When spring arrives, we want to get out, hit and road and feel the wind as we travel. While adventure is likely on your mind this time of year, it’s important to be practical. We need to check our bikes for things like pests and old fluids, as well as brush up on our riding skills.

After you perform a motorcycle tune-up, what’s next? As you get ready for the first few rides of the season, think about the following points.

1. Have the Right Gear

riding on a sunny dayYou can never be too careful, even when circling the block to get back in the swing of things. Prepare for uneven pavement, potholes, accidents and unpredictable weather with the right riding gear:

  • Have your motorcycle jacket, pants and boots ready to wear, rather than jeans and a T-shirt.
  • Spring brings rain showers, so have your waterproof gear on-hand in case you’re caught in a storm.
  • Don’t forget your cold weather gear for chilly spring evenings. Extra insulation is essential when you’re riding through cool temperatures and windy conditions.
  • Will you be riding at dusk or past sundown? Have a clear visor, balaclava and glove liners to combat the chill.

2. Take Things Slow

We’re all looking forward to lengthy trips through back roads and down the coast, but these rides shouldn’t be on your radar yet. Now is the time to remember how it feels to ride and get your skills back up to speed. What can you do?

  • Circle the block a few times and be sure to stay local.
  • Understand your reaction time could be a bit slower in the beginning.
  • Go around corners slowly, as you remember how to shift the weight of the bike into the curve.
  • Stick to familiar roads and routes but understand there could be winter damage, like potholes.
  • Travel the speed limit or slower, as other motorists may not be expecting to see motorcycles and could pull out in front of you.
  • Always follow the rules of the road and drive defensively.

3. Think About Mechanical Issues

After the tires have been inspected and the fluids changed, your bike could still experience mechanical issues. Aside from staying on familiar routes close to home, anticipate any potential breakdowns and have a cell phone on-hand. Plan who to call for help in the event of a breakdown.

4. Be On the Lookout

It can take some time for towns to clear away winter debris and repave roads. As such, while snow and ice are melted, it’s not smooth riding ahead. Rather, keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Leftover sand, salt and gravel, used to melt ice and create traction for cars.
  • Patches of ice and ice melt, which still may be frozen and slippery in darker areas.
  • Corners and intersections, which can have poor traction until repairs are made.
  • Potholes, which are a major accident waiting to happen for motorcyclists. Look ahead and drive around these divots in the road.
  • Pavement can become uneven in the winter months through a combination of snowmelt, rain and erosion. Along the edges of the road, you may find crumbling asphalt is more pronounced.
  • Streams of water. In New England, it can snow one day and be unseasonably warm the next. In terms of riding conditions, snow melt or a burst pipe might create a stream of water traveling across the road; take care as you cross it.
  • Motorists who aren’t expecting to see a motorcycle. Put more distance between yourself and other vehicles, so you have time to anticipate their driving maneuvers.

Have you planned your first motorcycle trip of the season? Share how you prepare for spring riding on our Facebook page.