Summer Start Up

The warmer it gets, the more we want to ride. As tempting as it may be to pull the bike out from under its dusty cover and hit the road, there are a few things we need to do first. When we make sure everything is working as it should on our motorcycles, we aren’t just staying safe, we’re keeping our motorcycles in mint condition and ensuring we can ride it for years to come.

Here’s a 10-point inspection you can administer in the comfort of your garage. If you run into any issues, it’s in your best interest to take the bike to a mechanic for a second opinion. Also, SDRides Motorcycle Maintenance Series can help you prepare for the summer season.


Over the fall and winter months, the gas in your tank can degrade. It can take as little as 30 days for un-stabilized gas to start going bad. Check to see what your fuel level is and ask yourself these questions: is the gas still good to run through the bike, or do you need to drain the fuel and start from scratch?

Pro tip: After your last ride of the season, fill your tank to about 90% capacity and add in some fuel stabilizer.


This is the perfect time of year to change the oil in your bike. Oil has many responsibilities: cooling the clutch, lubricating the gear box, protecting the engine and reducing friction. If you have to do it at least once a year anyway, why not do it now?


You can’t go riding without two tires on your bike. Inspect your tires for cracks, dry rot and worn tread to determine if it’s time to get them replaced. Next, you need to check your tire pressure. Without the correct tire pressure, you can risk your tire’s cutting, an uncontrollable wobble and tire slips.

Pro tip: Check your tire pressure twice a week. It should always be within 1 psi of the manufacturer’s instructions.


If “eat, sleep, ride, repeat” is your motto, you’re going to need some trusty brakes. Look closely for any damage on the brake pads—front and back—and lines before a ride. If you see any excessive wear or hear some squealing and scraping, replace ‘em!


Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the bike. It’ important to take a deeper look at the steering mechanisms, throttle and clutch. You’ll also want to check control cables and hoses on your bike to see if they are working properly.

Pro tip: This can be a bit of a tricky task. To make it easier, watch this video we made: Motorcycle Maintenance: T-CLOCS Inspection.


It’s easy to forget about the maintenance your gear needs, too. Manufacturers often recommend replacing your helmet every five years, even if it looks as good as it did the day you bought it. Also, do all your leathers, your boots and your gloves still fit the way they should? If they don’t, it’s time to go shopping.


If your bike is having a hard time revving up this summer, chances are your battery is on the fritz. Your battery may be dead or may need to be replaced. Be certain both terminals are clean and cables are securely connected if all your bike needs is a charge.

Pro tip: Use a trickle charger over the months you aren’t riding to keep your battery running smoothly.


Your lights are what keep you safe from other drivers. Check if both your brake lights and your turn signals work. While you’re at it, give your horn a couple honks and test out your handy-dandy flashers.


What if you went through all the trouble of fixing up your bike to get pulled over for expired plates? No thank you! Ensure that your registration, insurance and license are updated and accessible. Spending money on the bike is much better than spending money on fines.

Pro tip: Instead of wasting your day at the DMV, use a self-service kiosk to get to riding in as little as two minutes!


Winter is South Dakota’s way of telling you to clean up your bike. You’ll want to give your bike a good examination to find any rust. If pieces or mechanisms on our bike are rusted, you may need to replace some parts.

That’s it! All that’s left is a bath to spiff it up and some wax to make it shine. Enjoy your summer riding—and make sure to ride sober, wear gear and follow speed limits.

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