11 Motorcycle Prep To-Do’s You Should Tackle This Spring

Apr 2nd 2024

11 Motorcycle Prep To-Do’s You Should Tackle This Spring

We just got a good dose of snow (and ice) in Cornish, Maine and yet here we are writing about the spring riding season. Can you tell we’re eager? Most of the time, we don’t plan ahead too far—who’s to say what’s for dinner tonight—but when it comes to getting ready to break out our bikes in spring, we like to be prepared. Summers in the northeast are gorgeous, but short, so a little advanced planning goes a long way in helping make the most of our riding season.

So, while the crocuses fight against the fresh coating of snow outside, we thought we’d head to the garage and guide you through our spring checklist. From basic maintenance to fresh customizations that will make your next riding season better than the last, and even some tips to take to gym with you (yes, the gym!) we’ll cover everything you need to do to get ready for spring.

Check & Clean Your Battery

Even when properly stored, ongoing discharge of small internal loads can damage your battery over the winter months, so you’ll want to give this essential component a good inspection. There are a few visual indications of a battery in need of servicing:

  • Broken or loose terminals
  • Bulges or cracks in the battery case
  • Excessive leaking or discoloration

If you spot any of these, you are likely in need of a new battery. Small amounts of corrosion are normal but can lead to poor performance so it’s best to give your battery a fresh clean with a mixture of baking soda and water. Flooded batteries should also have their water level checked and refilled if low.

You can also test your battery’s health by taking a voltage reading to determine the state of charge.

If your battery reads 0 it likely has experienced a short circuit and should be replaced. If you cannot reach higher than a 10.5 after charging, the battery has a dead cell. And if the battery is fully charged but has a voltage of 12.4 or less, it is sulfated and needs to be replaced.

Bonus points if you use a smart charger or battery tender to keep your battery at an optimum charge level whether you're storing your bike for a few days or the whole winter.

Check & Inflate Tires

Depending on your local weather, spring can be a slippery season, so your treads are important for riding safety. The good old fashioned coin test can help you determine if your treads are within spec of the manufacturer’s recommendations and whether you need a new set. If you don’t use a paddock stand, you should also check your tires for flat spots or cracks from sitting in one place.

Temperature fluctuations in winter also means your tire pressure may be low. Your tire pressure is incredibly important to your bike’s performance and safety so have a quality tire pressure gauge around to take a quick reading as your prep your bike for spring and make sure to fill up before hitting the road.

Ensure Brakes Are Working

Your brakes are key safety component of your motorcycle so checking their operability is essential when prepping for the spring season. Confirm that brake cables and brake lines are in working order. Give your tires a spin and squeeze the front and rear brake lever individually to ensure your pads are doing their job.

Service Your Chain If You Have One

Unless you have a shaft drive bike, you should also check your drive system. Your chain and belt can wear over time or just get dirty and reduce your bike’s performance. Clean and oil your drive chain with a cloth and use your service manual to ensure the chain alignment is up to spec. Likewise, check the tension specs for your belt and look for any cracks.

Visual Inspection & Controls

It may seem obvious but performing a visual inspection of your entire bike is a great idea when prepping for spring. Even if there are no mechanical problems, do you really want that spring sunshine flashing off a dirty bike on your first day out? Look for signs of damage or parts that are out of place and clean, tighten, or repair them as needed. A little lubrication can go a long way in making sure everything runs smoothly on your first day out. It’s also a good idea to check your engine block for critters like mice or chipmunks that may have cozied up there during the winter.

Turn on your bike and check the controls to ensure your brake lights, blinkers, and headlights are working. Check your clutch, throttle cables, levers, grips, you name it! After a few months of not looking at your bike, you may find you notice things you hadn’t by the end of last season.

Fill Up on Fluids

You should be familiar with these everyday maintenance items by now, but sometimes you just can’t trust your past self. Inspect your fuel lines and seals for cracks and determine if your fuel tank needs a new filter. If all looks good, fill up with some fresh gas.

Check your engine oil level and color for signs that it’s time for an oil change. If so, this is a great task to perform at home and avoid professional maintenance costs. Lastly, check your brake fluid and fill up as needed.

Take Stock of Your Gear

Your gear is almost as important as your bike itself so take inventory before spring comes around. Did your helmet take any hits last season? Do you have a sturdy pair of boots—that didn’t get ruined by winter snow? Did you remember to put your gloves in the laundry after plenty of sweating last year? Do you have a repair kit and first aid kit? Checking that everything fits properly and is in good shape now means you have time to shop for new gear if needed.

Review Your Paperwork

Is your inspection, registration, and motorcycle insurance up to date? Get your paperwork in order and find coverage if needed to protect against unplanned accidents.

Timing Professional Maintenance or Upgrades

If you wait until May, chances are everybody and their brother will be calling up the local mechanic to schedule maintenance or placing their orders for new parts and accessories. When you’ve already gone the long winter months without riding, the last thing you want is to be kept from the road even longer by long wait times for service or parts.

By running through your spring checklist before the birds start chirping, you’ll be able to identify problems that need professional service and schedule your appointment with plenty of notice.

You might also be considering making some modifications or upgrades to your bike. Maybe you spent a lot of the winter reading about long distance riding and need to buy some storage accessories so you can give it a try this summer. Or maybe you’ve been thinking about the back pain you had during last year’s riding season and want to perfect your riding position with some handlebar risers to avoid it this year. Do your shopping now to avoid long fulfillment and shipping times and ensure your upgrades arrive in time for the first warm, dry day of the year.

Prepping Your Body

This might be a sore subject—pun intended—but your body needs preparation for the riding season just like your bike does. Months spent without riding can reduce your muscle strength and flexibility, making injury or discomfort more likely on your first ride. Incorporating some lightweight exercise like neighborhood walks, yoga, or at home gym routines into your everyday can help prepare you for the hard work that is riding.

Practicing stretches specific to common motorcycle pains can also help prevent any twinges. Plus you’ll have the opportunity to observe your body’s response to each of these motions and anticipate which ones will translate to discomfort on your bike. Of course, once the warm weather arrives, it’s also never a bad idea to do some low-stakes practicing in an empty lot or quiet street to reaffirm the basics and just get comfortable in the saddle. No matter how many years you’ve been riding, repeating basic skills and building confidence are always useful habits.

Planning the Best Spring Motorcycle Rides

Your bike is ready and so are you. Now for the fun part. Aside from the intrinsic excitement of riding for the first time after the winter wait, spring offers motorcyclists some truly fantastic riding opportunities. Temperatures are mild and nature is strutting its stuff with blooming wildflowers and trees. We particularly love riding the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire where spring brings snow melt to swell the rivers and waterfalls you can spot from this 35-mile route.

Highway 106 in southern Missouri offer spectacular rows of budding dogwood and redbud trees along curvy roads that are fun to ride any time of year. In Texas, the Farm to Market Road 149 brings you through Sam Houston National Forest where fields of bluebonnets and paintbrush flowers will absolutely smack you with color. If you can make it down to the North Tampa Circuit in Florida, you’ll be rewarded with the glorious scent of spring orange blossoms as you make your way through ranch land and orchards.

There are plenty of other amazing routes you should consider for spring and many states have wildflower bloom tracking sites to help you find the best areas and timing to witness those annual flourishes.

If you have a favorite place to ride when spring finally hits or other tasks on your spring checklist that you’d like to share with the HeliBars community, shoot us a message! One thing’s for sure, we’re all ready for warm weather.