Unless you're one of those hardy, all-year-round, bikers whose resilience has to be admired, the chances are it’s about this time of year that your thoughts are beginning to wander, thinking of days out and planning trips away on your motorcycle.
It’s certainly this time of year when I begin planning trips with my mates. We all start watching the weather forecasts with eagle eyes to see the first break in the clouds and, with any luck, an end to the ice, snow, salty roads, wind and rain.
Hopefully, when you put your bike into storage for the winter there are certain things you did whether it was in a shed, garage, or just wrapped up outside the house just to keep it in tip-top condition for the new season. Basic precautions a few months ago should mean that your pride and joy is still in pristine condition and ready to roar.
While this is a bit back-to-front, and recognising that everybody has their own routine, I still think it may be helpful to some to run through some of the things I do, and some of the things I should do, before I put my bike away for the winter.
I have the advantage of storing my bike in a wooden shed with a wooden floor and I also have a centre stand fitted which allows me to jack up the front wheel and balance the bike on the centre stand. This keeps both front and rear tyres off the ground to ensure that they do not develop flat spots. Whether this does any good or not I don’t know, but it’s something I was advised to do many years ago and I have done it every year since. If getting the tyres up isn’t possible, I’m told that parking the bike on wood or carpet is advised, particularly if you have a concrete floor surface.
Another top tip I have is to make sure your bike is thoroughly washed before you put it away, just in case you have picked up any salt on your last run of the season. After I do that, I spray the bike, especially on the lower exposed parts, with ACF50, or something similar to prevent corrosion.
Batteries should also be cared for over the winter, however, I have to confess that last year I didn't take that precaution and during November I was contacted by my tracker provider to say that they had lost contact with the bike. Having confirmed that the bike was still stored and letting them know, I was then faced with the prospect of using jump leads to get it started, which is not ideal and ultimately cost me a new battery! In future, I will be connecting up a trickle charger, either through the mains, or using a solar power trickle charger, both of which are readily available.
Since my bike is stored in a shed that is rarely visited over the Winter, I also set a couple of mouse traps, much to my wife's amusement. The reason for this is that the last thing I want is a pesky mouse getting into my wiring loom and having an extended lunch!
So, when the time comes, and the sun is beginning to shine, we are all already to go, or are we? I would suggest that we take a few minutes more to run through some basic checks before we ride off into the Spring sunshine.
Check 1. Always examine my tyres visually for tred depth, any damage, and also check my tyre pressures. This is the first check I do after Winter storage and I always revisit this check before riding the bike, just to make sure there isn’t a slow puncture or leaking valve causing a continuous decrease in pressure. Remember that the legal limit for bike tyres is 1mm around the whole circumference of the tyre tread and it’s easy to do this first check if the bike is balanced with the tyres off the deck.
Check 2. Always check your electrics, making sure every function on the bike is correctly working such as, brake lights, indicators, side lights and headlights. The other obvious checks for me are fuel, oil, and other levels, such as coolant, if appropriate, as well as brake and clutch.
Check 3. Visual checks around the bike should tell you if any leaks have developed and also that all the panels, saddle and accessories, are secure.
Lastly, and perhaps the most obvious things to check, which are perhaps easiest to miss are the following;
- Check that your Driving Licence is still valid – it only lasts 10 years.
- Check that your Insurance is valid and didn’t expire during the winter.
- If your bike is three or more years old, check to make sure you have a valid MOT?
- If your bike was SORN, you will need to make sure you have paid the VED for the bike?
- If you had Warranty. Has it expired? Do you need to put in place breakdown/recovery?
Once all of the above is done which doesn't take very long, you should be safe to get out there and enjoy the fantastic roads that we have at our disposal in Scotland and beyond.
From all at the bikers at Motorcycle Law Scotland, we hope that you have a very enjoyable season, so please go steady to begin with, and please keep an eye out for us and say hello.
Also, in the unfortunate event that something untoward happens to you, please make sure you have our contact details somewhere handy and make sure you speak to us before engaging any Solicitor your Insurer might offer. Do this because we are a free service provided by passionate bikers working for the benefit of injured bikers.