May is Motorcycle Awareness Month
Spring is in full swing and around the country, motorcyclists are returning to the road after a long winter. But with a sudden spike in the number of motorcycles on the road, it’s a good time to remind all motorists, whether on two wheels or four, to keep a special lookout for motorcyclists.
That’s why May is recognized as National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, a time for drivers to be reminded to share the road with motorcycles, and riders to be reminded to make themselves more visible to others.
Distracted drivers are a danger to everyone, particularly vulnerable road users like motorcyclists, and you never know who might be riding that motorcycle you encounter. The preoccupied cell phone talker straddling lanes on the freeway, the business person fumbling with a pocket computer while turning, or the hair brusher watching the image in the mirror instead of the stopped traffic ahead.
By consciously looking for motorcycles in May, we hope this will grow into a habit that will last the rest of the year, and longer.
Our message to all drivers and motorcyclists is: Make this the first year in recent years when motorcycle fatalities do NOT increase. Help to share in the responsibility and do your part by safely “Sharing the Road.”
The Gold Wing Road Riders Association promotes safety through rider training and education. http://gwrra.org
How to Get Your Motorcycle Out of
Storage and Back on the Road
Coming Out of Storage
Even if you applied the motorcycle storage tips before putting your bike away for the winter, you’ll want to go through this checklist before hitting the road this riding season.
Is the Fuel OK? If you used Sta-Bil or a comparable fuel stabilizer as outline in the storage tips, your fuel should be in good shape as long as it’s been a year or less. Regardless, double check by opening the filler cap and looking inside for gunk or stratification.
If the fuel is consistent and clean, you can go to the next step. If not, you’re better off draining the tank, fuel lines, and carburetor (if applicable) before running the engine. If you didn’t spray fogging oil or lubricate the top of the cylinder before storage, you may want to remove the spark plugs and pour two tablespoons of oil into the spark plug ports; this will lubricate the top portion of the cylinder walls before you start up the bike.
Check the Engine Oil’s Quality and Quantity: Whether or not you changed your engine oil before storage, you’ll still want to check the oil level before riding. If you didn’t do an oil change before storage, now is a good time to consider that oil and filter change, especially since oil degrades when it sits.
Charged UP? Motorcycle batteries tend to lose life quickly, especially in cold weather. If you kept your battery trickle charged or hooked up to a tender, it’s probably I n good shape. Nonetheless, check the leads for corrosion, and make sure they’re attached snugly. If applicable, make sure your battery is topped off with distilled water, and if it’s not completely charged don’t ride until you’re confident it will hold a charge and not leave you stranded.
Check for Leaks: Check your clutch, brake, and coolant levels (if applicable.) Remember that if brake fluid needs topping off, you’ll need to use a new, sealed supply that is the same brand as the fluid already in the system.
Check the Tires: If you kept weight off your motorcycle’s wheels and suspension, Bravo! Chances are your tires and suspension are in good shape, but you should still thoroughly inspect them before riding. If your motorcycle rested on a kickstand, check to make sure there are no unusual stress marks, cracks, or flat spots on the tires.
Are You Ready to Ride: Use the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s T-CLOCS checklist this, and every time you ride. The list covers Tires, Controls, Lights, Oils & fluids, Chassis and Stands. Don’t just take off after a thorough inspection; let the bike idle for a few minutes to get its fluids circulation. Take those moments to get reacquainted with the bike’s ergonomics. Before you go riding off into the sunset, don’t forget that the most important component of a motorcycle is you, the operator. If you suspect you’re rusty (and there’s as good possibility you are), practiced riding in an abandoned parking lot, taking it easy until you’re up to speed.