While your motorcycle is perfectly content sitting in hibernation, now is the time when you should start to think about getting it ready for spring.
While preserving it from the worst ravages of the winter is an admirable aim, motorcycles, like all machinery, are best preserved with frequent careful use.
So now we have – we hope – seen the last of the salt gritter, you can get your motorcycle out with a clear conscience and enjoy the first glimmer of spring; just wrap up well, won’t you?
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The first job is to go from stem to stern, looking for frayed cables, chaffed wiring, bald tyres, and loose nuts. I know you did this back in the Autumn, but it’s surprising how often you’ll pick up something you missed!
One other thing to check is the air filter housing, as mice and other pests love nesting in there and it’s easier to pick bits of mouse nest out of your intake system now than after you’ve tried to start the engine.
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Turn the engine over
If you’ve put Redex in the cylinders then you’ll need to remove the spark plugs and turn the engine over a couple of times with a rag held over the plug holes to catch any excess lubricant.
After doing that you can replace the spark plugs and start the engine; it will create a lot of smoke, but that’s just the Redex burning off and it should clear within a minute or so.
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Do your tyres have enough tread? If so, will your tyres last the whole season?
If not, why not replace them now; leaving it until mid-way through the summer might be false economy. Not only are you risking an accident on tyres that are almost due for changing, but if you need to order them your ‘bike could be off the road for weeks, leaving you without wheels when it’s sunny.
If you’ve over-inflated your tyres to prevent flat-spots you’ll need to set them back to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure before you hit the road.
Guide to hibernating your motorcycle for winter.
You’ll need to clean off any WD40 that remains on the frame or the chrome-work from your pre-winter preparation, so you might as well give your motorcycle a good wash and polish at the same time.
You can use exactly the same products that you use on your car, but please don’t use washing-up liquid as it contains salt…
It’s not just your ‘bike, of course. Spring is the time to check your safety equipment and clothing for rips, tears, and general condition. Of course, all clothing shrinks in the winter, an early check gives you time to diet – or buy a new set of leathers…
Helmets need to be checked for dents and scuffs; if in doubt, buy a new one. Crash helmets are always cheaper than the alternative.
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Before you take your motorcycle out for its first run (even if it’s just to the garage for a service) you should check that all the cables are running freely, that the brakes still stop you effectively, and that all your lights are working as they should.
Then take it for a gentle run, speeding up a little once you are certain that everything is operating as it should. That includes you; muscle memory takes a few minutes to kick in, so don’t worry if you’re feeling a bit rusty initially!
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Now is the ideal time to get your motorcycle serviced, and if you time your MOT to coincide with this that’s only one date to remember.
I like to get the brake fluid changed at the same time every year; brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means that it attracts and absorbs water from the air, something it will have been doing all through the damp winter.
While servicing a motorbike is generally an easier job than servicing a car, I still prefer the reassurance of someone else casting their eye over it. It doesn’t need to cost a fortune – especially if you use a good independent garage rather than the dealer – and I think it’s worth every penny for the peace-of-mind it gives.
For more tips and useful information, browse our motoring articles.