Preparing for Motorcycle Season

Get your bike ready to ride

To prepare your bike for that first day of riding, follow these tips — and refer to your owner's manual for specific maintenance instructions.

Remove your bike from storage.

Remove and store the cover and any blocks that kept your bike in place. Also remove any plugs or covers from the exhaust pipes, and wash away any wax you applied to protect the frame, rims and chain.

Change the engine oil and spark plugs.

Many bike manufacturers recommend changing your engine oil and filter in the spring, because during storage, the oil can separate, causing condensation to build up — potentially harming your engine. While you're changing the oil, replace the spark plugs and set the gaps to the manufacturer's recommendations. Also, check and clean your carburetor, replace the air filter and check the transmission fluid.

Check the battery.

Charge your battery, if necessary. Then, clean the cables and terminals with a wire brush, and grease and reconnect them. If necessary, fill the cells with distilled water. If your bike has a fuse box, replaced any damaged fuses and make sure you have spares on hand.

Flush the cooling system.

Replace the old antifreeze with a proper coolant, and replace any cracked hoses.

Check the fuel system.

Replace the fuel filter and check the fuel tank, fuel lines and fittings for cracks and leaks. If your bike has a petcock: Turn the fuel system to "ON," switch to the "PRIME" option for about 20 seconds, then switch back to "ON." After burning the fuel from storage, add a fuel cleaner the next few times you fill your tank.

Check the brakes.

Check the brake pads and discs for wear, and the brake lines for cracks. Lubricate the front brake hand lever and throttle cables. Check the brake fluid level, too, and replace the fluid if it's dirty.

Inspect the frame and suspension.

Check for hairline cracks around the engine and transmission brackets. Inspect the handlebars for cracks, too, and oil the cable connections. If needed, tighten all nuts, bolts and mounting brackets. Adjust the forks and lubricate all bearings. Lastly, inspect the rear shocks and fender mounting hardware, and grease the side stand.

Check the tires, wheels and chain.

Check for cracks, worn treads and correct tire pressure. Inspect the rims for dents and carefully tighten any loose spokes. Grease the bearings, check for wear on the chain and sprockets, and check and adjust the chain slack.

Prepare to ride safely.

Inspect the headlight — including high and low beams — as well as the taillights, brake light, turn signals, instrument panel lights and horn. Clean and adjust the mirrors. Plus, anytime you ride — even on short trips — wear protective gear, such as a helmet, eye and face protection, and protective clothing.

Be sure you're covered.

Check your motorcycle insurance policy to make sure it still meets your needs. If you've added any custom parts or equipment, you might want coverage for them. Also, make sure you know how to report a claim.

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