Home Mobility Motorcycles Getting back in the saddle: making sure you, your bike, and your...

Getting back in the saddle: making sure you, your bike, and your gear are in riding shape

The quarantine has been brutal for everyone, and with the end in sight, it’s about time to think about getting our normal routines going again. I know everyone is eager to get back on the road and moving again, but before heading out, you should take a few extra steps to make sure you, your bike, and your gear are all in riding shape. The only way you want to hit the asphalt is with both wheels firmly planted.

Check Yourself

More than driving a car, riding a motorcycle is a physical experience, and being stuck indoors for an extended period of time isn’t the best thing for range of motion or general wellness. If you have existing medical conditions, it might be best to make sure everything is normal, particularly before embarking on your first long ride after a while. It might sound overly cautious, but it’s definitely not something you want to deal with when you’re out on a long stretch of road.

Give yourself a little stretch and see if any squeaks or creaks have developed in your joints. You don’t want to have to put a foot down only to realize your legs won’t cooperate (or that your riding pants are too tight—more on that later). Have a seat on your bike and move around on it. The garage is the best place to get a good idea if you’re in riding shape.

Check Your Gear

If you’ve ever owned a pair of sneakers that got crumbly after being left in the closet for a stretch of time, you know that gear doesn’t like getting stored for very long. Make sure your helmet liner is free from mold or mildew, and give it a wash if needed. Ensure that the buckle works, and isn’t rusted. Make sure nothing has decided to make a home inside your lid during the lockdown, and give it a good wipe down and sanitizing.

Gloves, shoes, and boots can have rubber parts that get crumbly. Hopefully you got to air them out regularly to keep this from happening, but just the same, make sure everything is still solid. Give these pieces a good flex, and check for cracks, especially along seams, or where two different materials are stitched or glued together.

As much as we hate to admit it, a lot of us will have put on a few inches during our long isolation. It makes sense then to give your gear a thorough and honest fitting. Everything should be snug, but not restrict your movement in a way that won’t let you ride. Zips should all close without resistance, buckles shouldn’t strain against your waist, and clasps should close easily and positively.

Check Your Ride

Washing your bike is a great way to give it a look-over. While you clean the different parts of the motorcycle, take note of any corrosion, cracks in the tires, or any other exterior problems that might cause problems on a ride. Make sure the mirrors aren’t stuck and, once again, that nothing has decided to make a home of your bike while it has been sitting idle. While you’re at it, check to make sure the papers are where you left them, and ensure that the bag or pouch you keep them in is still waterproof.

If you weren’t able to ride at all, make sure your battery has a decent charge. If you have a voltmeter, now is the time to test the resting voltage. A 12V lead-acid battery should read 12.5V or above. If it’s below that, you might have some problems starting. Get a battery conditioner, or borrow one from a friend to get it back into shape. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as desperately trying to get a bike with a weak battery to start.

Check the tank. Ideally you got to store your bike with a full tank of gas, to keep moisture out and the inside of the tank rust-free. Take a quick peek in there to make sure rust hasn’t formed to potentially clog the fuel lines. While you’re there, take note of how much fuel you have left, and plan a trip to the gas station if you need to. Check the rest of the fluid levels as well, particularly if you see anything pooling under your bike while it was sitting.

Check tire wear, air pressure, and overall condition. Your tires are what keep you planted on the road, make sure they’re up to the task. You don’t want to finally get the chance to ride, only to end up sliding all over the road. Take the time to also check your brakes, and make sure everything works as intended, without any loss in feel or pressure.

Check the road. This isn’t really something you can do preemptively, but once everything is ok, and you can go out, don’t assume your usual roads are in the same condition as you remember. A lot could have changed since you last got out. Potholes, obstacles, even road closures might change your ride a lot. Don’t go tearing up the streets at once. This also gives your bike time to loosen up again, and your mind time to adjust to moving faster, and moving on two wheels.

Riding is a great way to relax, get some air, and finally get outside again. Before you do though, take the time to go over the steps above, so that your first ride out after getting stuck indoors is the most fun it can possibly be.

Small updates were made to the original article published in GADGETS MAGAZINE April-May 2020 Issue
Words by Ren Alcantara | Artword by Jezeil Romero