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Even though the weather has been pretty zany here the last few weeks, it’s warming up nicely now and everyone’s itching to get out on the open road. If you haven’t already, this is a great time to spend an afternoon performing a thorough inspection of your bike. It’ll help keep it in optimal condition and prevent major repairs later on.

Look over your tires carefully. Cracks in the rubber, flat spots or nails and screws that may have punctured holes mean it’s time to get some new ones. Check the tire pressures and make sure they’re properly inflated.

Belt or Chain
A broken belt or chain can strand you on the side of the road. Take a few minutes to inspect them for wear and weak spots; replace the belt or chain if you find any damage. It doesn’t hurt to check the tension, either, and make sure it’s up to the manufacturer’s specs.

Spark Plug
Depending on what type of motorcycle you have, a spark plug can be an easy roadside change. A spark plug change on some bikes is not a simple fix because the seat and gas tank need to be removed.  A spark plug costs a few bucks, and it’s better to check and replace it now than wait for it to fail in the middle of your next trip.

If you haven’t started your motorcycle all winter, pull the battery out and charge it overnight. While you have it out, check the fluid levels in each cell. Fill the cells that are below the recommended level with distilled water. Consider purchasing a new battery if it’s more than 4 years old.

Air Filter
Proper airflow into the engine ensures that it runs smoothly and efficiently. Pull the filter out and hold it up to a light source. If you can’t see any light through it, you need to replace or clean it.

Fluid Levels
Stand up your motorcycle so it’s level to ensure accurate readings of the oil and brake fluid levels. Start by covering your gas tank with a cloth or towel because brake fluid can damage the paint. Most motorcycles have a little window on the front of the reservoir indicating the fluid level. If it’s on the low side, open the reservoir and top it off.

Maintaining the engine oil level is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways you can prevent major engine repairs down the road. Low oil levels prevent proper lubrication. Lack of oil prevents parts from moving smoothly, which causes heat friction and can ultimately destroy your engine.

Aside from checking the oil, taking a second to look at your brakes can save you a lot of money down the road, too. Letting your brakes wear down to the metal part of the pad destroys the drums or the disks, which can cost a pretty penny to replace. Most brake pads have a notch on the top to track its wearing. If you don’t see the notch at all, it’s time to replace the pad.

Lubricate the Cables
Over time, clutch and brake cables can wear down and fray. Look at your motorcycle’s maintenance book and figure out how to detach the cables from their housings on the handlebars. Once you can access the cables, apply cable lubricant and let gravity do the rest of the work.

It only takes a second to check that your signal lights, brake lights and headlights work. These lights communicate your moves on the road to other drivers and help you stay safe while riding.

Ride safely this season!

man working on a motorcycle