Getting Your Ride Ready for the Road

So here we are, it’s time to drag the bike out and you haven’t done anything that you said you would. You filled up the tank and slammed it in the garage where it’s been lying buried under a tarp since the end of October and now the weather has warmed up and you’re itching to get it on the road.

Well, for those of you who are slacking, you need to check all the stuff that we’ve talked about time and again – tires, oil, plugs, filters, brakes and fuel.

For the rest of you that are at the front of the class, you put everything away properly and now you’re looking at a dusty bike that you aren’t really happy with. In this case, an air compressor is your friend and if you can simply blow it all off, you’re in the clear before you actually go back and get everything cleaned up. Otherwise, that’s the extent of your needs.

Now, there are a few of us who, for a variety of reasons, might want to completely detail your bike before you get it out on the road and I’m going to share some ideas for getting the hog back out of the garage and make it look better without spending an entire day on it.

If you have a dirty engine in that dirty bike, you’ve got some options. Lots of chrome means you’ll be better off with a milder cleaner – think of the stuff that probably lives under your kitchen sink. Requisition an old sponge with the worn out scotch brite pad on the back and let it rip. When it’s time to polish the chrome, track down a high quality product that has stood the test of time like Mother’s or Turtle Wax, a few old towels, and a case of elbow grease and get busy.

If you are like me and fundamentally a lazy individual, then try this one – warm the engine up for a few minutes – not scalding hot – but at least warm. Using the spray can engine cleaner that is on sale at your local auto parts store, hose everything down. Crack open an oat soda. Smoke a cigarette. Wait five more minutes and get the garden hose and then spray the dirt away. Keep spraying. Once you’ve gotten into all the nooks and crannies, then let the heat in the motor case dry the engine and then, fire it up again and repeat the process … but instead of hosing, you want to insert another step – scrub the engine down with a soft scrub brush that has bristles at least 2 inches long.

Wait another five minutes, despite how hard that will be. Now re-hose the engine and you are ready to get rolling on making your bike pretty.

You’ve got a clean engine and what you actually need to do is to start polishing shiny stuff. Bear in mind that this process can be repeated on nearly every surface – I wouldn’t hit leather and the seat, but you get the idea. Yes, you can overdo it and screw up electronics if you get overzealous, so show some restraint in respect to the electrical systems on newer bikes – consider yourself warned.

For the most part, though, you can’t screw this up. Be smart, think about the actions you’re taking, and bring your elbow grease. The end result after just a couple of hours? A shiny bike that is ready for Spring.

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