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Returning Your Bike to Service


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With riding season fast approaching, we will go through the proper technique to start up the bike and get it ready for the coming riding season.

If you followed the steps outlined in our earlier tech tip “Winter storage” You are 90% of the way there. If not, well, we’ll see.

The first thing to do is charge up the battery before you even think about touching the starter button. The batteries in bikes are small to conserve weight and the time spent sitting in the cool or cold environment combine to reduce the amount of current available to start the engine. The maximum rate of charge input is characteristically 4-5 amps on a trickle charger. More than this and the battery can explode from shock if frozen ( always check this first ) or gas expansion if not able to vent the pressure. Both are a bad deal and can be very exciting. You can get better results with a slow charge for a longer time than a fast charge for a short time which can buckle plates and ruin the battery.

The length of time the battery needs to be on is: the amp-hour rating of the battery divided by the charge rate. For example: a 12 amp-hour battery charged on a 2 amp charger needs 6 hours. This formulas holds true for all lead acid batteries whether in a car, boat, ATV or whatever.

If the battery is not fully charged, the starter motor will draw all the current available leaving nothing for the ignition so plugs may not fire. This will lead to wet-fouled plugs needing to be replaced and the battery being charged after all.

The next thing to do is check the oil level. Follow the proper procedure for your model (In sporties and softails a large puddle under the bike is an indication of sumping which happens sometimes after storage).

On a Harley or other dry-sump bike it is a little bit different as the oil may have run down into the sump of the motor. You need to start the bike and let it run for about 3 to 5 minutes to let the system start to equalize and indicate the proper level of oil.

Check the tires to be sure they are properly inflated, and make needed adjustments.

Next is to turn on the gas and watch for leaks. Leaks are bad, but if the bowls are completely empty on carbed models (as indicated is best in the Winter Storage Checklist) then the floats can hang up when refilled the first time. A gentle tap on the carb with a hammer HANDLE may shake the needles loose and allow the proper filling.

If there are no leaks now you should be ready to start up.

Once the bike is running, it is best to ride it before shutting it off. This will put a load on the motor and dry off the plugs, thus reducing the tendency to wet-foul.

Always check the pressure in your tires before riding.

You should be ready to go.