Warmer weather, longer days, cool breezes, more sunshine. What more could you ask for? The feel and sound of a motorcycle rumbling down the road. Your motorcycle. Your ride. Your day is today. Welcome to Inspiration Friday: Spring Riding Season this week in March! Riding season is right around the corner and now is the time to get ready to rumble! While the salt, snow and ice melt away in the North and the rain and cold subsides in the South, get your bike (and you) prepped to thumb that starter. Read on below for the best tips and time saving tricks…
Total Motorcycle would like to thank Yamaha and congratulate Marie Herrera for inspiring us to bring you this week’s Inspiration Friday: Spring Riding Season. Each week we bring you another Inspiring Motorcycle story to inspire you to get out and ride! Thank you for your support for visiting us and supporting us at Patreon for just $1 a month.
Getting your Bike out
Firstly, did you store your motorcycle properly for the winter? Yes, will then you are well prepared to hit the road. What I like to do is change that oil and filter off the start as acids will accumulate in the oil over the winter if your bike sat for months waiting for nicer temperatures. If you took your battery out, charge it up to full now and go over your bike, check the tire pressures, coolant, oil, cables, bulbs, headlight, horn and most importantly and commonly forgotten, all the bolts are still tight! Did you lube and adjust your chain, belt or re-oil the shaft drive?
If you did not store your bike properly, and yes, we are all guilty of doing that, then not only do the above but not you’ll have to check for rust and damage as motorcycles DO NOT like to sit idle for long periods of time. That battery is most likely bad, that gas will have to be drained as it’s bad, those carbs (or fuel injectors) will need to be cleaned, check the tires are not sidewall cracked, rotted or have flat spots! Lube the bike all over, check for rust everywhere and address it now before it spreads.
I use the expression, TIME or MONEY, your choice. If you had the time to prep your bike right, less money, otherwise, more money because you didn’t take the time. Makes sense right?
Onto YOU now.
Check your gear, it is older than 5 or 6 years old? Maybe it’s time to visit the dealership (please not Amazon) and keep them in business, god knows they need your support now more than ever. Check the helmet, are your gloves faded and worn? Does your boots need walking to the curb? Maybe this is the year for riding jeans vs Levi’s? Treat yourself to some new updated gear (see our reviews).
Skills. Our staff members, Eric and Carrie Leaverton are certified motorcycle safety instructors and have some tips for you with their videos and spring advice we will post shortly. Keep those skills up, why not go through our legendary Motorcycle Beginner’s Guide and refresh yourself on the basics. Also we will be reviewing even more gear, more bikes and more motorcycle gadgets for you soon!
Ah, insurance. Check to see if your insurance is valid and up to date. Also check around for better deals as some insurance companies are more FRIENDLY to motorcyclists with their premiums. Insurance where I live goes from $400 to $4000 a year depending on the company and rider, it pays to shop around.
Well, you are in luck! With 2020 being a bad year for dealerships they have a lot of leftover bikes on they want to sell, but not for long! Once the warmer weather hits, they will be gone. Used? Well, you should have bought in the fall or winter as that is traditionally the BEST pricing (Time or Money remember?). Spring is the worst time to buy a used bike unfortunately but early Spring you might just squeak a deal if you are lucky!
Looking to buy new or upgrade? Well sir and madam, step right up, you have come to the right place! Can I interest you in any bike from any manufacturer from 1970 to 2022? Right here, right now on TMW.
Things you CANNOT control.
The roads. Is there gravel, salt, ice or debris on the roads from winter? Most likely there is! Personally, I won’t ride till our “street sweepers” sweep the streets and/or it rains a few times to wash away that salt. Salt is the enemy of motorcycles since their parts are VERY exposed to rusting. Also all that gravel can catch you unawares on that corner so pay extra ATTENTION when you ride. I don’t want to start the riding season with my bike in the shop for the next month while my friends are out riding.
Inspiration Friday: Spring Riding: It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Let’s be SAFE out there and have FUN while reading Total Motorcycle daily! 🙂
Storing your bike for winter
Well, it’s that time of year again! Soon the snow will be falling and the motorcycles will be tucked away for the winter
And each spring your dealer’s phone will ring off the wall with customers who did not store the ol’ bike properly and now wonder why it won’t run.
Some preparation now will ensure that you are out riding in the spring instead of waiting in the dealer’s lineup.
1. Location – where are you going to put it?
One solution may be to ask your dealer if he offers a storage program. This is ideal because he will often prep, store, and have the bike ready to ride when you are ready again. If you decide to store it yourself, you will need a place that is dry and out of harm’s way.
When possible. Chose a location away from windows. The ultraviolet light can fade paint and plastic parts. Direct sunlight can raise the ambient temperature of the storage area which will promote condensation when the sun goes down, so cover plain glass with some sort of opaque material. Also, cover your bike with a specially designed bike cover not a sheet or a tarp. Why? Because a sheet absorbs moisture and hold it against metal surfaces and then rust forms. Also, damp fabric will breed mildew and this may attack the seat material. A tarp prevents moisture from getting in but it also prevents it from getting out. Moisture trapped will condense on the bike and then the rust monster is back!
A specially designed motorcycle cover is made of a mildew resistant material. The material is slightly porous, so it can breathe.
2. Change The Oil
Tip: Just like cars a colder winter grade oil will allow your bike to start easier in colder weather. If your motorcycle runs ok with a cold winter grade oil (5w30) then changing the oil to this grade will help startup and running in spring.
Even if the oil is not due for a change, byproducts of combustion produce acids in the oil which will harm the inner metal surfaces. Warm the engine to its normal operating temperature, as warm oil drains much faster and more completely.
While you are at it, why not change the filter too? Add fresh motorcycle grade oil. Remember to dispose of the drained oil and old filter in a responsible manner. What to do with the old oil? Recycle it. Most stores you have purchased the oil from will take it back free of change to be recycled.
3. Add Fuel Stabilizer And Drain Carbs
Tip: You only need to drain the carbs if your motorcycle will be stored more than 4 months. Otherwise just add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank, run the bike for 10 minutes so it mixes and gets into the carbs.
Fill the tank with fresh fuel, but do not overfill. The correct level is when the fuel just touches the bottom of the filler neck. This gives enough room for the fuel to expand without overflowing the tank when temperature rises.
Shut off the fuel petcock and drain the carburetors and the fuel lines. Add winterizing fuel conditioner to prevent the fuel from going stale, and help prevent moisture accumulation. Stale fuel occurs when aromatics (the lighter additives) evaporate leaving a thicker, sour smelling liquid. If left long enough, it will turn into a gum, plugging the jets and passages inside your carbs!
4. Lube the cylinder(s)
Tip: You only need to do this if your motorcycle will be stored a very long time (6 months or more)
Because gasoline is an excellent solvent and the oil scraper ring has done its job, most of the oil from the cylinder walls have been removed since the last time the engine was run. If the cylinder wall is left unprotected for a long period of time, it will rust and cause premature piston and ring wear.
Remove the spark plugs and pour a tablespoon (5 cc) of clean engine oil or spray fogging oil into each cylinder. Be sure to switch off the fuel before you crank the engine or else you may refill the drained carbs! Also, ground the ignition leads to prevent sparks igniting any fuel residue. Turn the engine over several revolutions to spread the oil around and then reinstall the plugs. Refitting the plugs before cranking the engine could result in a hydraulic lock if too much oil was used in the cylinder.
5. Battery Storage
The battery must be removed from the motorcycle when it is in storage. Motorcycles often have a small current drain even when the ignition is switched off (dark current), and a discharged battery will sulfate and no longer be able to sustain a charge.
A conventional battery should be checked for electrolyte level. Add distilled water to any of the cells that are low and then charge the battery.
Battery charging should be performed at least every two weeks using a charger that has an output of 10% of the battery ampere hour rating. For example if the battery has an AH rating of 12 (e.g. 12N12A-4A-1 where the 12A is 12 amp hours), then the charge rate of that battery should not exceed 1.2 amps. A higher charge will cause the battery to overheat. Charge the battery away from open flame or sparks as the gas (hydrogen) given off a battery can be explosive. Elevate the battery and keep it from freezing. Exercise the proper caution appropriate to caustic substances.
6. Surface Preparation
Waxing and polishing the motorcycle might seem like a waste of time since you are putting it away and no one will see it. But applying wax is a very important part of storing a motorcycle.Wax will act as a barrier against rust and moisture.
Don’t forget to spray any other metal surfaces (such as the frame or engine) will a very light spray of WD-40. This will keep these areas shiny and protect from corrosion as well.
7. Exhaust and Mufflers
Exhausts/Mufflers are known to rust fast when they are not used. So making sure they are properly stored for the winter on your bike will save them from an early rusty death. Spray a light oil (such as WD40) into the muffler ends and drain holes. Lightly stick a plastic bag (shopping bag is fine) into the end of each muffler hole (to keep moisture from getting inside the exhaust). Then cover each muffler with another plastic bag to keep outside moisture off.
Check both front and rear tires with your air pressure gauge. Make sure each tire is properly inflated to the maximum recommend pressure. As it gets colder, air condenses in your tire so it is important to pump them up as to keep your tires healthy. Rubber is a flexible material and does not like to freeze (it cracks when it freezes). Placing 1/4″-1/2″ piece of cardboard or wood board under each tire will help keep the rubber raised up from a freezing floor.
DO NOT use a tire dressing on tires (such as Armor-All or tire cleaning foam) as this will make the tires hard and slippery.
9. Service all fluids
If the brake or clutch fluids haven’t been changed in the last two years or 18,000 km (11,000 miles), do it now. The fluids used In these system are “hygroscopic” which means that they absorb moisture. The contaminated fluid will cause corrosion inside the systems which may give problems when the motorcycle is used next spring. Be sure to use the correct fluids and note the warnings and instructions in the service manual. If you don’t have the experience to service these systems, contact your dealer, he will be happy to assist you.
If your motorcycle is liquid cooled, the coolant requires changing every two years or 24,000 kms (15,000 miles). Make sure that the engine is cool enough to rest your hand on it before draining the system and please dispose of the coolant responsibly. Coolant/antifreeze is available from your dealer and has been developed to provide the correct protection for your motorcycle engine. Mixed 50/50 with distilled water will ensure a clean system for the next two years or 24,000 kms (15,000 miles).
10. Cover it.
Now you can cover the bike with the cycle cover and look forward to the first warm day of spring.
Back On The Road
Before you head out onto the highway, there are a couple of things to do. First, remove the cover and put it where you can find it again. Talking of finding things, locate the (charged) battery and reinstall it connecting the positive (+) cable (red) before the (-) negative and covering the terminals with the plastic covers. Recheck all fluid levels and turn on the fuel. Check for anything wrong on the motorcycle (cracked tires, broken parts/plastic, leaking oil). Set the tire pressures back to riding specs and you are ready to fire up.
As you don your riding gear, remember that your riding skills will be a little rusty and the road surfaces will have changed a bit since the last ride, so go carefully. Sand/salt deposits on the edge of the road and especially at corners may be hazardous.