That golden light seeping into the garage as I open the garage door, is the first hint at the existence of a great golden orb high in the sky which hasn’t been seen for months… It’s Spring time!  In this article I’m going to run through 15 basic steps you should perform to your bike to get it ready for the riding season.  (While you should of course do more extensive maintenance, such as re-torqueing bolts, and inspecting hoses, along with your scheduled engine maintenance items…this guide covers the basics that all motorcycle owners should do each spring).


(1)     Change the oil and filter.  You’ll want to get fresh oil and a good new filter on for the new riding season, and get rid of that old oil that’s sat through the winter.  (If your bike has a chain, go ahead and get some fresh chain lube on the drive chain as well).


(2)     Check your clutch fluid if you have a hydraulic clutch, or inspect the clutch cable operation of a manual clutch.  (Take this opportunity to also check your driveshaft gear oil level, if you have a driveshaft instead of a chain, like the FJR 1300 does).


(3)    Check your front brake reservoir fluid level.


(4)     Check your rear brake reservoir fluid level.


You may have to remove some body panels to get to this on your bike, as I did on the FJR 1300 Gen 1.

(5)     Check the coolant level.


In this picture, the coolant is actually full, but it’s impossible to tell on visual inspection. 

I had to take a clean wooden skewer and dip it into the opened reservoir to determine the fluid level on my FJR 1300.

(6)     Check the remaining brake pad material on your front pads each side, both discs.


I have 4 front brake pads on the FJR.  They all looked very good like the above, with pad thickness roughly double the backing plate thickness (nearly like new).


(7)     While you’re down here inspecting the front brakes, take the opportunity to check each bolt for your calipers.  (Refer to your Motorcycle Owner’s Manual and the internet for torque specs if you need to re-torque any bolts).


I’ve heard stories of guys finding missing bolts and their calipers only barely hanging on!


(8)     Check the remaining brake pad material on your rear pads each side if possible.


On the FJR my rear brake pads are worn more than the front, and I’ll inspect them again in 2-3 months to determine rate of wear and if I’ll need to replace them this year.


(9)     Inspect the bottom of the rear shock for any leaks.


It will be quite obvious if your rear shock has been leaking, as the bottom adjusters and shock pivot will be coated in oil. 

(The dark spot on my FJR center stand is actually from that overflow tube dripping fluid on it)


(10)  Inspect your front forks and radiator.


Look for leaking seals, and any issues or rough spots on the forks.  Also inspect the radiator for any obvious rock and debris damage. (A significant rock hit can easily damage the radiator, and further vibrations from riding will open up a weak spot, usually when you’re far away from home).


(11)  Test all of your lights.  (If you had your battery out for the winter, now’s the time to hook it back up).


Test your right turn signal, left turn signal (front and rear).  Test your brake light from both your front brake and from your rear brake (these are often adjustable if the brake light doesn’t come on when it should, look for an adjuster near the pedal or lever).  You may have to start your motorcycle to test your low beams and high beams, so ensure it is in neutral and the oil change is completed and oil filled before starting.


(12)  Air up your tires to appropriate pressures.


On the FJR 1300 with Pilot Road 2’s I run 38 PSI front, and 40 PSI rear. 

(Refer to your M.O.M. and your experience for appropriate cold tire pressures)


(13)  Lucky number 13 is to check your oil level, re-check the filter tightness, and re-check the drain bolt and filler cap tightness.  Step back and just do an overall check of your bike.  Has anything been left off, or not reinstalled from the previous steps?  What about underneath your bike or behind it?  Any tools laying out?  Any fresh leaks underneath?


I’ve heard of numerous times that folks don’t torque their drain plug, or forget and leave the filler cap off, and had oil shoot out, or run out all over. 

I actually saw a guy a couple years ago who obviously had an issue, as his Busa was leaving a nice thick oil slick and smoke behind him as he gingerly tried to make it home from an apparent oil leak. 

(Suffice it to say oil on a rear tire is a bad combination)!


(14)  Step 14 is to check over your riding gear.  Any holes in your jacket or gloves you didn’t notice last year?  Any spiders or scorpions crawl into your boots or helmet?  (Hey it happens..better to find out now than when an appendage is in there and you’re rolling down the road).  Clean and fog prep your helmet visor, as it’s often still cold in the mornings and evenings and you’ll fog up easily.


(15)  Call your insurance and get your coverages reinstated.  I called Progressive and had them end the Winter Layup period and put my bike back on full coverage.


If you found any issues from the checks above, refer to your Motorcycle Owner’s Manual and the internet for advice on addressing it.  Understand your capabilities and if it may be beyond them, reach out for help.  There are very knowledgeable folks on local motorcycle forums who can assist, and give second opinions.  Finally do take the bike in to a reputable repair shop if there are issues found that are beyond easy repair or require specialized equipment.

Otherwise, most of us will breeze through the above 15 steps, and with that golden orb still high in the sky, it’s time to gear up and take the bike out for a Sunday cruise!



Watch for winter gravel still in the corners and cagers that aren’t used to seeing bikes yet, and have a fun and safe Spring riding season!  -Matt

-See also:  6 Simple Steps to Winterize Your Bike