The summer is officially on its way to the UK, but before we rush to get out motorbikes out of the shed, garage or living room and head for the warm and inviting open road, there are some critical checks to perform. A few cold and wet months in storage could have caused more damage than you’d think, so here’s what to look out for.
Tyres are critical
With only two tyres to work with, as apposed to the four we usefully get given on our cars, it’s more important still for motorcyclists to check their rubber carefully after the long winter lay up.
Rubber doesn’t last forever and over time it will begin to dry and crack, go stiffer and loose its compliance and there its grip. Rubber needs to be soft and flexible to bite into the road and old, hard tyres simply won’t delve into the road surface like some fresh and flexible tyres would.
If the tyres look a little flat – hopefully not totally flat as replacements might be needed – pump them up to the manufacturer’s recommended tyre pressure level and then check them over very thoroughly indeed.
You’re looking for signs of drying, cracking and bulging, and if you any of this then it’s time for a closer look from an expert. If you’re not happy that you have the experience to check and confirm the tyres for yourself, then get the bike down to a local tyre specialist for them to look. Of course, every road-going tyre must have at least 1.6mm of tread depth to be legal.
Suspension must be smooth
A bike’s suspension to stiffen and seize over the cold and wet winter months, and a freely flowing suspension system is very nearly as crucial as the right rubber to keep things the right side up.
Without a correctly functioning suspension system, a motorcycle will struggle to maintain wheel-contact with the road, and if the wheels aren’t in touch with the road enough, then obviously your tyres won’t be either. A well-maintained suspension set up will push that fresh rubber deep into the surface of the road for the very best grip. All of this as well as the usual suspension duties of bumps and dips soaking.
On first inspection after the winter sleep look for any greasy-looking and feeling oil residue on any moving suspension parts. Anything that sides in and out of something else could likely have oil as a component part, and if that oil is leaking then the suspension won’t be at the best level of efficiency.
Again, like the rubber in the tyres, the suspension system will have rubber components that may have aged and degraded as badly as the compound in the tyres. Any rubber component in the suspension that is too old will most certainly have lost some or all of its compliancy, and if this part works as a seal then the seal will be less effective as the rubber part stiffens.
The general rule of thumb is that if it looks and feels old then it probably is, and that it would be best to remove the part for closer inspection and testing. Sorting your brakes and suspension after the long winter will make sure that your first fun ride out will be smooth and carefree, but, if your bike is too far gone then why not check out some fresh Kawasaki motorcycles for sale, with good tyres guaranteed.