This past winter has been extreme, with some of the coldest temperatures in years. These cold temps likely saw many motorcycle riders store their motorcycles under cover waiting for the Polar Vortex to retreat.
As spring transitions into summer, it’s time to dust off the bike and head back out onto the road. But, before you strap on your helmet and thumb the starter, here are my three tips for getting back on the road this summer.
1) Performing Maintenance
Before taking your first ride you’ll need to make sure your motorcycle is up to the task. Hopefully you put your motorcycle away properly last fall, so it takes minimal effort to bring it to life. If not, you may be in for some frustrating downtime.
a) Fuel System
One of the most common pre-season mechanical problems involves the fuel system. It is caused by riders parking their bikes without adding fuel stabilizer to the gasoline. The problem is that old fuel turns into a gooey varnish that can clog the small passageways in the fuel system. This is a significant problem on motorcycles with carburetors, but even fuel-injected bikes can be affected.
If you neglected this task you may be looking at the time and expense of a thorough fuel system cleaning. If the gas in your tank is old it’s best to resist starting your motorcycle. Instead, drain the old fuel from the tank (and drain the carburetors if applicable). This can prevent stale gas from circulating through the system. If your bike runs poorly even after draining the gas, consult a mechanic and learn your lesson by storing your bike properly next time!
b) Air Filter
Check your air filter, as rodents seem to be particularly attracted to building nests in air boxes. Remove any debris and replace the filter if it looks particularly dirty.
Tire pressure will drop significantly over the winter and nothing affects handling and wear more than very low tire pressure, so be sure to put a gauge on those stems before the motorcycle rolls out of the garage. If the tread is worn near the tread-wear indicators, or if the tires show any signs of rot, now’s a good time to replace the old tires with new rubber.
d) Drive Train
While you’re down there, check drive train wear. Sprockets should show no significant signs of hooking and the chain should not pull very far away from the back of the sprocket. Replace the chain and sprockets as a set if necessary. If all looks good, check the adjustment and give the chain a good lube. Hopefully you lubricated the chain before storage, which means no rust should be present. If this duty was neglected, give the chain a clean and lubricate it before the first ride, then perform a more thorough lubrication after the chain is warm.
e) Engine Fluids
Check your oil level, or better yet, change the oil and filter if you didn’t do it before tucking your bike away last fall. Old engine oil contains acids that are best removed. If your bike is liquid-cooled, check coolant levels, including the fluid in your overflow tank (see your owner’s manual).
It is important you maintain your brakes. Squeeze the front brake lever and press on the rear brake pedal to feel for a firm application. Look in the sight glass or at the brake master cylinders to see that brake-fluid levels are good and if the fluid is the color of apple juice or darker, plan on replacing it soon.
Grab a flashlight and take a close look at your front and rear brake calipers to see how much brake pad material there is remaining. Most brake pads have a notch cut into the pad as a wear indicator. If in doubt, have the pads replaced. It’s cheap insurance.
Weak or dead batteries are another common mechanical issue that can stand in the way of reviving a motorcycle after a long period of dormancy. Hopefully you kept your battery charged. If not, you will likely have to charge the battery before it will start the engine. If it will not hold a charge, a new battery is in your future.
h) Lights, Cables, and Fasteners
Once your battery is good to go, be sure to check that all of your lights are operational. Check that both front and rear brake-light switches illuminate the brake light. Check turn signals, taillight, and headlights (high and low beam) to make sure they work.
Confirm that the throttle, clutch and brake (if applicable) cables operate smoothly before heading out. Finally, go around the whole bike, tightening any loose fasteners.
2) Awakening the Rider
Now that you’ve made sure your motorcycle is ready to roll, you can think about your first ride. A word of caution before you press the starter button: spending many months in a car can cause you to become oblivious to motorcycle issues like visibility or road surface hazards.
It’s a good idea to begin your season by taking a refresher course with a local motorcycle-training program. It’s also smart to take some time to brush up on your emergency skills in a parking lot. Whether you choose to attend a formal rider course or go it alone, we recommend that every rider practice the critical skills by performing some cornering and braking drills. Here are three basic, slow-speed exercises to awaken your inner rider.
3) Summer Roads and Inattentive Drivers
Even if you and your bike are fully ready for the new season, remember that the roads may not yet be motorcycle-friendly. Roadways take a lot of abuse from snowplows scraping the surface and from the effects of repeated freezing and thawing. Expect surface hazards during the early summer until the earth thaws and the road crews can repair the scars.
And remember that drivers aren’t used to seeing motorcycles on the road, so be extra vigilant when riding in traffic.
Study your owner’s manual and perform these routine tasks so you are prepared for the upcoming season. Also, be sure to carefully evaluate road conditions before venturing out. Taking the time to prepare for the upcoming season can ensure it is a safe and enjoyable one.
With the help of a motorcycle owner’s manual, someone with moderately competent mechanical skill can perform most of the tasks we are about to discuss. For tasks that are not covered in your owner’s manual, please consult your dealer’s service center. These are the eight most important things to check on your motorcycle.
Source: Written by Ken Condon for Fix.com
The First Ever Running the L.A.W. ladies annual weekend brought over 100 women on bikes of every make and model to Palm Desert for a weekend of riding and fun. Participants came from California, Arizona, Nevada, and even as far as Texas, to mix and mingle with their fellow sisters who ride. The itinerary of events included Karaoke on Friday, 2 Morning Rides to Historic Hwy 74 on Saturday, the pool party, and evening dinner and western dance, Saturday night, and the bike blessing on Sunday morning led by LA’s own, Pastor Powell. This first from Thanks to this year’s event sponsor, Law Tigers and Aflac for helping to make this event a huge success! Special thanks to HDTV and Byte Syze for providing Video and Photography, and DJ Craig for the sounds all weekend long! We are proud supporters of this weekend and look forward to next year’s Running the L.A.W. Ladies Annual Weekend!
To celebrate the Sisters Who Ride “Running the L.A.W.” Ladies Annual Weekend, we’ve designed a limited edition tee. Tees may be purchased online at www.blackgirlsride.com/shop and will be available for pick up at the event. For full event info, visit www.runningthelaw.eventbrite.com. Don’t miss this wonderful weekend!
The 2nd annual “All Girls on Ground Ride” took place on Saturday May 17, 2014. Ladies from all over Southern California met in Los Angeles for a leisurely ride to Quaid Harley Davidson in Temecula, CA. The ride is organized annually by the women of L8D Ryders to allow women from all walks of life to join together and ride. Beautiful Bikers and Black Girls Ride were proud to be a part of this wonderful event!
The Atlantic Beach Female Takeover is coming to Atlantic Beach in just 1 week! Be sure to wear purple to show your support for the Lupus Awareness, and use #beautifulbikers or #blackgirlsride on instagram, so we can share your pics!
“THE PURPLE PASSION RIDE”
*purple symbolizes royalty, sophistication & Lupus Awareness*
Saturday May 24, 2014
Meet up Spot : Hooters
10133 N Kings Hwy
Myrtle Beach, SC 29572
Meet up: 10:45am
Kickstands up: 11:45am
Escorted by Horry County Sheriff
Free Brunch Courtesy of CAROLINA KNIGHT RIDERS (Bike Week Founders)
2001 Star Bluff Rd
Longs, SC 29568-7714
*ALL LADIES PHOTO TAKEN AT THIS LOCATION*
Ending ride at Atlantic Beach
Now that riding season is upon us, women are gathering up the courage to join the sisterhood of women riders, and choose their very first bike. Whether you choose a Harley or Sportbike, a big bike or small one, be sure to choose the bike that fits for you. The legendary NDN RED of the OG Route 66 MC offers some words of advice:
•Encouraging words for all sisters out there that want to ride•
I have been riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles for 32 years this year. I learned in 1982 on a brand new 1983 Wide Glide exactly like the one pictured here. I was less than one third of the age I am now and about half the size I am now. I always hear women that are new to riding talk about “starter” bikes. Oftentimes, what happens is women invest money and time into a bike that they rapidly outgrow and then are stuck with. I feel that women should not embrace the mindset that they have to have a starter bike. Develop the confidence and attitude that no matter what size bike it is that they should ride the one that they want to own and ride. Have heart. Work it out.
I know that this advice is not for everyone, but if this post speaks to you then put your big girl panties on and biker up!
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t let anyone talk you into a small 250 if you feel you want more power or a big Road Glide if it’s not comfortable for you.
- Be sure to test your options before you make a purchasing decision. Visit different Motorcycle shops and actually sit on the bikes. There are some who will allow you to take a test ride, if you have an M1 license.
- Don’t buy a bike because of someone else’s riding style.
- Don’t buy a bike without an experienced rider. This is especially true for used bikes.
- Don’t be afraid to start big. Some bikes may be intimidating because of the engine size, but remember, it’s better to have the power and not need it, than to not have the power.
- Listen to yourself. Trust yourself to know what you can and can not handle.
For those of you making the decision to join us on ground, welcome to the sisterhood of Beautiful Bikers!