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Getting Ready for Riding Season

Posted on 25 Mar 2011 in Cruiser-Motorcycles, Harley-Davidson | 0 comments

We know not everyone lives at the North Pole like we do, (and by the way, we are pretty jealous that you all get to ride year-round,) but if you store your bike for the winter, it’s pretty important not to just fire her up right out of the gate when the weather starts warming up. If you’re anything like us, your bike is your baby, so here are some general maintenance tips to follow when you’re brushing the dust off and getting your bike ready to rock for riding season.

A general rule of thumb is to do the same things at the start of riding season that you would ordinarily do for a 500-mile service check.

1. All fluids should be drained and replaced. This includes your front end and brake master cylinders, transmission fluid, etc. If your brake fluid looks old, thick, and brown, it’s definitely time to replace it. (And no matter what, you should always be replacing your oil.)

2. If you didn’t drain the gasoline out of your bike before you put it away for the winter, now is the time to do so. You don’t want to start your bike up on old fuel, so put some fresh gas in before you fire it up. (You may also want to think about replacing your old fuel line and filter, neither of which are overly expensive parts.) Also check for rust, and next time you store your bike, use stabilized fuel if you don’t already.

3. While you’re taking a look at your carburetor and the rest of your fuel system, clean up the air filter area and check the element itself. You never know if some poor, freezing animal decided it looked like a great place for a vacation home.

4. We would highly recommend hooking your battery up to some sort of tender or maintainer over the winter, but if you don’t have one and your battery is 2+ years old, just replace it. You’ll save yourself the headache of a shot battery later on, which will probably happen at the least convenient moment.

5. It can never hurt to replace your spark plugs. Just sayin’.

6. Check all cables for free travel and make sure they’re functioning smoothly. (You should remove them and clean them thoroughly once a year, so now is the time to do so if you haven’t.)

7. Take a good look at your drive belt for alignment, any signs of stress or fraying, and proper adjustment. This is one roadside fix you really don’t want to have to do, so if there are any signs of sub-par integrity, you should probably think about replacing it.

8. Check the front end and replace your fork oil if you need to. (It should be replaced once a year, so again, if you haven’t yet, now is the time.)

9. Make sure you’re checking your brakes and electronics as well. Test your headlight, brake light, turn signals, etc. and make sure you don’t have an unwelcome tenant living in your headlight casing.

10. After you’ve completed those items, go ahead and fire the bike up. Let her warm up nice and easy without revving the throttle. When she’s good to go, check the idle speed and make any necessary adjustments. Make sure the kill switch is functioning properly, and that should complete your basic maintenance check.

11. Finally, seeing as how each and every machine is different, make sure you’re checking your owner’s manual and the manufacturer’s service manual for anything bike-specific you may need to take care of. If you’re not comfortable servicing your bike yourself, just take her in to your local shop for a spring tune-up. Happy riding!

12. Many thanks to Dan Krumwiede who pointed out that we forgot to mention checking your tires! This is also pretty important, and we actually have a video on our YouTube channel dedicated to tire tips. Click here!

Share your two cents in the comments below: Do you have any maintenance tips or tricks of the trade to share with your fellow riders?

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