The seasons affect motorcycle ‘culture’ more than they do any other vehicular culture. It affects the industry in terms of manufacturing and sales. It affects whether people will use their motorcycles. When winter starts to settle in, many motorcycle owners think about locking their rides away for a few months so as not to risk their safety on roads that are wetter and icier than usual. (The paintwork and inner workings may also become damaged by the inclement weather, more so than with four-wheel cars!)
That’s why the spring and summer months tend to be called “motorcycle season” for many enthusiasts. Of course, climate change has messed things around a bit – we’re seeing hotter months stretch a bit further into September and October than we used to – but, in general, this time of year marks the beginning of motorcycle season – a season long-awaited by many riders who are itching to get back behind the handlebars!
Of course, motorcycle season is also the time when many people begin to enter the market for the first time. For those who haven’t quite started riding yet, now is about the time to learn about motorcycle permit test opportunities. For those who are getting their motorcycles out of storage for a spin again, it might be worth having a careful review of the start of your vehicle to ensure that it’s safe to ride after a while being in misuse. This is especially true if it was used a while into the cold and wet months before being put away.
Here’s a quick guide to the things you need to check before you get back out there on your motorcycle!
Air pressure in tires decreases over time, even when not in use. In fact, as those of you with a bit of physics knowledge may know, air pressure decreases faster in colder temperatures. You shouldn’t underestimate the danger that low air pressure in a tire can have – it makes the motorcycle much more difficult to control. It also makes the tires much less resistant to wear and tear. Check the pressure, ensuring there are no flat spots (these can occur when your bike has been stationary for a long time).
Belts and chains
Your motorcycle will have either a drive belt or a drive chain. Either way, you need to make sure they have retained the right amount of tension. Adjusting the tension is pretty easy, but you need the right tools – don’t make the mistake of trying to do the whole thing by hand, because the results won’t be great. It’s unlikely that any tearing or cracking will have occurred while the bike wasn’t in use, but cold temperatures aren’t exactly friendly to belts and chains, so have a good look.
Oil, gas, brake fluid, hydraulic fluid – as with any other vehicle, motorcycles need a lot of fluid. And just as in cars, fluid that just sits there for months may end up degrading. Make sure you review the fluids carefully to ensure that changes in consistency and color don’t signal anything dangerous. Ideally, you should have been keeping an eye of the fluids throughout winter, as a change may have been required during this off-season.
You need to give all of the controls a thorough test before you hit the road. Don’t just move the handlebars left and right and assume everything is fine because the front wheel moved accordingly! You need to check the throttle and the clutch, too. Give your lines and cables a thorough inspection to make sure no off-season damage has occurred such as cuts, leaks, or cracks. Check your horn, all of your lights, and – of course – your brakes. Brake pads need to be checked frequently, and it’s not common for people to have neglected a test before putting their motorcycle away for the off-season. Test both your front and rear brakes and check for any signs of trouble, such as scraping noises.
Don’t get cocky. You may be a pro when it comes to motorcycle use, but not doing anything for a few months – or even a few weeks – can leave you a little bit rusty. So remember to take your time when you hit the road. Motorcycle use relies on distinct skills and muscle movements that driving a car doesn’t utilize at all. Go for a few easy rides when your motorcycle is ready to bring the feeling back. This is basically the equivalent of a warm-up. Many accidents occur during the early stages of this seasons, precisely because a usually-excellent motorcyclist overestimated how sharp their reflexes had remained while the motorcycle had been dormant.