Three Ways to Prepare for the First Ride this Spring
Posted by Pardridge Insurance Agency, Inc. on
Your motorcycle has been parked for four months—maybe more. Now that the snow and ice have melted away, it’s time to pack away the shovels and sleds and make space for your motorcycle. Before that first ride of the spring, Pardridge Insurance, along with its partner Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, recommends taking time to prepare your bike, your gear, and yourself for the ride.
“Riders need to be prepared physically and mentally, gear and machine. Even a low speed accident on a motorcycle can cause painful injuries,” said Matt Williams, senior claims adjuster at Grinnell Mutual.
1. Prepare your motorcycle
Walk around the bike and do a visual inspection, looking at the condition of these key components.
Check the tires. Make sure the tires are properly inflated, have sufficient tread, and show no signs of dry rot. “You are as likely to need a tire change from non-use as you are from tire wear. More tires are worn out from under inflation than from normal driving,” said Williams, who has taught the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course for 16 years.
Perform preventive maintenance. Change the oil and check to make sure your motorcycle’s brake fluid and coolant are at the proper levels. Check air, fuel, and oil filters, and lube the chain.
Inspect shocks and brakes. Check for warped discs, listen for squeaks and squeals, and feel for dragging or heavy brakes. You can check the shocks by pushing down on the bike to see if they compress properly.
2. Prepare your gear
“How old is your helmet?” asks Williams. “Between weather and use, helmets wear out. Replace your helmet if it is more than five years old.
“If you haven’t ridden your motorcycle in several months, get into the frame of mind of riding again,” said Williams. “Keep your head on a swivel, looking for threats anywhere and everywhere.”
Riders should also think about the riding environment. Sand and gravel have gathered in intersections over the winter. In addition, farmers are entering and exiting fields, leaving mud and other debris on roadways. Read more about sharing the road with other vehicles.
Williams recommends easing back into the physical skills of riding. When teaching Basic Rider Courses, he emphasizes slow speed control.
“Slow speed control is key because you may lose balance,” said Williams. “Take 15 minutes and practice slow speed maneuvers and right turns from a stop. Also practice crash avoidance techniques such as quick stops.”