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Spring time for many folks means getting the motorcycle ready for its season of service. There are, of course, the hardcore folks who’ve been riding all year ’round in snow and winter’s wrath — however, most of us choose to hang it up in the winter. For us, de-wintering the bike is on the to-do list.

The cover comes off, the dust settles, and sitting in front of you is what used to be a running vehicle, now a two-wheeled dust collector. The battery goes on the charger and hopefully the fuel-stabilizer you loaded into the tank months ago is doing its thing. So now what?

Well, technically, if you’ve got oil loaded, the bike will start once the battery is charged up, but there’s still a lot to do to perform a more comprehensive check before you roll out. Here’s a list we generally go through when shaking the cobwebs loose:

Check the fuel — duh
Battery – charge it
Oil – change it and make sure it’s the right level
Re-connect fuel line — we remove it for winter
Fuel filter — Clean it
Carb. float — knock any gunk out
Brake fluid — check/refill
Check drive chain/shaft — lube if needed
Chain — tension
Fork oil — check/fill if needed
Cables — check/adjust

It sounds like a lot, but honestly you can run the whole gamut in about two hours with beer and tunes going on in the shop. There’s probably a load of items I’m missing, but it’s the baseline that we perform before cranking our beast up and prowling the pavement. What do you do to get your iron horse up and breathing right for spring? Let us know in comments.

 

18 Responses to Breathing Life Into Your Iron Horse

  1. pirana says:

    I live on the Texas coast so I don’t have to store my bike for winter, hell, that’s my riding season. As for the battery, I leave mine hooked up to a maitenance charger whenever it’s parked even though I ride often enough. I’d also ad to the list checking/airing the tires. Also the air cleaner. You never know what creature might have decided your bike’s airbox made a cozy little den for hibernation.

  2. Mac says:

    Definitely kick the tires. I mean, air them up and inspect up close.

    Too funny – second to last bike I bought, the airbox had a large nest (mice) included. Owner was ‘shocked’. I knocked a few more dollars off my offer.

  3. Fong says:

    Looks like you’ve covered all the essentials. Just as important as tuning up for spring is winterizing in the first place. Trickle charge your battery unless you have a deep cycle and add an additive to your fuel tank so it’s not sludge in the spring.

  4. rg says:

    Are you saying you didn’t drain the carb float bowls? Uh-oh.

  5. sam k says:

    1. don’t only check and adjust the cables, lube ’em also.

    2. check fuel lines, tires, and any other rubber part for a snug fit. temperature changes over the winter could have caused things to become unseated.

    3. the top of the season is a great time to give your safety gear a once-over as well. chips/cracks in your helmet? frays along the helmet chin strap or the seams of your jacket? if your jacket has rigid armor, does it show any cracks? if soft armor, are there any serious creases?

  6. olderthanyou says:

    That’s gamut not gambit. Gamut means the whole range of whatever you might be doing. Gambit is the opening move in games of strategy, particularly chess.

  7. Brice says:

    While you’re at it, take the bike to the nearest empty parking lot and practice your emergency brake and swerving maneuvers. You’re going to the be the rusty part on the bike. At least when you live in Montana.

  8. Bennicus says:

    Inspect your brain bucket. Remove the liner and wash it. Stealthy ninja spiders have forced me to keep mine in a bag. As good a time as any to change spark plugs too.

  9. Brau says:

    Three things:
    1. You just got done tiddlying up the car and suddenly get the bright idea, like I did once, to put Armorall on your bike tires. DON”T!! (hint – it’s a lubricant) It’s even on the directions not to (If like me you never read them) .
    2. Don’t put too much lube on the chain. If it splatters on the side of the tire, it’ll leave you on your butt when you make your first left turn.
    3. Always wear leathers and a full face helmet unless you like having your chin and various extremities ground off on the pavement after hitting a patch of loose sand left over from winter sand trucks.

  10. Patrick says:

    I moved to southern tx and do my best to ride year-long and just do the maintenance once a month. My father does the same thing in northern VA

  11. Josh says:

    Why again aren’t you boys in Texas riding all winter? I don’t know about you, but that’s my best riding time. I ride little in the southern summer heat and humidity.

    For those northern boys that are forced into hibernation, I’d think about doing all the “maintenance” items before you put her away for the winter. Nothing should be stored with old oil in it. I’d also clean and oil the chain prior to storage. Anyone with a bike (or any other toy) should have a battery tender or two.

    Cheers

  12. Audra Heaslip says:

    @olderthanyou:

    Note from editor: Thanks for the correction re: “gambit” – you are indeed correct. Apparently editor’s brain was on vacation that day!

  13. Joshua says:

    Batteries shouldn’t have to charge if they are on a battery tender. I’m waiting for the tire to get back on my “little” bike. I’ve already made a few jaunts on my Ultra Classic.

  14. Josh says:

    Don’t you just hate when those tires done behave.

  15. 99octane says:

    Frankly, letting the battery go down all winter is the best way to throw away a good battery. Below 12.4V the battery plaques start to collect sulfur from the sulfuric acid in the cells. A simple battery maintainer will cost you about 50$ and keep your battery loaded and safe. Storing the bike with a full tank will avoid the need for fuel stabilizers.
    After some months sitting there, the chain WILL need to be cleaned and greased.
    AND you should definitely check tire pressure.

  16. 99octane says:

    It’s better to store the bike lifted with underinflated tires but, if you can’t lift it, then OVERinflate the tires a few extra PSI above standard pressure, to keep them from developing flat spots.

  17. olderthanyou says:

    @ Audra, I really didn’t mean to come off as a pedantic pissant. It’s just that when I make a mistake like that, I hope someone points it out to me so I don’t keep on making that mistake over and over.

  18. Audra Heaslip says:

    @olderthanyou No worries, sir. I appreciate the heads up. That was one I knew and managed to overlook anyway. Thanks for the sharp eye!

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