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Motorcycle prep: Four things to do before spring

Added March 3, 2017
man working on motorcycle tank

Contrary to what motorcycle riders might feel, winter doesn’t last forever. Just when you’ve had enough of the cold and snow, the first day of the riding season suddenly arrives. March 20 is technically the first day of spring. However, experienced riders know the first good riding day has more to do with weather than what it says on a calendar. 

To get ready, here are four things you can do to be prepared for spring and the new motorcycle riding season.

Planning

All successful endeavors begin with solid planning, and this applies to being ready to ride on the first beautiful day. It’s not as simple as pulling off the cover, turning the key, and taking off. Planning starts with accessing your motorcycle riding readiness. Here are three main areas you need to evaluate:

  • Your motorcycle’s condition 
  • Your riding skills and knowledge
  • Your riding gear

Once you know where things stand for both you and your bike, you can move forward with bringing everything up to speed when it comes to readiness.

Scheduling

It’s surprising how many riders don’t plan ahead, discovering they’re not ready to ride when the first pretty day arrives. This results in a flood of service calls at motorcycle shops, whose appointments will fill up for weeks. In addition, rider education course schedules will soon be booked through mid-summer. 

Good planning will serve you well. Now is the time to pull out the calendar and schedule a spring tune-up or repairs and reserve a space in a rider education course. With appointments successfully scheduled, it’s a good idea to review things one more time. 

Inspecting

Most of us have a pretty good idea of the mechanical shape our motorcycle was in when we stored it for the winter. But time changes everything. Give your motorcycle a thorough inspection. If anything seems like it might need extra servicing, call the shop and update them.

Regarding inspection, T-CLOCS is a familiar term for motorcycle riders. You should know it, love it, and memorize it, as it deals with maintenance for your bike throughout the year—not just for spring. It stands for:

  • Tires
  • Controls
  • Lights and electronics
  • Oil and other fluids
  • Chassis
  • Stands

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends a T-CLOCS inspection before any ride, but especially after a motorcycle has been hibernating during a long winter. Doing this inspection will take a little time, but when it comes to safety, time shouldn’t be a factor. If you’re not comfortable doing these tasks yourself, have the service shop take care of it during that scheduled appointment.

They’re familiar with the routine, and will probably have it back to you in no time.

Inspections shouldn’t be relegated to just your motorcycle. Pull out all your riding gear and examine it carefully to ensure it is still roadworthy. Here’s a quick checklist in regard to gear:

  • Does it still fit?
  • Is the stitching and material on your jacket, chaps, or riding-suit sound?
  • Are all the zippers, snaps, belts, and other hardware in working order?
  • Has your helmet been damaged? Is it too old (more than five years)?

Repairing or replacing worn-out gear before the season starts will get you ready for a safe start.

Refreshing your skills

Even riders with years of experience will need to refresh their riding skills after a few months out of the saddle. Give yourself some time to get reacquainted with your bike. 

This is a good reason for taking a rider education course at least every other year. Whether you’re taking a class this year or not, practicing basic riding skills is an important thing to do on a regular basis, especially at the beginning of a new season. Here are some skills to work on:

  • Braking
  • Swerving
  • Cornering and counter-steering
  • Obstacle avoidance
  • Scanning for hazards

Depending on how early you’re hitting the road after the snow is off the road, road conditions could be quite rough after a winter of freezing and thawing. Road crews spend a good portion of spring fixing potholes and cracks in the road—major hazards for motorcycles. Ride with caution, watch your speed, and wear protective clothing in the event something unfortunate does takes place.

Reviewing materials from your last rider education course and exploring other areas of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation online library is also beneficial.

Till next time, get ready and ride safe!