It’s been a winter for the record books this year for most of us in the States. The interminable cold-snow-cold-snow weather pattern has most people at wit’s end, and, by this time, our thoughts can’t help but turn to mild spring days and visions of sunny afternoons tooling around on the motorcycle –purely as a matter of self-preservation!
And while you may be ready and raring to go, there is, of course, a bit of work that needs to take place as you bring your motorcycle out of winter storage. One item on your spring prep list should be a thorough inspection of the tires to determine how well they withstood being parked and stationary for a few months, as well as extended time in cold temps.
A storage area with uncontrolled conditions encourages tire deterioration, particularly on a motorcycle that is not elevated, has no insulating barrier between the tire and concrete, is a larger bike with a heavier load (thereby increasing the size of the tire’s footprint), or just plain, old-time. Any of these factors can lead to breakdown, so be on the lookout for obvious cracks or splits.
Another common, often unavoidable, side effect of a bike’s inactivity is the development of flat spots on the tire. Sometimes these spots are only temporary and work their way out after the tire warms up and puts on a few miles, but they can also turn out to be permanent and create such wobble and vibration while in motion that the tire needs to be replaced altogether.
How can these flat spots be avoided in the first place? Some manufacturers suggest making sure the tires are fully, if not slightly, over-inflated, based on the recommendation outlined in the owner’s manual. Moving your motorcycle periodically during its stint in storage so that a different section of tire becomes the footprint also helps. The most fail-safe method for cold storage of your motorcycle, though, is to use a motorcycle stand or lift and raise one or both tires off the ground completely.
Investing in a lift to remove the wheels yourself
can pay for itself after just one service visit.
If, on the other hand, you knew going into winter you’d need new tires come springtime, you are already prepared for the up-front work to get your bike road-ready for your first spin. Whether you do the work yourself or have tires professionally installed, you may want to consider handling even part of the process yourself to save a few bucks.
Investing in a lift to remove the wheels beforehand versus paying the technician at a garage to perform this basic task can, in many cases, pay for itself with just one service visit. Taking it a step further with your own bead breaker to loosen and remove the tires from the rims is also cost-effective, and a wheel truer or balancer is yet another at-home step to consider if you really enjoy a hands-on approach with your motorcycle’s maintenance.
While most of us have not yet experienced that break in the bitter temperatures to actually warrant bringing the motorcycle out of its winter hibernation, take heart, because it’s at least close enough that we can feel OK to think about thinking about it.
What are your plans to get your bike ready for riding season?
- Flat spots on tires after winter storage. Harley Davidson Forums. March 10, 2008. Retrieved from http://www.hdforums.com/forum/general-harley-davidson-chat/205410-flat-spots-on-tires-after-winter-storage.html
- Tire Flatspotting. Tire Tech Information. Retrieved from http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=42