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What Spring And Fall Maintenance Should You Perform On Your Motorcycle?

Riding a motorcycle is one of life's great pleasures -- with the sun on your back and wind in your face, you're actually experiencing your ride, rather than being cooped up in a vehicle. While spring, summer, and early fall usually provide ideal motorcycling weather, most riders keep their bikes in storage during winter in areas that receive snow, ice, and cold temperatures. Avoiding these hazards not only keeps you safe, it helps your motorcycle avoid damage from salt residue or other winter hazards. However, there are still a few preventive maintenance measures you should take each spring and fall to help keep your bike in good running condition. Read on to learn about the steps you should take each time you put your motorcycle in (or take it out of) winter storage.

Before taking your motorcycle out for the year:

Performing some checks before starting up your bike for the first time can help ensure you aren't running with dirty or contaminated fluids or a clogged air filter. If these potential hazards go unchecked, you could find yourself due for a major repair before motorcycling season ends.

Check all hoses, cables, and fittings

Unless your motorcycle has been stored in a climate-controlled setting, it's likely it was exposed to at least some colder-than-normal temperatures. Give your engine and transmission a good once-over to ensure that all hoses, belts, and other non-metal components are still in good shape. Warped, cracked, or corroded hoses and cables should be replaced before you start your engine.

Test your battery

If your motorcycle hasn't been started all winter, its battery may have lost quite a bit of juice. Fortunately, you can buy a fairly inexpensive battery tester and charger at an auto parts supply store. This can help you avoid needing to be jump-started by a vehicle and can help you monitor your battery's levels during the winter to know whether starting it periodically and letting it run to charge is a good idea. If your battery continues to have low output, you may consider replacing it before you take your bike out on the road.

Change all fluids

During especially cold weather, the oil in your engine may gel, and other fluids may also be affected. Upon thawing, these fluids may be contaminated by engine components like small bits of metal or other debris. It's important to drain, flush, and replace these fluids before starting your engine and allowing them to circulate throughout your engine and transmission. (Because motorcycles are much smaller than other vehicles, these processes aren't nearly as labor-intensive or expensive as you may expect.)

Before putting your motorcycle away in anticipation of cold weather:

There are a few things you can do to help minimize your spring inspection list. For example, you may opt to go ahead and drain your oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and other fluids so that you'll simply be able to replace them in the spring. Other fall maintenance items may include:

Cover your windows (or buy a motorcycle cover)

Ultraviolet rays can damage the paint and finish on your motorcycle, fading it and causing it to look older than its true age. By buying light-blocking curtains for your garage or covering up your motorcycle with a tonneau cover (or even a tarp), you can help keep it clean and shiny until winter is over.

Wash, wax, and polish your bike

Not only will this keep your motorcycle looking pristine when you uncover it, it can help protect your bike against rust or other environmental contaminants. Storing your bike without washing it can allow chemicals from soil and road dust to eat away at your paint all winter long.

For more maintenance tips, you may want to contact a local motorcycle repair company.