While many of us are lucky – or brave enough – to ride all winter long, some have had to perform ritualistic motorcycle maintenance to hibernate their bikes for the winter and wake them up for spring.
Thanks to UK biking experts, Bennetts, we have put together some motorcycle maintenance tips on recommissioning your bike after a winter hibernation. Also, click here to find out how to hibernate your bike for winter.
Chances are that your bike’s brakes may have seized up a little and the fluid will have absorbed some moisture, making them feel spongy. As a minimum, give it a thorough visual inspection and test at walking pace. Clean up any surface corrosion from your brake discs and ensure that any protective fluid you sprayed on has been washed off. If in doubt, change the brake fluid and pads.
If you haven’t had your bike battery on an Optimate tender or trickle charger over winter, your battery will need a dose of TLC. If your battery isn’t sealed, check the water level using distilled water to top up and clean up the terminals using a little grease on the connection. Hopefully a slow charge will bring it back to life. Do be aware that non-use can affect the battery and may ultimately mean that the battery will no longer hold a charge. If the battery struggles to turn the engine over, or quickly loses charge, you should consider replacing the battery – especially if you run additional electrical items such as heated grips, a sat-nav or alarm that place a larger-than-usual strain on the charging system. If you jump-start your battery, immediately go for a ride of at least 30 minutes on a highway where constant throttle will re-charge your battery.
Ideally, you put some fuel additive in the tank before laying up but, if you didn’t, there’s a chance that the fuel will have gone ‘off’ and can lead to the fuel injectors, or carburettor jets on older bikes, getting clogged up. Drain and replace the tank with fresh fuel. If it runs rough, replace the fuel filters and give the the injectors/jets a clean-up.
If you changed the oil and filter before laying up, you’ve probably got nothing to worry about, though we would still check the levels and check for any moisture that may have got into the system. If you didn’t change it, then do it now.
Pay particular attention to your tyres. Check the pressures and make sure that they are as per the owner’s manual. If your bike has not been on paddock stands or moved around over winter, you may find that the weight of the bike has caused some damage to the tyres. If there are any cracks on the sidewalls, change the tyres. Don’t take any chances.
SUSPENSION & STEERING
Give these a thorough inspection, checking for any excessive wear or play in the steering or shock absorbers. Tighten up any looseness in the steering head and check for any leaky fork seals.
If your bike is liquid cooled, check your coolant. Remove the radiator cap when the engine is cold and check to make sure that it is both clean and above the minimum level. Dirty coolant can clog up the radiator and water jackets, so if it doesn’t look clean, flush out the system and replace with a fresh mixture of anti-freeze and water.
Check all your lights are working properly and replace any faulty bulbs or fuses as necessary. Finally, washing your bike is always a good way to get intimate with it and check for any damage or excessive wear. Give your bike a good clean and wax, removing any surface corrosion and oily corrosion inhibitors you may have lashed on before the winter. it also gets rid of the rust inhibitor you will have sprayed on it when parking it up for winter.
And while you’ve given your bike the once over, don’t forget the rider too. Make sure your riding gear is in good condition and still fits well after a winter of indulgence. It’s also advisable to start off with a nice gentle first ride out to get back into the swing of things and blow the cobwebs off both man and machine.