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Prepare for Spring: Service Motorcycles in Winter

By Arv Voss, January 28th, 2012

The chill of winter, not to mention unsafe and slippery road conditions, force many bikers to garage their two-wheeled steeds for the cold season's duration, having to wait out unfavorable conditions until the pleasant spring and summer months arrive.

Rather than sit around being homebound or relegated to traveling by way of four-wheeled transportation, why not put old man winter's time to good use? Not being able to ride safely provides great opportunities to prepare your motorcycle for the upcoming riding season.

Winter is the time to add accessories to your bike, as well as to make minor and major modifications to your bike's performance, such as adding horsepower. Projects like touching up paint chips or even tackling a custom paint theme for your treasured ride can be done now without cutting into your seasonal riding time. Think about polishing up your bike's chrome parts, too.

Normal service procedures can be done in the comfort of your garage with the simple tasks changing the oil and filter; checking the brake system's hydraulic level and checking for pad wear; adjusting both brake and clutch linkages; tightening and adjusting wheel spokes if applicable, checking tire air pressure levels; balancing wheels; checking for any loose fasteners throughout the bike; checking the battery charge level and lighting system's operation including head and taillights as well as directional signals and any auxiliary lights, along with checking electrical connection condition.

Been thinking of adding a GPS navigation system for the touring season so you don't get lost? Do it now and program your favorite routes along with some adventurous new ones. Also give consideration to adding an audio system so that you can enjoy your favorite tunes while cruising the open road (unless like me, you simply enjoy the thunderous rumble of your bike's exhaust).

Improvements that add to riding and bike safety are always a good idea as well, not to mention enhancing your bike's comfort and convenience level for you and your passenger. Custom seating can add appreciably to comfort and riding enjoyment with items such as backrests for both rider and passenger, which are often easily removable when you prefer going solo. Heated seats and grips are a plus as well, for those rides in chilly spring weather. Strobe auxiliary lights are an ideal way to improve your visibility to other motorists on the road.

Downtime also allows for boning up on any new regulatory issues for motorcycles that may be required in your region, issues such as exhaust noise levels and handlebar height. Since helmet laws vary from state-to-state, familiarize yourself with the requirements and regulations for other states that you plan to travel to. It may be all right to ride without a helmet where you reside, but not all states allow "wind-in-your-hair" motorcycling.

Bike security can be another concern when making a long road trip, or even a short one for that matter. Installing an alarm system and/or an engine immobilizer can protect your investment when your bike is parked unattended.

In the market for a new ride? There are several international motorcycle shows that take place across the country and abroad before the prime riding season -- a good place to research what's new in the marketplace from all major motorcycle manufacturers, as well as aftermarket equipment, accessories and apparel. Checking out available used bikes during the winter months may yield lower prices, too. So turn off the TV, get up off the couch and get ready to ride.

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