Busting out the bike

Here is a spring maintenance checklist for motorbikes

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A man in a shop coat checking tire pressure on an orange dirt bike.

Check the pressure in your bike’s tires before you ride it. Justin Surina, pictured here, recommends putting between 12 and 13 pounds of air in dirt bike tires. — Trish Drinkle photo

Spring is an exciting time of year. This winter has been an odd one in many areas and it has dirt and street bikers chomping at the bit. Hopefully, you utilized fuel stabilizer and drained your carb in the fall. If not, get your bike in for a professional tuneup.

If you did perform the proper maintenance in the fall, here’s what you need to do now:

Step 1: Turn the fuel on. I know it seems redundant, but you’d be surprised how many people forget that the actual fuel pet cock is in the Off position. 

Step 2: Check your fluid levels. Of course, if you serviced it last fall, as recommended, it should all be good to go. Things can happen, though, over the winter—such as water in the cooling system and freezing, which could crack the cylinder heads. 

Step 3: Check your chain and sprockets. Chains could be rusty, especially if the bike was stored under a tarp. If your chain is rusty, oil it with chain oil. Chain oil is better than the chain wax in this situation—especially for dirt bikes as you need that extra lubrication to penetrate deep within the chain links.

Step 4: Make sure you have fuel—fresh gas for a fresh season. 

Step 5: Start your bike. If you have an electric start, put the battery in. If you left your battery in over the winter without a battery tender, chances are it is frozen and you will need a new one. 

Step 6: Bring the engine up to operating temperature and re-check your fluids. Do not take your rad cap off while the engine is hot.

Step 7: Look for oil leaks and coolant leaks after the unit has been brought up to operating temperature.

Step 8: Check tire pressure. For a dirt bike, put between 12 and 13 pounds of air in the tires. Check the valve stems if you do notice either a flat, or a slow leak.

Step 9: Check levers and cable play. Watch for sticky cables or too much free play. A sticky throttle is dangerous. Ninety per cent of the time the bike has fallen on the throttle side and jammed the throttle into the handlebars. Loosen the pinch bolts for the throttle housing and move the throttle housing to the outside of the bars about two millimetres—just a little ways. If that helps, it’s an easy fix—if it doesn’t you may need to replace your throttle cable. Four-strokes seem particularly susceptible to this situation.

Step 10: On your first ride out, don’t make it the incredible journey. Use this ride as a diagnostic, paying particular attention to what your bike feels and sounds like. You have a whole season of awesome ahead of you.   

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