Spring Checklist for New Riders (And Proficient Riders too!) - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-25-2013, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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Spring Checklist for New Riders (And Proficient Riders too!)

Hey all!

For a lot of you, you haven't ridden (at least consistently) in the past 2 or 3 (or more) months, but in the next few weeks will be getting that old bike out and hitting the road.

I thought I'd write up a few tips to getting the bike (and you!) ready for spring. If you have something to contribute, feel free!

Getting the Bike Ready:
Mechanical failure is sometimes a pretty silly reason to wreck, often because it's easily avoidable. Here are a few things to double check before riding out this spring;

TIRES;

Check pressure in both tires. This is a good habit to have anyway, doing it every week or two. However, often those first days of spring can give us a short riding window and we don't want to waste it doing anything else! But, make sure to check that tire pressure. It could have dropped 10 or 15 PSI over the winter, even a couple pounds difference can seriously affect braking and handling! Better to find it out in the garage, than on the road!

OIL;

Check your oil level, and change the oil if it's time. Remember that oil does break down over time when it's been introduced to the moisture and contaminants in your engine. If you've ridden sporadically over the winter (meaning occasional warmup and cooldown; which can be hard on a stored engine), you might consider an early spring oil change. That's optional, and depends on you and your maintenance schedule. However, it's good to check the oil level anyway to ensure it's not low.

CONTROLS;

Check to make sure all of your controls are free and not binding, and that they feel like they should. Rust could have crept up into a cable over the winter, or something could have come loose. Sure would stink you be out of the driveway and coming up on a stop sign when you find out your brakes aren't working!

FLUIDS;

Check brake, clutch (if applicable) fluid levels, also take a look at coolant levels and any other fluids your bike may have (final drive, etc.)

LIGHTS;

Check and make sure your headlight, taillight, running lights and turn signals are working as they should.

TIRES;

You've already checked the tire pressure, but give them a good once-over and check for cracks, wear, cupping, or other potential hazards. Tires can sometimes develop damage or dry rot when stored over the winter.

ACCESSORIES;

Make sure that any accessories you have are securely installed, that nothing has come loose, and that everything is behaving as it should.

All of these things are good to check periodically throughout the riding season. But they are CRUCIAL to check in the spring, as winter storage; despite the bike not being ridden; can hide some really serious gremlins.

GETTING YOU READY:

If the bike is safe and ready, make sure you are safe and ready! The following is especially true for new riders, but this really should apply to all riders!

GEAR;

Anything you typically wear when you ride might have been stored in a closet over the winter. Riding gear, a vest, a leather jacket for the cold, helmet, etc. Check to make sure they aren't somehow damaged or frayed, which could become a hazard. Might be worth washing and cleaning everything when the weather starts to get warmer, so you don't spoil that first spring ride with a stinky helmet liner!

PRACTICE!;

Once you get the bike out, get her warmed out then find a nice open parking lot or a nice open street with no traffic. Practice braking, and work your way up to a maximum effort stop from a moderate speed (Maximum Effort stop means the most stopping power you can muster from the bike WITHOUT locking up the tires)

Get a feel for the bike by practicing swerving (I like to pick out anomalies in the road, like a leaf or a filled in pothole, and make them a 'target' to swerve around, similar to a small animal that might run into my path in the spring!)

It's a great idea to get a feel for the machine by doing some basic practice exercises. I like to do this every couple of months; or whenever I think about it. But, if you're like me you've spent way too much time in a car over the winter. So; take the time to re-acquaint yourself with that bike and remind those muscles where that maximum effort stop point is, where the friction zone on the clutch is, etc.



Just thought I'd post those couple of tips as I recall we had several new riders late last summer and late last fall on this forum. Might be some good tips for those folks to remember; but again, I really think ALL riders should have a 'spring ritual' that involves checking over the bike, and a quick refresher on handling the bike in adverse situations.

If anyone has anything to add let me know and I'll add it to the list!

"8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 5:8 (NIV)

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-25-2013, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans5.8 View Post
It's a great idea to get a feel for the machine by doing some basic practice exercises. I like to do this every couple of months; or whenever I think about it. But, if you're like me you've spent way too much time in a car over the winter. So; take the time to re-acquaint yourself with that bike and remind those muscles where that maximum effort stop point is, where the friction zone on the clutch is, etc.
Its a good thing. I usually feel a little rusty when spring starts to roll around. It felt good for me this past weekend since that was the first time I had mine out for any decent mileage in a few months. (around 200) Nothing much but more than it has been.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-25-2013, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SWVA_08V2k View Post
Its a good thing. I usually feel a little rusty when spring starts to roll around. It felt good for me this past weekend since that was the first time I had mine out for any decent mileage in a few months. (around 200) Nothing much but more than it has been.
I haven't been able to do more than 40 or 50 miles on mine. It's really only been getting up above freezing to decent riding temps (mid 40's or better) for a few hours each day, really limits the range! Absolutely sucks being out later than you expecting and trying to ride home when the sun went down and it's 30 degrees all of a sudden, despite it being 50 when you got there!

"8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 5:8 (NIV)

2014 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero ABS SE
iPod Connector Kit, Kuryakyn Highway Pegs, Mustang Touring Seat, Marvella's Hitch, Kuryakyn Trailer Wiring Kit, Haul-Master Tag-a-Long Cargo Trailer

2011 Honda Shadow Aero 750 (Wife's)

Memphis shades quick-release windshield, OEM Solo Seat, Mustang Fender Bib, Chrome Solo Luggage Rack

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-25-2013, 03:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans5.8 View Post
I haven't been able to do more than 40 or 50 miles on mine. It's really only been getting up above freezing to decent riding temps (mid 40's or better) for a few hours each day, really limits the range! Absolutely sucks being out later than you expecting and trying to ride home when the sun went down and it's 30 degrees all of a sudden, despite it being 50 when you got there!
I usually try and leave the house when it is that cold in hopes it warms up quicker than what the weatherman says it will.

1985 Honda Nighthawk 650 (First Bike)
2004 Vulcan 1500 Classic (First Big Bike)
2007 Vulcan 1600 Meanstreak (Love Affair)
1999 Yamaha 1100 V-Star Custom (Right Price at the Time)
2008 V2K Classic (Favorite Vulcan)
2014 HD Ultra Limited (Bells and Whistles)
Who would have thought I would grow up to become "Spatially Educated" and play Connect-the-Dots for a living.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-25-2013, 11:14 PM
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Thank you for posting this list. I am exactly the target audience. This was my first winter since I started riding. I didn't think it would be easy, but I am really starting to go crazy now. It pains me to look at my bike every day as I get into my car and get home from work.

Wisconsin has 5 months of winter. We're just about through #4. Last year we had 80's in March. Doesn't look like that is going to happen this year. I guess as long as the snow starts melting I can't complain too much.

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-26-2013, 03:05 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kiwikat View Post
Thank you for posting this list. I am exactly the target audience. This was my first winter since I started riding. I didn't think it would be easy, but I am really starting to go crazy now. It pains me to look at my bike every day as I get into my car and get home from work.

Wisconsin has 5 months of winter. We're just about through #4. Last year we had 80's in March. Doesn't look like that is going to happen this year. I guess as long as the snow starts melting I can't complain too much.
We're pretty fortunate in Missouri. Although we get a good winter and a little snow, there are warm fronts that come through that mean, worst case scenario, I only go 3-4 weeks without riding before I have a couple days of rideable weather (50's for the high), but at the same time, we don't get the unbearable summer temps (often, maybe for a week or two in July or August)

"8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 5:8 (NIV)

2014 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero ABS SE
iPod Connector Kit, Kuryakyn Highway Pegs, Mustang Touring Seat, Marvella's Hitch, Kuryakyn Trailer Wiring Kit, Haul-Master Tag-a-Long Cargo Trailer

2011 Honda Shadow Aero 750 (Wife's)

Memphis shades quick-release windshield, OEM Solo Seat, Mustang Fender Bib, Chrome Solo Luggage Rack

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-26-2013, 03:46 PM
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Under the heading of "Practice", I'd like to suggest something. I think it's a good idea to go to a vacant parking lot and practice doing tight figure 8's. You might be amazed at what 15 minutes of figure 8 riding will do for your ability to handle the bike in close situations.

Another thing to practice while you're there is the "slow" race. In other words, see how SLOW you can go without putting your foot down. Pick a starting point and a finish point and see how long you can take to get there without putting your foot down while still going in a reasonably straight line. This helps greatly with your balance and "feel" for the bike.

It takes FAR more skill to use the clutch, throttle, and brake in close maneuvers than it does to ride 80 mph down the interstate.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-26-2013, 05:17 PM
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i also try to find a "BOX" in a parking lot.. about the same size as my driveway.. better to get the slow speed balance there than running off my driveway into the soft mushy grass/mud
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 01:07 PM
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Thanks for the great list Romans.8- as a new rider last spring, this winter has been HARD! And up here in Ontario, winter won't be over until probably April.
And there's the salt problem...gotta wait til it washes away too, so I keep looking for more information and cool stuff for my bike, to use in the spring. Highway bars are going on first, then a new windshield...once I can get on it to measure for that. I'm 5'9", so I think maybe 17"?

Your list will be very handy, since it's my first time getting her out of storage. I will definitely be practicing in the local arena parking lot again this spring- it's true, slower is harder! And my Vulcan is heavier than the Honda I had last year. (But much more comfortable!)
Cheers,
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 06:45 PM
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And everybody remember the leftover sand on the road, especially at curves and intersections. You can easily have your bike slide out from under you, or even have your feet slide out from under you at a dead stop at stop signs & intersections.

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