If you are a winter-weary motorcycle enthusiast, good news! Motorcycle season will soon be upon us and you'll soon be hitting the open roads on your favourite two-wheeler. After a long winter in extended storage, your bike will likely need some TLC.
Start the riding season right with the T-CLOCS inspection created by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. The following is a summary of their pre-ride inspection checklist that will help you get your bike ready to ride after a long few months of extreme cold and harsh conditions.
T - Tires and Wheels
- Check the air pressure of your tires and inflate to the pressure specified in your owner's manual. Look for wear-and-tear 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 centre 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 practised 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 manoeuvre 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.
Finally, adjust your motorcycle insurance coverage
Many insurance companies will allow you to remove road or driving coverages on your bike over the winter months. Now that you're getting your bike ready for the road, you will need to up that coverage.
Since motorcycle insurance rates can vary significantly year to year, it's wise to compare motorcycle insurance quotes every year before committing to another season of monthly insurance premiums; and riders looking to buy a new ride should compare insurance quotes for different models to see how much they'll cost to insure before they make a final decision.
Have a great season and ride safe!