Check the engine
Even if you changed your oil before winter, it’s still a good idea to change it again to make sure your motorcycle is ready and performs under optimal conditions during this new riding season. When you change the oil you must replace the oil filter as well.
If the cylinders have been treated with WD40 before winter storage to prevent rusting, both these as well as the valves should be in good condition and don’t require any further maintenance. If oil was poured inside the cylinders, you have to rotate the engine after removing the spark plugs and cover the plug holes with a rag in order to catch any surplus oil that comes out.
This is done by rotating the crankshaft with a wrench as opposed to an electric starter or using a kick. Another way of rotating the engine is to place the bike in second gear and turn the wheel. Both ways imply that you first remove the spark plugs and keep the ignition off.
During storage, the clutch plates often stick together. You can visit a mechanic to help you separate them. A quick method to accomplish this by yourself is to place the bike in gear and before starting the engine, rock the bike back and forth with the clutch pulled in. This frees the plates.
Check the fuel
The gasoline’s quality drops after it has been stored for months inside the gas tank. Unless you added a fuel stabilizer before storage, your carburetor may need a full refurbishing to eliminate any residue from its components. You can tell that your carburetor is clogged by poor quality fuel if your bike only runs on choke at small openings of the throttle.
This happens because, as time passes, the combustible elements from your fuel evaporate. Moreover, if fuel remains unused for a long time inside the gas tank, it can cause varnish to form in the system and block filters. Temperature changes may cause condensation to form on the tank’s inside walls, leading to other problems.
Ideally, you should completely dry out the tank before storing the bike and observe if the tank is clean on the inside. If you didn’t drain the fuel or add a fuel stabilizer, you should now fill up the tank with high-octane fuel to make sure there is as much fresh gasoline as possible before starting it for the first time this season.
Check the electrical system
If you haven’t disconnected the battery or installed a smart charger before storing the bike for winter, chances are that recharging is in order or even a complete replacement of the battery. You can find out about the state of your battery by using a digital multimeter and measuring the voltage output.
If the battery terminals are corroded, you can clean them using a baking soda and water mix. Make sure that you disconnect the cables first. Brush off the corrosion and then rinse the terminals. Wait for the water to completely evaporate before reconnecting the cables. To prevent such corrosion from forming again, there are terminal protector sprays you can apply.
Assuming that you have a charged and functional battery you must then check all the lights, including the turn signals and stop lights. To check the stop lights by yourself pull the brake lever with one hand and with the other hand reach and hover it just above the brake lights to see if it reflects red light as you break. Also, you may use a mirror placed behind your bike.
Check the tires
Ideally, the bike should be stored with its tires off the ground. If this is the case, you only need to give them a visual inspection. However, if the bike has been sitting on its tires during winter, the rubber has most likely deformed and an indentation is visible on the area where the tires have made contact with the ground.
This indentation is known as a flat spot and happens especially if the tires have deflated since the last ride. To remove the flat spot and to correct the shape of the tire you have to over-inflate it by about 20% and leave it like that for a period of at least 24 hours. For example, if your tire usually has a pressure of 32 PSI, you would increase it to 38,5 PSI.
It is very important not to ride the bike while the tires are under these high pressures. Don’t forget to adjust the pressure levels back to normal before going out on the bike. Another option that you have is to change the tires completely. If you were thinking about changing them for a while, then this is a good opportunity, especially if you see cracks or rot on their surface.
Check the brake system
The brake rotors must be cleaned using specialized products and the brake fluid should be bled. The brakes are not as effective as they were before the winter so take care when heading out for the first time in traffic this season.
Give it a wash
Once you have checked everything else and your bike functions perfectly it would be a shame not to clean it as well. During these few months, the dust has surely gathered on your motorcycle and after the previous maintenance routine you may see even more dirt, oil or gasoline smudges on it.
Give your bike a proper wash before going out riding. During spring the weather is unpredictable and patches of snow may turn into dirty water. Protect your bike by applying some wax and be careful as you ride because the road conditions are still far from ideal and your skills are not as sharp as they were before winter.
How to start a carbureted motorcycle
Starting an old motorcycle may sound simple enough, but the procedure can be a bit difficult when dealing with carbureted motorcycles. This breed of bikes is slowly disappearing, but there are still plenty of models on the street or in showrooms, which is why we feel that this guide will be very useful.
If you want to know how to start a dirt bike that has been sitting for a month or more, you have come to the right place. You will need to begin by opening the tank and checking the fuel level. Next, you should look for the choke lever located on the handlebar. With some models, the choke lever can be mounted directly on the carburetor.
The choke lever will provide the rich fuelmixture that the engine needs when it has not been used for long periods. The colder the engine is or the dirtier that the carburetor is, the longer that the choke will need to stay engaged. You’ll need to keep the choke lever or the cut-off switch as it is also called, in the “on” position.
You will also have to leave the throttle twist-grip on the handlebar closed when operating the kick-start lever or the starter motor since, otherwise, the engine can flood. Keep in mind that the choke level is only necessary when starting a motorcycle after long storage. If it has been running lately, this step won’t be necessary.
Next, you will need to turn the ignition to the “on” position. When the bike is in this position, you should be able to notice dash lights turning on. When the bike is in neutral, a green light will show up.
Now is time to start the engine, and to do this, you will need to squeeze and then hold on the clutch lever down. The clutch lever is located on the left side of the handlebar. While holding on the clutch lever down, you should push the start button located on the right. After doing this, you should immediately hear the joyous sound of the carbureted motorcycle cranking up.
Once the engine fires, you should close the choke lever gradually and open the throttle a bit while the engine warms. You might still need some choke for short distance riding, but if you want to achieve smoother running, you should close the choke lever sooner rather than later. Furthermore, try not to over-rev the bike while it is warming up.
What if your motorcycle won’t start after winter storage?
If you’re having difficulties starting your motorcycle after winter storage, you can usually identify the problem by looking at the three main things that the bike needs to run, namely spark, fuel and air mixture, and compression.
Electrical problems are very common, but they are also very difficult to troubleshoot. You should first start with the simple things and make sure that the key is turned to “run” or “on” and the kill switch is in the right position. Similarly, make sure that the motorcycle is in neutral and that the kickstand is up.
If, after checking these simple things, the bike is still not starting, you should proceed to investigate the engine spark. In most cases, changing the plugs will resolve the problem. Troubleshooting other electrical issues requires a more involved process that is better carried out by a mechanic.
When you have a motorcycle sitting for 2 years or just 2 months, it is very common to encounter fuel problems. We’ve talked about how gas can break down, but you should know that old fuel can dry out and clog vent tubes, preventing the fresh gas from flowing through the system.
Another fuel issue you are likely to encounter is the engine getting flooded. To unflood the engine, you will first need to remove the spark plugs. With the spark plugs removed, turn off the choke and turn the motor over until you have successfully eliminated all the excess gas.
If you’re still having fuel flow problems, this might be a sign that you need to clean the carbs. Furthermore, a loose or broken vacuum line can also cause too much air to be drawn in the combustion chamber, and this can alter the air-fuel mixture. Always check the vacuum lines for holes or cracks.
The final thing left to troubleshoot is the compressor. If all or one of your cylinders have very low or no compression, then the engine won’t be able to fire properly. To check the compression of the cylinder, you will need to get a compression tester. Low compression can be a sign of physical damage to the pistons and cylinders.
Lastly, starting 2 stroke engine after storage often requires excess fuel if the motorcycle has been sitting for a long while. There’s also a chance that the bike will require crank seals and fresh fuels and plugs. If that is the case, you should put oil down each plug hole using a syringe and then try to start it.
How to keep rotors from rusting during storage
Storing a motorcycle outside can make it more prone to rusting, particularly the brake rotors. If your motorcycle has been in storage only for a few weeks or months, usually the first few stops after driving the bike again will remove all the rust. However, if the motorcycle has been sitting in storage for years, then you will need to take some preventive measures.
There are many rust prevention liquids on the market that are designed to protect the metal from corrosion and rust. You can apply them to the areas that you want to be protected. Most products available on the market will dry within 30 minutes to one hour. The clear protective coating will protect the metal for up to one year on average.
The important thing to remember is that once spring comes and you take the bike out of storage, you will need to clean the rotors with solvent to remove the protective coating. Failing to do this can risk contaminating the pads, which will render them ineffective.