Preparing Your Motorcycle for a Long Journey: Tips and Advice
Going on a long road trip on your motorcycle is exciting. But you want to make sure everything is ready for a hassle free (or at least with no extra hassle) journey. This includes planning the route, the where and the when, packing everything you might need while also packing light and double checking all your documentation. However, many riders forget to check their bikes before going.
The last thing you want while riding far away from home are motorcycle troubles, so running through a maintenance checklist before you set off is the best way to avoid this. Of course, you can pay a professional to service your vehicle before you go, but if you can save money and do it at home, why not?
This is a close inspection of your bike. As riders, we don’t often closely inspect every inch of our bike, so damage can go unnoticed. This close inspection should help you identify any visible problems that need immediate attention. Check the chain (if applicable), if there are any leaks or spots under the bike, dirt or streaks on the forks which suggest a need for new seals, and any visual damaged you hadn’t noticed.
If your bike has been sat in the garage for a while, then you must change the fuel as gasoline can go stale over time. Get rid of the old and fill again. Even if your bike has been ridden daily, you don’t want to start your journey with a tank that is nowhere near full.
The oil is one of the most important liquids in your bike’s engine, so just as the fuel, changing it is important. You should change your oil before embarking on a long journey regardless if your bike has been stored over a period of time or you use her regularly. We also recommend you chance the oil filter too. Clean oil will help the performance and longevity of your bike.
If your bike has been sat a long time without being started and the battery connected, chances are you have a flat battery. New batteries will have no problems if you charge them for a day, however, older batteries might struggle to keep charge. If that is the case, you will need a new battery for your trip.
The Tire Pressure
Having your tires at the correct pressure will help with performance and fuel efficiency. Also, with the handling of your bike and the overall comfort of your ride. Before you go anywhere, check they are at the right pressures and inflate them if necessary.
The Tire Tread
It can be dangerous to ride your motorcycle with low tire tread. It is unsafe to ride on bald tires, so check yours for enough tread, bald patches, side bubbles and other warning signs that your tyres are unsafe. If you are ever in doubt if they are safe or not, just remember it is cheaper to change the tyres than the damage a blow out can cause while riding.
Check All the Fluids
Remember that it is not only oil and fuel running through your engine, there is also coolant fluid and brake fluid. Check these and replace if needed before you go on your journey. If your bike has been sitting for a long time, then it is recommended to change them regardless.
Check your pads and disks. You don’t want to be caught with worn out pads while travelling or a bent/scratched disk. Replace your pads if they are over half-way worn, as you don’t want to risk it. If your disks are slightly rusted, don’t worry, this is normal for a bike that has been sitting and they will return to normal once the breaks are used. It doesn’t hurt to clean them with some break cleaner too.
Oil, air and fuel filters, check them all. If they are damaged or too dirty, don’t hesitate to replace them, as this will help with the performance of your bike and help her live longer.
You have brake cables, clutch cables, throttle and electric cables that need to be checked too. Give them a visual check for any damage or signs of weakness. You may also need them re-oiled, which you can do with a hydraulic cable oiler or take your machine to a professional who will do it for you.
The Moving Parts
These are things like your kickstand, the brake levers, and other things that are designed to move either naturally or when pressure is applied. Check for any wear and tear, replace any springs if needed, and make sure everything is working as it should be.
Start your bike and double check all the lights on your bike. Indicators, main beam and brake lights. A bulb or a fuse may have gone while in storage or while riding without you noticing. They are easy to replace and don’t cost much money either.
Make Her Shine
Cleaning your bike regularly is an important part of maintenance. This keeps the bike working in better condition and makes her look fantastic. Also, you can use professional motorcycle paint to touch up any scratches or damaged paintwork to give your bike an extra shine.
Run over the nuts and bolts to make sure everything is tight and is not at risk of coming loose. If you have replaced anything, such as a filter or a bulb, double check it is all back on correctly and will stay that way for the duration of your journey.
While it may seem like a long checklist, checking all these things before you go on a journey or after taking your bike out from storage can save a lot of problems in the future. A couple of hours going over everything is nothing compared to being without her for weeks because something went wrong.