The riding season is upon us! Winter is ending, the snow is melting, and temperatures are finally beginning to rise. We know you’ve spent your winter looking at pictures of your friends’ motorcycle trips from warmer climates and you can’t wait to join them.
Thaw Out Your Motorcycle
Before you crack open that garage and fasten your helmet, don’t forget that your motorcycle may need a little preparation before it’s ready to hit the road.
Make sure to check your tire pressure, as air pressure can be greatly affected by winter temperature drops. If the tire pressure is significantly low, check your tire for flat spots where the tire was resting on the pavement. You should also check your tires for any cracks on the sidewalls that might signify degradation. Tires on bikes that riders primarily use for recreation often reach end of life due to rubber degradation rather than tread wear.
While you’re at it, check the fluids in your motorcycle to make sure they’re all of sufficient quality and quantity. Examine your oil for clarity, check your brake fluid levels, and give your brakes a few nice squeezes to make sure they still have sufficient pressure. Condensation has a way of creeping into fluids during the winter months, so it’s always a good idea to replace your engine oil and brake fluid before you start your new season of riding.
It’s also worthwhile to give your entire bike a close once-over, examining the nuts and bolts to make sure everything is nice and tight. Lube the chain, if you have one, and make sure it’s free of rust or debris. If your battery has not been plugged into a trickle charger, it will also need a good charge or possibly even a replacement. Your fuel has probably also gone south unless you added a fuel stabilizer to your tank before putting your bike away, so it’s best to drain your tank and add fresh fuel.
New to riding? Visit Honda’s Learn To Ride website at www.learntoride.honda.com to learn what’s necessary to take you from zero to hero. The Learn To Ride site will take you through a step-by-step process and show why you should take a professional Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course, the kinds of things you’ll learn during the course, and will help you find courses near you. The site will also walk you through getting your motorcycle license, understanding the different kinds of motorcycles and how to pick the right one for you, finding a Honda dealer, getting financing and insurance,
finding the right riding gear, and even finding places to ride. The site is a great start to a great start.
If you already know how to ride but you’ve been stuck in a car for the past few months, we recommend you begin with a light day of riding to get your legs back under you. Accept that you don’t need to be too spirited right off the bat, or ride through traffic for hours on your first day back, and let yourself re-awaken all those skills you haven’t been using.
Whether you’re new to riding or have been riding for years, spring is an exciting time because it means one of our favorite past times is finally part of our lives again. Our excitement can lead us to make rash decisions as we pull out of our garages, so take a few things into account when planning your route.
Choose a route that is neither too long nor too technical, and make sure to take into account that the roads are still thawing as well. Before you ride, think about any section of road that rain may have carried debris into or places that stay in the shadows all day that may still be slick. Think of your local riding spots like your best friend from high school. You may know them like the back of your hand, but they may have changed a bit in your absence and you have a little catching up to do. There may be new potholes or new construction that you don’t need to learn about at speed.
So you and your bike are finally ready, which brings us to your gear. Remember that helmets only have a five-year life, and that’s assuming they’ve never been dropped. Check your gear for wear and tear, and pay specific attention to the quality of your helmet. You may need to update some of your riding gear, or this just may be a good opportunity to look at some of the new types of products that have been released since you last were in the market.
Even though it’s finally starting to feel warm outside, feeling warm while standing still and feeling warm at highway speed are two very different things. The mornings and evenings still will be chilly as well. There have been all kinds of innovations in products like textile jackets and pants, with new materials that breathe better while providing waterproof capabilities, or layers that zip in and out to provide true four-season comfort. The same can be said for boots and gloves, and current helmets are offered with vast improvements in ventilation, anti-fog, and noise isolation.
So, your body, bike, and mind are all prepped for another fantastic season of riding. Hopefully many of you are new to the sport, fresh off the heels of the Learn To Ride program, and will get to experience something the rest of us hold near and dear to our hearts. Share your experiences with the Learn To Ride program with #learntoride and be sure to tag #RideRed with all of your social media posts about your rides this year.