As a Service Consultant, I see all sorts of bikers come and go. Whether it’s the guy who polishes his bike every beautiful day of the year just to ride it a couple of sunny Sundays, or the gal who throws her leg over her bug-splattered two-wheeled best friend to go to the post office, or Pennsylvania, depending on her mood that day. Or the chick who rides a beater cuz ya gotta be on two wheels to be livin’. Or the businessman who's so busy that his $45k CVO® with $5k worth of motor work gets less ride time than it gets display time in his garage when his friends come over for a few drinks.
There are lone wolves and those who run in packs. Trying to define the term ‘biker’ is difficult because that definition has to fit a very large spectrum. There are as many types of bikers as there are types of rides and styles of modifications that can be done to a bike.
But one thing I’ve noticed is that, in the end, we’ve all got a common core:
We recognize there’s a call to freedom that somehow can only be answered in the motorcycle lifestyle.
WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!
We don’t know! It’s elusive. But for most of us, we are looking for that answer in that next mile down the road.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of guys who polish their bikes with the passion of a lover, yet still manage to put 15-20 thousand miles on their bikes in a season, and there are many who put $5k and more into their $45k CVO®, and then they ride it all over the country, because they know that being CVO® means that it has the best components on the best bike.
I intend to speak to all those who are somewhere on this spectrum of motorcycle enthusiasm.
And what better time to start a dialogue than a New England Spring?
Here in New England most of our bikes have been hibernating for the winter. (And by ‘winter’ I mean March and April since winter is apparently not a morning person and hit the snooze button all through November, December, and nearly all of January and February.)
But now that the ‘Nasty March’ and ‘Punk @$$ April’ hump has passed, let’s talk about waking your bike up for the season. To address this topic, we’re gonna have to acknowledge that, in terms of winter storage, there are two groups of people: 1) those who store their bikes at home in their garage, and 2) those who stored their bike with us at Cape Cod Harley-Davidson.
If you stored with us at CCH-D, skip down to paragraph 8 where it says “**Start reading here**”. If you didn’t store with us, let’s talk.
- Do a visual go over of your bike. Check in nooks and crannies for signs of rubber tubes cracking or any nesting. (Just like cars that sit for the winter, a bike can become a nice home for a family of mice. We’ve seen it!)
- Give your bike nice cleaning. It’s best if you washed the bike before putting it away, (if not break out the hose and suds and go to town). At the very least pick up a bottle of Lucas from our parts counter, or your favorite bike wash & spray, and give the bike a good wipe down. Polish up the pipes and engine especially, any component that gets really hot when the bikes running. The idea here is that you don’t want any dust or dirt baking onto the bike and causing potentially irreversible blemishes. This’ll help your bike keep its shine longer.
- Do a throttle test. Pull the throttle and then let go. It should snap back. If it slowly works its way back, or sticks, twist it back and forth a few times to see if it loosens up for you. If not, give us a call. Having the throttle spontaneously stick on you isn’t an overly common thing, but you’ll be happy you discovered this now as opposed to at the end of your driveway or in an intersection.
- Verify that your battery has a good charge. If the bike sounds weak when starting it up, you may want to bring it in for us to test the battery. Harley’s draw, it’s a fact of life. Even when put on a tender all winter, if the battery dropped too low at any point, it won’t be able to hold a charge so well. But you certainly don’t want to be out on the road and have trouble. Plus, if it is starting up a little weak, when we test the battery we might discover other issues on the horizon that should be addressed here in our shop as opposed to out there on the road.
- Check your fluids! Hopefully you topped your gas tank off and then put in fuel stabilizer. You’ll want to check your engine oil as well. It’s best to check the oil level when the bike is hot and on the kickstand. Let the bike run at idle for six or seven minutes at least, then turn it off and check the oil dipstick. Add as needed, but carefully. You don’t want to overfill. We recommend adding a little bit, then capping the dipstick and running the bike again. When it gets hot, shut it off and recheck. Keep going as needed.
- Check the air pressure of your tires. This is actually a crucial thing to do all throughout the riding season. Motorcycle tires are very expensive! (You only got 2!!) Keeping them properly inflated is vital to both the longevity of your tires lifespan, and the longevity of you keeping your bike right side up. (Also it helps with gas mileage, but that’s barely a concern next to the risk of a blow out or not hanging on to that rotary as tight as you should.
- Do your own safety inspection. Actually, like checking tire pressure, you should do this throughout the riding season as well. Take a close look at your tires, check for slashes, gouges, dry rot, uneven wear, or thinning tread depth. Turn your blinkers on. Make sure your front and rear brake switches are activating the brake light. Honk the horn. Check that your high and low beam are working. Look for any signs of oil leaking. Taking three minutes to walk around your bike might feel dumb when you think you know everything is working right, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as dumb as when you show up to see me for an inspection sticker and I fail you for something you should’ve caught! Or not remotely as dumb as you’ll feel in an emergency room because the car behind you didn’t know you were stopping because your brake switch wasn’t working.
- **Start reading here** (If you stored your bike with us at CCHD, then your fluids were replaced, the bike was torqued to specs, your belt was adjusted, your fuel was stabilized, your battery was tended, the tire pressure checked, it was washed going into service, and again when it came out, the tires checked again, anything that we found that needed attention or replacement we notified you of and took whatever action you directed, and we sang holiday carols and lullaby’s to it when it was lonely. So up to this point, if you stored with us, your spring prep is: “Sit on the bike. Start it up. Ride it like you stole it.”) If you didn’t store with us, do steps 1-7, then ride like hell to catch up to your friends who DID store with us and are already 5 miles down the road!
- Don’t forget! Your MA state inspection sticker expires May 31st! Bring in your bike, registration, and $15 and we’ll get you set up for another year!
Friends, watch out for yourselves, and your fellow riders. Always reach out to us at Cape Cod Harley-Davidson with any questions, or just come in and hang out! We love the company! (AND Eric learned a new joke!) We’ll have more posts with tips, stories, suggestions, and more, so keep a look-out!
Have a stellar Season! And ride safe!