Springtime check-up for your motorcycle
It doesn't take much effort to get your motorcycle back in action in the spring, providing you removed the battery, filled the tank to the brim and emptied the carburettors before tucking it up for the winter.
Checklist for the start of the season
Installing the battery
So now's the time to fetch the battery, which you (hopefully) stored somewhere frost-free indoors over the winter, and disconnect it from the charger. Once you've re-installed the battery, connect the positive cable first and then the negative cable. Then lubricate the terminals with a little Procycle battery terminal grease. Make sure there are no kinks in the vent hose (this does not apply if you have a maintenance-free battery). However, if you forgot about the battery last autumn and left it in your vehicle, then you will need to remove it now (disconnect the negative cable first) and charge it for a time to allow it to recover. With standard acid batteries, you need to check the level and top it up with deionised water. Of course, this is not necessary with maintenance-free batteries. Unfortunately, if the battery has become deeply discharged over the winter months and the cells are more or less sulphated so that the battery won't charge properly, this means it's time for a new battery. If you lubricated the exhaust and the engine block with fine oil, wipe this off thoroughly and remove any oily cloths from the silencer.
Checking roadworthiness and wearing parts:
- The horn and lights must be working (low-beam, high-beam, brake light, tail light, license plate light, turn signals).
- Check your tyres for signs of ageing, and look for uneven wear. Check the tread with a tread depth gauge. The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6 mm. However, if you want to stay safe in wet road conditions,you should start saving for some new tyres once the gauge hits the 2-3 mm mark. The same applies if the tyres are old and cracked. You can tell how old your tyres are from the production date on the sidewall. For example: 4908 means that the tyre was made in the 49th calendar week of 2008.
- Make sure you change the brake fluid every two or three years because, even in a closed system, the fluid will absorb water over time, which impairs the performance of the brakes. The start of the season is also a good time to check that the brake pads still have plenty of wear left in them. You can find more relevant information in our Tips for DIY Mechanics.
- Occasional bikers should change the fork oil once a year (see DIY tip "Fork seals") – and what better time than the start of the biking season! Otherwise, check the oil change interval specified by the vehicle manufacturer (see DIY tip "Fork seals").
- Replace spark plugs after approx. 10,000 km and paper air filters after approx. 12,000 - 18,000 km (see the vehicle manufacturer's service instructions). Spark plug connectors also age and can cause malfunctions – preventative replacement can safeguard against breakdowns.
- The winter months also bring the risk of rust, so now is the time to check your bike thoroughly and tackle any corrosion. If you forgot to do it prior to "winterising" your bike, now thoroughly lubricate the drive chain, levers and joints. Get rid of any pockets of rust using sandpaper or a wire brush, then prime with a coat of rust protection paint, and finish, e.g. with touch-up or spray paint. Remove any rust on chrome parts using chrome polish, and AluMagic polish is great for treating any signs of corrosion on unpainted aluminium.
- If you didn't change the oil and oil filter in autumn, then you really shouldn't be putting this off any longer (see DIY tip "Oil change").
And before you take your bike out on the road for the first time, remember to check the tyre pressure and make sure it complies with your owner's manual. If you disconnected the fuel hose from the carburettor, now is the time to reconnect it. If you didn't empty the float chambers before winter, there's a strong risk of varying degrees of resin build-up in the carburettor jets. This can be dealt with by adding some carburettor cleaner to the fuel. A good product for this purpose is Procycle Fuel System Cleaner. In stubborn cases, i.e. if the bike continues to start badly or persistently fails to run smoothly, you will unfortunately have no choice but to dismantle the carburettor and clean it thoroughly (see DIY tip "Carburettor").
And now you're ready to safely kick off your new biking season. If your bike's reluctant to fire up first time, then spraying a little Procycle Motor-Start-Fix in the intake tract should do the trick, as it produces a more ignitable mixture. And remember: after the winter break, your reflexes need time to adjust to biking again – so take it easy to begin with, ride defensively – safety first! And on the first outing, it's also best to give your engine a bit longer to warm up (15-20 km), as after the long break there will be condensed water in the engine that needs time to evaporate.
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The Louis Technical Centre
Problems getting spare parts? Or maybe you've got a technical question about your motorcycle or an accessory The Louis Technical Centre can help! Remember to quote all the necessary details of your vehicle – better still, send us a copy of your registration document.
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These tips for DIY mechanics contain general recommendations that may not apply to all vehicles or all individual components. As local conditions may vary considerably, we are unable to guarantee the correctness of information in these tips for DIY mechanics.
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