Nothing feels sweeter than hopping on your motorcycle for the first ride of the season. But your bike might need some attention if it’s been a few months since your last jaunt on the road. Now is a great time to invest in your motorcycle and subsequent riding gear so you can start the season off on the right foot. Use this guide to make your first trip as memorable as possible.
Motorcycle Maintenance and Inspection
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends doing a full T-CLOCS inspection before hitting the road after a long winter. It includes a checklist for inspecting the various parts and components of your motorcycle, including the tires, brakes, wheels, handlebars and electrical inputs that control your lights. You should also check the c-chassis, including the frame, suspension and belts, as well as your oil, coolant and fuel levels.
Consider changing the fuel and air filters in your motorcycle to improve performance and fuel efficiency. Visually inspect all aspects of the bike for damage or rust. Take your bike to your local mechanic for a check-up if you don’t feel comfortable inspecting the bike or completing the necessary repairs.
Break Out Your Riding Gear
Every rider needs the proper gear. You should assemble everything you need to wear before your first ride, including gloves, full-face helmet or a half-face helmet with goggles, boots, pants and a riding jacket. Use the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Personal Protective Gear checklist to get ready for the trip. You might need to do some digging to find these items if you put them in storage for the winter. You don’t want to keep your buddies waiting while you rummage around in the garage. Keep these essentials handy so you’re never tempted to ride without the proper safety gear.
Inspect your riding gear for signs of wear and tear, including holes or worn spots that could leave you exposed to the elements. Give yourself time to order a new pair of pants or gloves before the big day arrives. Consider washing your clothes or cleaning your riding gear ahead of time to make the right impression on your first outing.
If you plan on riding in a group or like to listen to music while you ride, use a motorcycle Bluetooth headset that wirelessly connects to your phone or mobile device. The system lets you use your voice to remotely interact with your device so you can keep your eyes on the road. You can also call your loved ones, check the route on your GPS or dial 911 in an emergency without having to physically reach for your device.
Consider using motorcycle communication with dynamic mesh communication (DMC) to stay connected to your companions on the road. Unlike traditional Bluetooth, DMC creates a direct link between you and every other rider in your group. This makes it easy to stay in sync as you navigate twists and turns and merge with traffic. You don’t have to reset the signal if one of your companions falls out of range.
Once you have this equipment, test it out by connecting to your mobile device. Encourage your fellow riders to invest in similar technology so you can keep in touch on the road. You can queue up an awesome playlist or find your route on the GPS to make the most of your trip.
Preparing for Your First Trip
As the date gets closer, check the weather for your route and consider rescheduling if necessary. It may be spring, but there’s still a chance the roads could ice over.
Check to make sure your gear and motorcycle comply with local riding laws. Research the latest requirements and double-check your equipment just to be safe. You should also have your driver’s license and proof of insurance on hand in case you get into an accident.
If you’re riding in a group, choose a meet-up location and make sure everyone agrees on the itinerary. You may need to stop and pull over from time to time. Encourage everyone to bring their Bluetooth motorcycle helmet speakers so you can coordinate with each other in real-time.
Bring along a motorcycle repair kit in case your bike runs into trouble along the way. You should also have a plan for getting home in case you get stuck. Research local repair shops and gas stations in the area to get a lay of the land.
Unless your bike has been inspected by a professional, you may want to ease into riding. Avoid taking a long road trip until you are absolutely sure your bike can handle the trip. Hopefully, you still remember how to ride a motorcycle, but you might be a little rusty. Start off the season with shorter trips without straying too far from home until you build up enough confidence in your riding abilities.
Riding season is right around the corner. Start preparing for your first trip before spring arrives.