April 13, 2012 by Rider Newsletter Staff
Using your cold weather downtime wisely
So. Punxsutawney Phil failed to see his shadow and says we’ve got an early spring on the way. All the more reason to take care of a few key maintenance items so you are ready to roll when the temperature rises. Even if you ride during the winter, there may still be some extended periods of time when it is too cold or slippery to head out.
These breads is when you can take on a few tasks that require a bit more time, or do not need to be done very often. We need to caution you, however, that, for safety’s sake, you should not attempt any maintenance work that is beyond your skill level. If you need to add more skills, look for motorcycle maintenance training opportunities in your area. Winter is the perfect time for that, too.
If you are ready to get to work on your bike, a repair manual for your specific make and model is a must-have item. In most cases, you can find one online. This invaluable reference is worth reviewing before and during every maintenance task you perform.
You’ll also need the right tools for the job. Winter maintenance is a great reason (or excuse) to buy more tools. One item was mentioned again and again in our online research; a torque wrench. You may need more than one to cover various sizes of nuts and bolts. You could pay upwards of $100 for good torque wrenches, but if you can avoid shearing off a bolt head or over-tightening a critical component, it will be money well spent.
If you’re game, here are a few maintenance tasks you might want to tackle:
Lube your chain. Quick, easy and extremely important, particularly if you’ve been doing some winter riding.
Change the oil. If you didn’t do this when you put your baby to bed for the winter, do it now. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for intervals and type of oil. Also, be sure to take the old oil to a recycling facility. Pouring it on the ground is bad Karma.
Drain and replace the brake fluid. Most manufacturers recommend this service every two years. If it’s been that long, or you’ve never done it, here’s your chance.
Replace the coolant. Any water-cooled engine requires a coolant additive. Even if you don’t ride in cold weather, coolant is critical in avoiding overheating and lubricating various parts of the cooling system.
Lubricate your cables. You might be surprised how much smoother your cables operate with a little care.
Once you’ve completed the big stuff, here are a few quick checks you should make prior to hitting the road this spring:
- Test the lights, brakes, and turn signals.
- Check the oil and fuel levels (if you didn’t change the oil over the winter).
- Make sure the mirrors are positioned correctly.
- Check the cables to make sure they aren’t worn or frayed.
- Examine your tires using the penny method
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