Hopefully spring may have finally arrived. Certainly from where I’m standing, the sun is shining and the roads are starting to dry nicely which means many of us will be looking at getting their bikes out of the stables with the mind occupied with thoughts of a good riding season ahead.
Without teaching granny different methods of egg consumption I thought it worth reminding you nice folks of a few basics before you throw your leg over and ‘head out on the highway, looking for adventure…'
So, stop, breathe and count (or rather read) to 10.
1 - RUBBER. Check tyre pressures, check wear level, check for damage, snagging and contaminants (perished, damaged and foreign object damage i.e. nails, screws, glass)
2 - WHEELS. When you check your rubber you will need to turn the wheels so that is an opportunity to check your wheels do actually turn freely. Grab then with both hands and give them a sturdy wobble to check for play in the wheel bearings. This will also help identify if your brakes and discs have any issues.
3 - BRAKES. Hoses, look for Damage, deformity, splits, cracks and brittleness - look for leakage and seepage. Check the levels in your reservoir and the levers and pedals for positive ‘non-spongey’ action and return. Remember, your lever should NOT come back and touch the bars with pulled! Brake Pads, look for damage, wear and debris in the pads and check the discs for cracks, splits and chunks missing. Also, RUST! How much has grown on the disc since you laid the bike up? And even if you are happy everything is fine, always perform a rolling brake check when you first ride. Remember you have two brakes, check and use both accordingly!
4 - FUEL. Do you have some and depending on how long your bike has been sat, is the fuel you have dirty and likely to cause the bike to stall.
5 - OIL. (and other fluids). Yes, have a look! Is there some? Does it leak, has it leaked?
6 - DAMAGE. Have your bike suffered any damage while stored and also, have you forgotten that ‘job’ you said you’d sort over the winter only to realise now? Get it sorted now before it goes another season as a ‘must do’.
7 - ELECTRICS. Well obviously if your battery ist kaput then you aren’t going anywhere fast but if you do have enough lightning juice how about other electrics mainly - lights! indicators, headlights (check your flash function works! switches can seize and play up) and check that both of you brake functions activate the brake light.
8 - DRIVE. Chain, sprockets, shaft, belt, whatever method of transferring the power to the rear wheel check for wear and tear and lube where necessary. If applicable, check the chain for slack and tighten. If neglecte, a slack chain can make your day go bad very quickly!
9 - KIT - It’s still a bit chilly out there so may be worth having your thermals handy (any excuse to put on the wife’s tights!) and remember that waterproofs could still be needed at a moments notice but mostly this is about your safety kit. Helmet, check straps, check damage and check visor. Hopefully you’ve stored it well and there won’t be any issues but mould may creep in and add an unwanted and distracting whiff to your lid! Gloves get stiff if stored when damp. Give them a flex and free them up before riding.
10 - YOU! - Finally, make sure you are fit to ride. If you’ve had some time off then break yourself in slowly. Go somewhere quiet like a car park and practise some slow speed manoeuvres and turns. You may feel like a plonker for a bit so pretend you’re looking for that Rolex you dropped. You are not invincible and getting back on a bike after a break can leave you as sore as going for a run for the first time in months… Be sensible. None of us are Benjamin Button and are getting younger.
Remember this is a guide for the obvious so it’s worth asking a local garage for a check over if you’ve had your bike off the roads for considerable length of time. Most will give you a health check for free or a small amount.
Oh, if you are still lucky enough to get out then think about a nice fresh water wash of your bike afterwards. There is still salt and grit about and a little loving bath would be worth while.
Enjoy the sunshine!