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Tips for preseason motorcycle inspection

Melted Electrical Wires

There are few things more frustrating for a winter weary motorcycle rider than discovering that their motorcycle won’t start on the first good riding day of spring. One thing that surely tops not starting is having a mechanical breakdown a few miles into that first ride. These frustrations, and the expensive repairs that can accompany them, can be avoided.

What Can Go Wrong During Winter Storage

It might seem that nothing should break while a motorcycle sits parked. The ravages of time, the effects of winter cold and simply sitting still, however, can have a surprising impact on a motorcycle’s roadworthiness. Here is a partial list of some things that can go wrong.

  • Gasoline goes bad, especially if it contains ethanoldry rot
  • Condensation in a partially filled gas tank causes rust and/or contaminates fuel
  • Fuel injectors or carburetors become clogged
  • Fuel lines decay – ethanol causes some rubber compounds to deteriorate
  • Tires dry rot
  • Fork seals and other gaskets dry rot
  • Batteries discharge completely and will no longer take a charge
  • Rodents build nests in intake and/or exhaust systems
  • Rodents chew insulation from wiring

Start the Riding Season Right

Many of the possible ill effects of winter motorcycle storage can be minimized or avoided by proper preparations before storage. Whether you properly prepared your motorcycle for storage or just parked it after the last fall ride, it’s wise to perform a thorough preseason inspection before starting your motorcycle. Here’s a few things to check:

  • Look for signs of leaks on the motorcycle and beneath it
  • If the battery was stored in the motorcycle, remove it, inspect for leaks and recharge
  • Look for signs of rodent nests in the exhaust pipes
  • Remove the air filter, look for rodent nests and replace if the filter is dirty
  • Examine the tires – look for cracks in the sidewalls, check tread depth and inflation
  • Perform the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) T-CLOCS inspection

The last item on the list, the MSF T-CLOCS inspection, should be done before every ride. (T-CLOCS stands for tires and wheels, controls, lights and electrics, oil and other fluids, chassis, and stands.) After enjoying the first ride of the new season, consider treating your motorcycle to some preventive maintenance. Doing the basics of changing the oil, oil filter, fuel filter and air filter will go a long way toward keeping your motorcycle running smooth.


Till next time, ride safe!