Updated August 2, 2019 . AmFam Team
When the snow finally melts, winter says its goodbyes and you welcome the arrival of spring, there’s one thing on your mind: getting your motorcycle back on the road (Opens in a new tab). While you give your motorcycle regular maintenance during the warmer months, it likely needs a little bit more love after hibernating all winter. That’s why we put together a list of motorcycle maintenance tips to get you ready for the spring.
Start where your bike meets the road and give the tires a thorough check before you start the engine. Here’s how you can make sure your motorcycle’s wheels are ready for spring:
Check the tire pressure. You always want to check your motorcycle's tire pressure when your tires are cold, which shouldn’t be a problem since it’s been in your garage since last fall. Grab a tire pressure gauge and your motorcycle’s manual and see if they’re within the recommended range. Underinflated tires will cut down on your gas mileage and overinflated tires will be more susceptible to wear and other damage. Plus, they’re both much more dangerous to drive on.
Give them a closer look. Take the time to look closely at both tires and spot any cracking or other signs of a leak like punctures. If you notice wear, swap out the tires as soon as possible. Driving on a damaged tire is never worth the risk.
Know your tires’ story. Different styles, brands and types of tires will have different lifespans and fare better in certain conditions. If you bought your bike used, you should have gotten details on how long the tires have been used, mileage and where it was driven. Research the specific tire model, its lifespan and find its date code on the actual tire. If you’re not sure, take your bike to a repair shop or dealer to get more info and an inspection.
The brake system is probably the most ignored part of your motorcycle. When it works, you don’t think about it — and when you notice something wrong, you need to take it in right away. Avoid an expensive and potentially dangerous problem by checking these parts of your brakes:
Check the brake fluid. Motorcycle manufacturers’ recommendations will vary, but the general rule of thumb is that you should change your brake fluid at least once every two years. Refer to your owner’s manual and manufacturer tutorials if you want to do it yourself, or hand the job off to a pro.
Making sure your brake fluid is within the recommended range, however, is something you can do every time you hop on your bike. Make sure it’s at its maximum level at the start of spring by checking the gauge usually located near your handlebars for your front brake and near the back tire for the rear brake. If it’s low, fill it with manufacturer-recommended brake fluid.
Peek at the brake pads. When brake pads wear down and aren’t replaced on time, your bike could suffer some seriously damaging and expensive consequences. Most brake pads will have an indicator visible without having to take your bike apart, so make sure you understand how it works and how it indicates that a change is necessary. And if you’re not comfortable handling the job yourself, it’s not all that expensive to outsource it to a mechanic.
Once you’ve checked the parts of your bike that keep you on the road and stop you when you need to, it’s time to check out some of the parts not visible to the naked eye:
Check the oil. You may have changed your oil and replaced the filter when you winterized your bike, but if not, you’ll want to do that now — it’s good to give it a healthy start to the riding season.
Test your battery. When your motorcycle sits still for months at a time, especially in less-than-ideal weather, your bike’s battery’s life can be shortened. It’s smart to charge it occasionally throughout the winter months, but if you forgot to do so, it may need replacing. If you’re having trouble getting your battery to work, remove it and take it to a local hardware store that offers battery testing.
Look at the fuel filter. Your motorcycle’s fuel filter is crucial to the health of your engine. Give your bike a clean start by replacing the fuel filter and filling it up with a fresh tank of gas before you take it out for a long ride.
Check the bike’s spark plugs. Most manufacturers will recommend that you check your spark plugs every 4,000 to 5,000 miles, but even if you didn’t ride your bike that much last year, you should still inspect them. Take a look at each one individually and keep an eye out for oil leakage, ash deposits or overall wear and tear. If you notice wear and tear or are concerned about their condition, replace them — they’re a small price to pay for a clean-running ride.
Inspect other often-ignored moving parts. The chain, kickstand, throttle shifter — all these parts can get dried out and even rusty while in storage. And while they’re considered minor when compared to your tires, brakes and engine, they’re still important! Lubricate where you need to and avoid having to make a frustrating fix early in the season.
Once you’ve inspected and tested your motorcycle, clean and shine it up make sure you're ready to ride with proper etiquette before you take it out on the road — then, make sure you’re protected from the unexpected with the right motorcycle insurance. Your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) is dedicated to making sure your coverage is customized to fit your specific needs. Get in touch today and get the peace of mind you deserve.