Simple Basic Maintenance
SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher
We choose where we live, and, as motorcyclists, we adapt to our circumstances.
I’m a lifelong New Englander, which can be a blessing or a challenge depending on the season. And now that we’ve made it through to another spring, I can admit that this past winter was one for the record books. I rode fewer motorcycle miles this winter than usual, but I also spent more wrench time in the garage than any other winter within memory. All I can say is thank goodness for heated garages!
Every motorcycle has basic needs, especially when parked for the season. Ignore these basic needs at your own risk, but be prepared to deal with the consequences on the first ride of the year.Some of the more common issues include a weak or dead battery, stale gasoline, flat tires, and rust. It’s too late to tell you what you should have done when you parked your bike months ago, but there is no better time than now to fix the issues before they get worse.
Because I own several motorcycles, I try to establish a regular maintenance schedule. The easiest part is to keep the batteries charged. I have accessory power cords on each battery, so about once a month, I rotate the smart charger from one bike to the next until they’re all charged. For wet-cell batteries, I also check the battery acid levels every couple of months. Yes, I’m converting to sealed batteries as the old ones pass on.
Stale gas is a real problem, especially today’s crappy ethanol-laced blend. Once it goes bad, I have found no way of bringing it back — especially if it has already damaged your fuel lines, EFI system, or carburetor. If the gas is stale, dump it and flush your system. If it is old but not yet stale (you can smell it), add some fuel stabilizer and run it through your system.
Before your first ride of the season and at least once a month, you should check the condition of your tires and adjust the tire pressure. The old joke is that the tire is flat only on the bottom, but if a bike sits long enough on flat tires, it will eventually damage the tires themselves. So, if you plan to park your bike for more than a week or two, it might help to slightly overinflate the tires by 5 pounds. Just remember to check and adjust the pressure properly before riding.
And what about rust? I don’t care what kind of motorcycle you have or how old it is, there is no reason for you not to treat any rust on it. None. Rust is like cancer. Aside from looking bad, rust eats through chrome and plating while damaging your machine — a little, and then a lot. If any part of your motorcycle has rust, treat it as soon as possible and as often as needed. I’ve had good luck with a number of products, including WD-40, StrongArm, and most recently, Gibbs penetrating oil. It’s not a bad idea to carefully look the bike over for rust and other signs of metal corrosion, especially on spokes and various mounting hardware. If you don’t take responsibility for at least this much maintenance, who will? Regardless, guess who will end up paying for it.
Upcoming & Noteworthy
• USCRA vintage motorcycle road racing (Race-USCRA.com) at Laconia, New Hampshire, on May 19.
• We’re reintroducing our tech and DIY Harley special magazine American Iron Garage on June 6 on newsstands and digital only. (Please note this is not included in your 13-issue-per-year subscription.)
Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.
This article originally appeared in issue #310 of American Iron Magazine.
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