Tips For Bringing Your Motorcycle Out Of Winter Storage
We're a little into the official start of spring in Northern Minnesota, and there have been some decent enough motorcycle riding days at this point. Still, many riders still haven't fired up their bikes this year yet, or even pulled them out of winter hibernation.
My mistresses are still tucked in for the long brutal up North winter but will be coming out as soon as the majority of the snow is gone and the salt has been washed off the roads.
I don't go too crazy overboard when waking them up, especially because decent maintenance before they go to sleep usually makes things pretty smooth when welcoming them to Spring. Here's what I do when I bring the bikes out of storage:
Visually inspect the motorcycle
If you have a lift, getting the bike up on it will make this a smidgen easier. I don't have one but I basically just look for anything out of place, like weather checking on the tires. In 2020 one of our bikes that had a tire installed the previous season came out from under the cover with a severely checked rear tire. It was to the point of I didn't feel comfortable riding it very far or fast with it in that condition. Look for oil leaks, check tire pressure, and pull the air filter and check the exhaust if you didn't plug it, checking for rodent nests. Check for loose bolts, the rims for damage, and loose spokes if your bike has those. Also be on the lookout for frame corrosion that might have resulted while being stored.
Verify the motorcycle's battery condition
I park my motorcycles and plug them into a Battery Tender all winter. I used to take them into the warm house and not plug them in, and almost every year would have to charge them up again. Keeping the tender on the battery all winter maintains it's levels and I have never had a problem doing that, except when a battery once was about 8 years old and due for replacement anyway. If you don't have a battery tester, you can always stop in to a place like Interstate Batteries and have them do a check for you. I've also run that brand in my bikes for many years with great success. Even if your battery will start the bike, it's good to know where it's at before riding season begins.
Check motorcycle fluid levels
You may need to actually run the bike before checking certain component fluid levels, but even before I start the bike and even if I don't notice any leaks, I still check as a precaution. Remember to not only check the levels, but check for things like dirty oil or brake fluid. If you were in a rush to get it stored for winter, maybe you skipped that almost due oil change, so consider those maintenance aspects.
Check everything else
Yeah, that's broad, but generally you know your bike pretty well. In this category think of things like lights such as blinker bulbs. Check the neck bearings, and sit on it to see if anything feels off. Also make sure you examine the brake pads, if they are even close to due, swap them out so you won't have to interrupt summer riding to do it.
Give your motorcycle a bath
Even sitting under a cover, bikes can accumulate dust almost anywhere they are stored. Give her a good bath, and if you don't rock denim paint like I do, wax her up good for the season too.
None of this takes long to check or do, and it's my line of thinking that I'd rather handle a potential problem earlier in the season than later. I've had a couple of trips minorly mucked up because I put off things like brake pads and simple battery maintenance because I was being lazy in the spring, itching to get on the road. What would you add to this list?