Get your motor running, head out on the highway...
It’s that time of year again! The wind has lost it’s chill, the nights are getting shorter, the snow is long gone and you’re getting the urge to sit astride your two-wheeled beast once again. If you’re not an all-weather biker your machine has probably been languishing idly for a few months and whether it’s been tucked up in a garage or shivering outside, there are a few essential checks to do before hurtling off.
If your bike’s been standing in the same place for some time, check underneath before you move it. Any leaks will have left tell tale marks and it’s an easy way to spot split hoses, loose joints or worse.
Inspect your tyres, with only two small rubber footprints keeping your bike in contact with the road, it is vital that they are in good condition. If you do nothing else, check tyre pressures, (the correct settings will be in your manual). As well as effecting handling, increasing wear and fuel consumption, under-inflated tyres build up excessive heat that can cause sudden tyre failure. Winter temperatures make the rubber compound stiffer and increase the chances of flat-spotting if your bike hasn’t been moved for some time; so that’s another good check to make. Most flat spots will disappear as the tyre warms up and the tyre ‘rounds out’ but if any strange handling characteristics continue after a few miles, seek expert advice.
If you haven’t been one of the clever guys who removed their battery or had their trickle charger linked up during the winter, charge your battery the day before you use your bike for the first time. Few things are more frustrating than eagerly kitting up in full gear only to find that the starter button doesn’t function! An easy test is to check your headlight and if it’s not 100% brilliant, an overnight charge will generally do the trick. And while you’re at it, check the leads and terminals for corrosion and ensure the connections are tight.
If your chain wasn’t well lubed before winter it’ll certainly need some TLC now. Clean it with a soft brush, ensuring that you remove all the grime. Have a look at the sprockets, clean them and check for wear. Ensure all the links move freely and that it’s tension is within the tolerances recommended in the manual. Finally lubricate the chain and sprockets.
Examine all levers and pedals, ensure they are lubricated and spring back smoothly when released. Damp penetrates the most unexpected places and can cause corrosion so all lights and indicators must be inspected.
Check the fluids. Oil tends to degrade when it sits, so if you didn’t change your oil before putting the bike away, now’s a good time to consider it. Have a look inside the petrol tank, if there’s any water or gunge in there, it’s best to drain it and the fuel lines. Remember that if your brake fluid needs topping up you must use a sealed supply of the same brand that is already in the system.
Finally, try to curb your enthusiasm, you’re keen to hit the road but it’s been some time since your last outing so ease yourself in before letting your hair down. Don’t forget that after a chilly winter there are more potholes around so be vigilant, especially on corners.
At CWAM we use the Acronym POWDER to remind us of the checks we should undertake before we venture out on our bikes. Prior inspection of Petrol, Oil, Water, Drive (chain), Electrics and Rubber (tyres) will contribute to a happy and successful outing.
Now the bike’s sorted out, next month we’ll examine some strategies for keeping safe on the road and becoming a better rider.
Article by Nick Lilley, CWAM Member
If you want to become a better, more confident rider, give us a call at the Coventry and Warwickshire Advanced Motorcyclists (CWAM) and take advantage of our FREE Assessment Ride.
CLICK HERE for more info. and read what other members say about CWAM!
Member since: 11th July 2012
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