Getting the bike back on the road in SpringAfter a winter that felt like it would never end, finally the buds are coming out on trees, the grass on lawns is greening up after being covered in winter thatch all these months. The sun is shining, and while the temperature is still nippy, the urge to pull the motorcycle out of hibernation is overwhelming.
Just keep these points on Spring riding in mind and your first ride of the year will fun and exhilerating.
1. Check the bike thoroughly: While the temptation to just thumb the starter button and ride off is huge, do check the bike thoroughly. Much could have happened to the bike over the winter months. From simple things like the tires losing air and becoming under-inflated to more complex problems like mice and rats nesting in the crevices of the bike to keep warm over the winter. So the well worn TCLOCS acronym is very appropriate here.
T - Tires, check for tread and inflation pressure
C - Controls, check for frayed cables, smooth operation of all controls
L - Lights, Check all lights includinhg headlight, driving lights, turn signals and brake lights.
O - Oil, Check for level and condition of oil. If the oil looks black or dirty, try to get it changed before you ride a long way.
C - Chassis, Check for any dents or dings or other problems on the chassis.
S - Sidestand, Check for smooth operation and make sure nothing is attached to the sidestand.
Once the bike passes inspection, start it up and be gentle in accelerating away. Since the oil has been sitting at the bottom of the oil pan all winter give it some time to circulate and lubricate properly.
There's always a debate on whether bikes ought to be warmed up before you ride away. Modern bikes are pretty forgiving and can be ridden away within a minute or so of starting them. A good idea would be to start the bike and pull it out of the gragae and in the time it takes to put on your helmet and gloves (you do ride with a helmet don't you?) the bikes' pretty nicely warmed up.
2. Watch for sand: Once you're underway, keep a wary eye out for sand on street corners and around bends. During the winter if you get any kind of snow in your area, the roads would have been sanded and/or salted and that stuff is still lying around just waiting to trip up the unwary motorcyclist. Generally riding in the track of other vehicles, rather than in the middle of the road allows you to avoid much of the sand, but bends and street corners still require a fair bit of caution.
3. Watch for other vehicles: This would appear to be stating the obvious, but you need to exercise more caution than usual at the start of the riding season each year because drivers in cars have spent the last several months not having to watch out for motorcycles, so they're out of practice. Better to be defensive and take extra precautions yourself than expecting the driver to anticipate you.
4. Be prepared for unpredictable weather: Spring is the time when the weather can change quite abruptly from sunshine to showers, and from a warm afternoon to a cool windy evening. Pack your rainsuit just in case, and dress in layers, so that if the riding gets really warm, you can peel layers off and if it gets cooler, you can start to put the layers back on.
So with these few precautions it's time to start putting miles on the bike again.
Picking up a fallen motorcycle
Riding in the City