Tech Tips

Waking Your Bike From Its Winter Nap

Written by  February 28, 2006

For the last three months here in the Midwest we have had so many moods of Old Man Winter, it is just bizarre! We have seen temperatures ranging from near zero to near 70 in just a matter of weeks. During the slow months after the holidays we have been watching and waiting patiently for the return of riding season. Back in November we briefly talked about the different items that we must focus on to get our bikes ready for the long winter’s nap. We discussed several maintenance items, and now, with spring just around the corner, we must reverse what we did to winterize our bikes in order to get them running and ready for the riding season.

Some of the basic items to look at are the fuel, electrical system and tires.

In my winterization article I mentioned that if you were going to keep a full tank of fuel you should add Stabil fuel preservative to the gas. If that was done, you are one step ahead of the game. If your bike has a carburetor I mentioned draining the fuel (float) bowls. If that was not done, you can do this now. For some Harleys you will need a long standard screw driver to get from one side of the motor to the other to drain the float bowl. You can also do this on a periodic basis to check for water or debris in the carburetor, which is like a window into your fuel tank.

Electrical System
I also mentioned removing the battery and topping off the distilled water in the conventional battery (this is not required if it is a maintenance-free type battery). If the battery has been removed, it is time to put it back into your motorcycle. One quick tip is to spray the battery nuts and bolts with WD40 or equivalent so they will not corrode and cause a bad ground.

Tires have been covered in several articles, and need pressure adjustments. Just because they look fine does not mean they are. All pressure adjustments are different for each motorcycle, and they will either be stamped into the V.I.N. number tag or you can find them in your owner’s manual. Running the tires at max load will not wear out the tires any faster, but will, I think, give a better ride even if you are riding commando.

Visual items that should be checked are as follows:

Turn signals
Headlight (high & low beam)
Brake and taillights
Windshield for excessive scratching and cracks
Oil or gas leakage including the fork seals
Brake fluid level in master cylinder windows

These are all items that can be checked very quickly and determined to either pass or fail in a state inspection. Rear brake lights usually have an adjustable switch to turn on the brake light when force is applied to the rear brake arm. We all know this is a very important light that can save our lives. And speaking of lights, don’t forget to check your headlight and turn signals. Anything leaking such as oil or gas must be addressed immediately because these can be a great safety hazard. Also make sure to check your windshield, and if it is spider cracked, replace it. This is your only clear path of vision, and you want to have an unobstructed view.

Starting your bike and letting it run for several minutes will give you an idea of how everything is operating and should give you a starting point to get any last-minute repairs made that did not get on your New Year’s agenda.

On my tough-o-meter scale this is a whopping 2 because draining the float bowls can be a bit tricky.

Everybody B-safe when getting your bike out of storage, and I’ll see you on the road this spring!

By Dave Miller