April 13 2010 by Jason Fogelson
Last season, we talked about "Putting Your Bike Up for the Winter." Hopefully, you were a good student, and you took some time to make sure that your bike has a safe, uneventful hibernation. Now that the weather is turning pleasant again, it's finally time to bring that sleeping beauty back to life. It will take more than a kiss, but not much more.
Let's start with the tires. In the best of all possible worlds, your bike was supported on a center stand with the wheels off the ground and with the tires deflated. Even if you didn't deflate your tires, inflate your tires to operating cold pressure. Take a moment to inspect the tires and wheels, and make sure that they haven't cracked or sustained any damage over the winter.
Next, inspect your fuel. If you put your bike away with a full fresh tank and fuel stabilizer, you should still have a substantially full tank now. If the tank is low, you have a leak somewhere, and it will need attention before you start the bike.
On to the battery. You did have your battery hooked up to a smart charger this winter, right? If so, you'll probably have enough juice to start up the engine when it's time. If you didn't have the battery on a charge, it's probably dead now, but maybe not. Hook the battery up to a smart charger now, and give it a couple of days. You might get lucky. Or you might be shopping for a new battery.
Oil and radiator fluid. You changed your oil and radiator fluid (if you have a water-cooled engine, that is -- if you have any Harley other than a V-Rod, you don't have a radiator) when you put the bike to sleep. Some mechanics will tell you that an inspection is all you need at this point. I'm a little nuts, so I change my oil and filter in the spring, and if I had a radiator, I'd flush it and put in new fluid, too.
Lube your cables. Most motorcycles have cables connecting the clutch, throttle and brake controls to their respective mechanical destinations. Each of these cables needs to be lubricated and adjusted, and this is a good time to do it. Check your owner's manual or shop manual for instructions.
Wash your bike. Even if you covered your ride for the winter, I'll bet it's coated with a fine layer of dust right now. Get our bike out in the driveway or yard, and give it a good washing and detailing. Use the process to inspect the rest of your bike for loose fasteners, trim and other little issues. Fix everything you can as soon as you find it.
Now, it's time to ride. Don't forget to put on the proper gear -- helmet, jacket, pants, boots and gloves -- and take it easy. Not only has your bike been asleep for the winter, your riding skills have been in suspended animation as well. Pay close attention, start slowly, and ride safely.
Get out there, and enjoy the spring on your motorcycle!