If you’re a motorcycle rider, there’s nothing like the first warm spring day to help you shake off the sorrow of watching your favorite possession wasting away all winter. But before you crank it up and point it into the wind, make sure to take a few precautions. Motorcycle riding in early spring is often an eye-opener – the weather’s chilly, the roads might be slick from patches of melting snow and ice and the sky can open any time.

Whether or not you’re new to motorcycle riding, take the time to make sure you and your bike are ready for that first spring ride.

Here are motorcycle riding tricks that work every time.

Check it and clean it

Give your bike and your gear a good inspection and cleaning – even a covered or garage-kept bike can get grimy during the winter, especially if your bike was parked outside. Wipe it down with a clean, soft rag, then give it a bath and a polish. A new coat of wax will add some protection against spring road dirt, water and debris. Shake the dust off your gear and accessories and if you wear a helmet, clean off the visor and check the straps. 

  • Check the tires for pressure or winter rot.
  • Test the battery and terminals.
  • Check for fluid leaks.
  • Fire up the engine, check the throttle and let it run for a few minutes.
  • Check the controls and brakes for response.
  • Make sure all the lights are working and clean them and the mirrors.
  • Check the fuel and oil levels and change the oil filter.

Layer it on

The thermometer might look impressive, but once you come to speed in that spring wind, it’s going to feel like November unless you’re protected. Adding a layer or two of insulating clothing underneath your outer gear might just make the difference between a sweet first ride and a miserable mistake. Go for quality, not bulk, using synthetic fleece or one heated layer. Don’t forget to wear winter (heated) gloves, boots and a scarf.

Ride ready for the weather

Spring weather is unpredictable, so be aware of it and the roads. Even if the sun is shining, a sudden shower might have hit in the area where you’re riding. Roads are always slickest after a brief rain. Dirty standing water can also be hiding dangerous potholes beneath the surface, so be alert for puddles. Taking along some lightweight rain gear can’t hurt either – just in case that spring shower falls on you.

Be defensive

Old timers know that the only way to drive safely on a motorcycle is to drive defensively. Most motorcycle collisions are caused by other drivers who say they didn’t see the motorcycle, so make yourself and your ride as visible as possible. Wearing something brightly colored might make you more noticeable. Always use your headlight(s) and never drive in the blind spots of other vehicles.

Eyes on the road

Winter’s freezing temperatures, snow, ice, plowing, and salting wreak havoc on road surfaces. Unfortunately, with spring comes potholes, cracks and loose gravel. If you can’t avoid such an obstacle, don’t jam on the brakes or swerve to avoid it – either move is sure to damage either you, the bike or both. Slow down as much as possible so you don’t lose control or damage the tires or wheels.

Motorcycle riding in the spring is one of the best ways to put Old Man Winter behind you . The trick is to keep the rubber on the road by using the head on your shoulders.