Winter and Spring Bike Checks
These articles are from Peggy and Christine, our safety team.
With thanks to Pro Cycle for their excellent tips, here are some pointers for winter storage.
1. LOCATION. Chose a place that is dry and out of harms way. When possible, choose a location out of direct sunlight as the ultraviolet light can fade paint and plastic parts.. Cover the bike with a specially designed bike cover to avoid moisture trapping , rust and mildew.
2. CHANGE THE OIL. Byproducts of combustion produce acids in the oil that harm inner metal surfaces. Warm the engine to its normal operating temperature as the oil drains faster and more completely. Do a filter change at the same time. Pro Cycle, Canada Tire and probably most retailers of these products will dispose of your old oil.
3. ADD FUEL STABILIZER AND DRAIN CARBURETORS. Fill the tank with fresh fuel to the bottom of the filler neck. This provides enough room for expansion in warmer temperatures. Add stabilizer to prevent gumming up the fuel jets and run the engine to cycle through your lines. Shut off the fuel petcock and drain the carburetors and the fuel lines. Note- Some BMW models can’t use Stabilizer containing alcohol.
4. LUBRICATE THE CYLINDER. Remove the spark plug(s) and pour a tablespoon of clean engine oil into each cylinder. Be sure to switch off the fuel before cranking the engine as this may refill your drained carbs. Also ground the ignition leads to prevent sparking. Turn the engine over several times to spread the oil and then reinstall the plugs.
5. BATTERY STORAGE. If stored for a prolonged period in a cold environment, remove the battery. A convention battery may need its cells topped up with distilled water and to be charged. Charge the battery every 2 weeks using a charger that has an output of 10% of the battery ampere hourly rating. If a higher charge is applied the battery may overheat. Also many motorcycle retailers have battery tenders that provide charging as needed.
6. SERVICE ALL FLUIDS. If the brake or clutch fluids haven’t been changed in the last 2 years or 18000kms do it now. These fluids absorb moisture and can cause corrosion. If your motorcycle is liquid cooled, the coolant requires changing every 2 years or 24000 km.
7. FINAL PREPARATION. Give your bike a good cleaning and dry it thoroughly. If your bike is chain driven apply a quality chain lube. Spray a light oil, such as WD40 into the muffler ends and drain holes and give the painted surfaces and non-coated aluminum parts a good wax coat.
Check the air pressures of your tires. If the bike has a center stand, use it and put a block under the engine to raise the front wheel off the ground. If not maximize your load pressure to help prevent flat spotting.
Now you can cover your bike and happily look forward to an early spring.
SPRING BIKE CHECK
It doesn’t matter if you are a hardcore rider, or if you only ride when the price of gas gets too high to drive. No matter the reason, the riding season is here and your motorcycle needs some love if it has been in hibernation mode.
Here is a quick checklist of things to inspect (courtesy of cruisercustomizing.com):
Tires: Check to make sure tires are inflated to the correct air pressure and examine the tread wear. Also make sure that the rubber is plyable and that there are no signs ageing or cracking. Tires have a tendency to dry out and are sensitive to temperature changes. Examine your valve stems. If they are rubber, make sure there are no cracks or visible signs of wear. If you have any doubts about your tires, valve stems or inner tubes, replace them. They are all that stands between you and the road.
Battery: A trickle charger is worth its weight in lead. Hopefully you have maintained your battery’s charge through the winter. If not, you will probably need a new battery. If you have kept your battery on a charger and your bike starts right up after you disconnect the charger, your battery is probably OK. On maintenance style batteries, make sure the fluid level is correct. Have your battery tested if you have any doubts about its condition.
Engine Fluids: Check to make sure your coolant level is correct on water cooled motorcycles, and that your coolant is within the recommended service limits. Examine coolant hoses for signs of ageing and cracks. Make sure that your engine oil and oil filter are within recommended service limits and the oil is at the proper level. It is good idea to start with fresh engine oil and a fresh oil filter if your motorcycle has been sitting for 6 months or more even if the oil is within the recommend mileage and still looks clean.
Final Drive: Inspect your chain and sprockets. Make sure the chain and sprockets are within wear limitations. Make sure that your chain is properly adjusted, lubed and free from rust, kinks and any other visible signs of wear or damage. Make sure that the final drive oil is at the proper level and within service limitations on shaft driven motorcycles.
Air Filter: Inspect your air filter. Replace it if it is a paper type and dirty. If it is a gauze or foam type air filter, it’s always good to start the season with a clean and freshly oiled air filter.
Hydraulic Fluids and Control Cables: Check your brake fluid and hydraulic clutch fluid levels. If your bike has been sitting for 6 months or more, it is a good idea to replace both. Hydraulic fluids have a tendency to absorb moisture which will affect performance. When replacing hydraulic fluids, always use new brake and clutch fluid from a sealed container.
On cable operated brakes and clutches, engage the levers and inspect the exposed portions of the cables. Make sure that there are no signs of cable fraying or rust. The levers should engage and disengage smoothly.
Throttle: Check the throttle to make sure that it operates smoothly. With all control cables, it is best to replace them if there are any signs of possible damage.
Nuts and Bolts: Before riding a bike that has been sitting, it is always a good idea to visually inspect the motorcycle. Make sure that nothing looks incorrect or out of place. Check various nut and bolts for tightness. Make sure that spokes are properly tight if your bike has spoked wheels.