don’t need to. The same things go for your throttle cables and remember to use the proper product for this application. Do NOT use WD 40!
Do a real good visual inspection on your drive belt. Make sure the alignment is correct and that you’ve got proper adjustment while keeping an eye out for any holes or fraying of the belt. This could lead to some problems down the road that will more than likely happen in the most off the wall places and I can tell you from experience, there is no easy roadside fix for a broken drive belt.
If you’re like most riders, you’ve probably never changed your fork oil. To get the best performance out a front end, the fluid should changed once a year regardless of what kind of miles you put on the bike. Also don’t think if you’re running a Springer you can simply ignore any sort of front-end maintenance. There are several items that need to be inspected and maintained on them, so check your manufacturers service manual.
After you’ve gone through all of these items, start the engine and let it warm up nice and easy with out revving it up. If you own an earlier model Evo, you may experience oil running out of the breather tube when you first start it up, but don’t get shook up because this can happen if the bike has been sitting around for a while. The oil will bleed down into the bottom end and when you start the bike up, that oil will get pushed out the breather tube.
After the bike is all warmed up, check the idle speed and do whatever adjustment is necessary. Check the kill switch to make sure it’s working OK and you should be set on all the basic stuff. Also, it doesn’t hurt to change the engine oil and filter again after you run it about 500 miles.
Addressing these basic items can really save you a lot headaches while on the road and help insure a hassle free riding season.