Hey man, cheer up!
Here at the Bikers’ Den we know how you feel. You’re watching the Spring Break junk on the tube. The Golf crowd is all worked about the Masters. California is already in a drought. Your bike is still buried in cold storage. So we’re here with good news and some solid tips for getting back on the road. Here’s your hint on that good news – we got shot. That’s spelled S-C-H-O-T-T. The real gear for the real biker.
Now, whether you’re riding a crotch rocket or a shovelhead, you have some spring cleaning to do. I’m talking a spring tune up, and don’t wimp out and take it to the shop. They want your money, but this isn’t rocket science, it’s basic maintenance… all of these are going to apply to you, but some will be more important depending on what you are riding. Every one of these can be done with hand tools, some easily found lubricants, fresh brake fluid and a little basic logic.
What do you need to do? Here’s a play-by-play for you to get your ride ready for some runs.
- Shocking – Pull the battery and check it. No charge and no white buildup means you are probably good for another season, but you need some juice. If you don’t have a trickle charger, now is a great time to invest in one, and go ahead and hook your battery up to it while you are knocking out the rest of this list.
- Lube and Filters – Break out the factory service manual (or just Google it) and change out the oil, oil filter, and the air and fuel filter. If you just parked the bike last fall and didn’t winterize it, now would be a great time to pray that the gas in the tank hasn’t gotten stale or watered down. Worst case? Siphon it out, add a little fresh gas, run the motor to purge the old gas from the lines, then change the fuel lines and fill up the tank. As finicky as multi-carb setups can be, don’t tempt fate next time. Old gas can slowly varnish your carbs, and that is not fun to fix or rebuild. Use a fuel stabilizer next time you park her for the winter. Depending on how new or old your bike is, you may need to hit a few grease fittings, but many of the newer models these are maintenance-free. Ditto all the levers on a bike. Wipe them down, lube them up.
- Plugged Up – So now the oil is good, and you have fuel, you are gonna need spark. Pull the plugs, check out their condition, and replace them. Make sure you set the right gap, and don’t over-think it! Platinum, iridium, unobtinium. Put a good, reputable plug in there and relax. You aren’t going to make a nine second drag bike out of a 45 cubic inch Flathead, so stick with what the pros recommend and ride. Check the plug wires at the same time, and if they are cracked or show some wear, install some fresh ones. Cheap insurance…
- Chain – now, check and clean the chain. Youtube is full of videos on how to check and adjust chain tensioners, so get a little education and have at it. Remember, a clean chain is a happy chain, so hit it with a good aerosol solvent, even WD-40, then scrub it down with a bristle brush. Sacrifice an old t-shirt and wipe all that gunk off, then hit it with the recommended lubricant.
- Stop? When the old guy in the Taurus pulls out in front of you, you need to know the brakes work. Now is the time to bleed the brakes and thoroughly inspect them. Make sure the pads are well within specs, and remember that brake fluid attracts water. Purge all that out and put in fresh. Remember, you don’t have to go, but you have to stop.
- Got rubber? Look at your tires. Are they cracked? Worn? Flat spot? Now is the time to get that addressed and remember, it’s a whole lot more fun to have somebody else change them out with the right tools than it is to try to do it on he road.
I know, all bikes are different. If you are rocking an old Harley with the sand-cast block, you are going to drip oil. Hell, it’s just expected. Same thing with zerk fittings. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Early Gold Wings didn’t have a fitting on the final drive shaft, newer models do. Take the time to learn where this stuff is, because in the real world, plenty of shops may not have all the answers, either. At the end of the day, you are the one sitting on the side of the road.
Now, what was the good news we were talking about? The Biker’s Den is now featuring Schott NYC leather for riders. Want to see how you’d look? Right here, boss. This is legendary leather. 102 years of pride and quality. The fourth generation of the family is making this leather. It just doesn’t get any better for bikers. You think you’re a bad boy on your custom Springer? Put on some Schott gear and you will know you’re a bad ass. That’s why we got it for you.
Keep it between the ditches and watch out for the four-wheelers.