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Take Care of Her and She'll Do the Same (How to start out the riding season)

By Jeff Sinason

Has your scoot been sitting in the garage all winter, just dying to be ridden? Or have you had the chance to only get her out a couple of times? If you answer yes to either of these questions, then this article will intrest you. This article lets you know what I do every year right before riding season starts.

Living in the lower midwest, there seems to be several chances to ride during the winter. Usually, a day here, and a day there. But for the most part the bike still sits on a pretty regular basis. Sitting, in and of itself doesn't do any harm to your bike but some of the less durable stuff has a tendancy to break down even when sitting. Another thing, in order to help you have a safer and problem free season it's just better to run the checks listed below.

  • Fuel - Gas tends to break down as it ages. If you've ever smelt a gas can that been sitting for awhile you know what I mean. If my bikes been sitting for a over a month, I will drain the gas and put new fuel in it.
  • Oil and Primary Drive Fluid - Now I don't know if oil breaks down by just sitting, but every March 1st I do an oil change regardless of the milage since the last one. One of the things that was suggested to me was that by doing an oil change after the bike has sat for awhile helps get more of the stuff that gathers in oil out.
  • Battery - Winters can be rough on batteries. I know some people who take theirs out during the winter and store it in a warmer place. I also know people who keep it on a battery charger all winter. I don't know what works best, but I do know that a battery that has sat for awhile might not have all of the kick it really needs. Before you go out for the first time, give the battery a good check. Look for leaks or anything that looks unusal. If you've got a battery charger, give it a good charge before you go out. It might just help keep you on the road.
  • Air Cleaner - During the winter the critters that live in your garage all scamper to find someplace to hide your air cleaner could be one of them. I pull out my air cleaner and clean it and oil it every year at the time that I do my winter oil change. By doing that I'm sure that my first ride will be a nicer day.
  • Spark Plugs - To me it just seems too easy to not pull the plugs and give them a quick once over. Plugs in general can tell you a lot about how your motor is running. Why not check them and replace them now, instead of on the side of the road.
  • Belts and Chains - Wheather you have belt drive, chain drive or shaft drive. Make sure all the parts appear in good order and everything that is supposed to be tight is tight.
  • Tires and Wheels - Make sure your tires look ok. That they don't have any cracks or worn spots and that tire pressure is good. (You should do this regularly). As for your wheels. If you have solid wheels or mags or anything other than spokes checking your wheels is pretty easy. You only have to check for any corrosion, or dings. If you have spokes, CHECK TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE TIGHT. Loose spokes can cause you to get a flat or even worse, have the spokes to break. Check them carfully.
  • Cables- During the winter you can get quite a bit of condensation in your cables. This can cause all kinds of problems. These might include rusting the cable or weakening the cable. Check them and lubricate them if necessary.
  • Lights - Make sure that all of your lights and other electrical components are in working order. Especially, at the beginning of the season, since the cagers aren't used to seeing us out there.
  • Chassis - Make sure that everything is tightened up. Some of us who ride bikes that have a tendancy to really loosen things up need to really check the bike over during this step.
  • Rider Gear - Now that the bike is already to go make sure you are too. Check your eye protection, condition leathers, and protect your helmet with a new headwrap. Also don't forget, you might still be wearing gloves so check those zipper pulls also.
All of these are important checks for starting out the season and during the riding season. You don't have to be a great wrench to be able to do these checks and there are several books available that can help you with these basic maintenance tasks.

Jeff "Tools" Sinason is an avid biker who rides year round. He has been riding Harley Davidsons for most of his riding career. He has a full time and a full time passion which is his web site Bikerwares.com



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