Soaring fuel prices have made gas-guzzling cars very unpopular. Welcome to the resurgence of the motorcycle. Why? Because properly maintained motorcycles and motorcycle engines can get between 40 and 60 miles a gallon. Smaller scooters get upwards of 90 miles a gallon, pretty good for an economy with $4-per-gallon gasoline.
Because of this, bike sales have soared. Motorcycle repair, too, can come in handy. Do you have a bike in storage that you haven’t dusted off for awhile? There’s a good chance you can be among those restoring motorcycles so that you can ride your old road hog again.
Restoring your older motorcycle to working condition starts with some basic steps:
If you didn’t use a fuel stabilizer before you put the bike into storage, drain your old fuel (including tank, fuel lines and carburetor as applicable) before you run the engine, and put new in. Lubricate spark plug ports with a little oil, too, before you start things up.
Change the oil and filter if you didn’t do so before you started. If you did, top levels off.
How Is Your Battery?
Make sure leads are not corroded and that the battery will fully charge and then hold a charge. If it doesn’t, replace the battery.
Inspect The Chain
Because your chain transfers power from the engine to the rear wheel, it is very important that it be in excellent shape. Look the chain over for the following:
— Is the chain the proper tension? You should be able to grasp it in the center and move it about one inch in either direction, up or down.
— Are front and wheel sprocket teeth in good condition? If the teeth have grooves or “waves” in them or they show other signs of wear, you probably need new sprockets (chain will probably show similar wear and need replacement).
— Check every single section of the chain for signs of wear and for proper tension. It should move about an inch when you pull on it. Tighten the chain if it’s loose, and loosen it if it’s tight. If the links themselves are too tight, you might need to replace the whole chain.
— Clean dirt off the chain with a clean towel or rag before you apply lubricant. Make sure you thoroughly lubricate all sprocket teeth and links.
— Lubricate the chain well. Remember that some solvents should not be used with rubber if your chain has rubber parts to it. Use a proper solvent and wipe off any excess lubricant with a clean rag.
— Set chain tension properly by moving your rear wheel and axle forward or backward. Both sides of the axle should be aligned properly before you tighten things up or the chain and sprockets might wear out quickly. Tighten the axle nuts and replace the cotter pin with a new one if needed.
Brake, clutch and coolant levels should be checked as necessary. Make sure you replace missing brake fluid with a new container of the same brand you used last time. Let your bike idle for a few minutes before you take off so that all fluids circulate properly.
Tires and Suspension
Inspect everything thoroughly before you take your first ride. If you kept your bike stored upright on a kickstand, make sure your tires aren’t cracked, marked, or flat. In addition, check to make sure tire wear and air levels are good.