It’s almost here! Can you hear it? Can you feel it? No! You can’t! It’s too bloody cold! It’s winter in Wisconsin and we’re gonna be waiting a while yet. But this is the (near) perfect opportunity to check over our bikes and make sure everything is in tip top shape! We don’t want the riding season to pick up and leave without us, do we? It would be terrible to feel the warmth of the sun on a beautiful, dry day with a slight overcast maybe naught but a gentle whisper of a breeze in the air and miss it completely BECAUSE YOUR BIKE IS IN PIECES!!
Yeah. Been there. It’s not pretty.
So, let’s make sure we’ve got everything in line this year. Spark plugs, oil filter, oil changed, drive chain lubed, axles greased, brake calipers adjusted, brake pads replaced if necessary, check for cracks in ALL wires, tension on spokes (if applicable), ignition system (points set, choke cable lubed), battery charged (it was on a trainer, right?), throttle cables lubed, idler set, clutch plates replaced if necessary, brake fluid changed or topped off, brake and clutch cables lubed and adjusted, battery fluid maintained (if applicable), all major hardware tightened (…most, if not all, hardware is essential and critical on a two-wheeled vehicle), windshield and dash gauges cleaned and visible, handlebars adjusted (they can come loose so give em a quick check), fuel petcock adjusted, fuel filter replaced or cleaned (if necessary), tire air pressure adjusted, gas in the gas tank, carbs cleaned and adjusted or regasketed (I’d say 90% of first-run-of-the-season problems are associated with the carbs), air filters washed or replaced, light bulbs checked and maintained, sprockets checked for wear, drive chain checked for slack (or drive shaft oil replaced or topped off), etc.
You realize that as I’m saying all this I’m nearly drooling at the mouth with excitement and anticipation. I don’t claim to be an authority on bikes. I’m just sincerely, genuinely excited about motorcycles. More about what makes me go ga-ga for two-wheels later…
The nice thing about motorcycles is that there really isn’t that much to them. Everything I listed above is pretty standard stuff that I just pulled off the top of my head. I’m sure if I was standing in front of my bike I’d slap my head and say “how did I forget to mention that!?” But for the most part this is a good start.
Want a great start? Buy the 3rd party service manual for your bike. These books are worth their weight in gold for the novice motorcyclist and hold their value for a long time to the owner as he progresses in his motorcycle knowledge, which we now know is relative to the amount, shape, and cut of the rider’s facial hair. Chuck full of information about how to disassemble and check every component associated with your bike, it is an invaluable tool. And I think they are usually somewhere in the range of $20, or thereabouts. But there are online resources that sell the books used for a fraction of the cost; invest in reusing materials when you can. Plus, the knowledge you will learn will help you become a pro with your bike, but the practice you have repairing your ride will make you stand out amongst the other riders as a wizard or some knowledgeable source, and allow you to help novice riders with the maintenance and troubleshooting of issues with their bikes.
Of course, there is a small risk associated with repairing your own bike: all the responsibility is yours and yours alone for any incorrect repair made. Are you prepared to deal with the consequences should the repairs prove detrimental to your ride? Or even worse, cause injury?
Just making sure…
Oh yeah, that helmet that’s been sitting for a few months, time to dust him off, clean the visor, check the padding and maybe shine the whole thing. Gotta look good, you know?
But it’s too darn cold out there right now. Guess I’ll start preparing the bike in a few more months, when it’s warmer, and the snow melts. Ah, the joys of Wisconsin winters…said no one ever.