Prep for Spring ADV Riding | 13 Tips for Man and Machine

Preparing for Spring ADV Riding

This winter was long for many riders – especially those east of the Mississippi. Many spent the non-rideable months planning their dream ADV treks, whether a large tour across Africa or a smaller section of a Backcountry Discovery Route.

For the wrenchers, many also spent endless cold nights in their garages, prepping their bikes with the latest accessories to make these trips easier and more comfortable, the latter helping to increase safety.

Before that first ride of the season, though, much more needs to be done from both a motorcycle and mental perspective. Mistakes are easy to make when we’re antsy for that first ride. Let’s help put an end to them with our Prep for Spring ADV Riding tips.




Prep for Spring ADV Riding: Bike First

Let’s start with the bike, and all the vital elements that can prevent not only breakdowns, but crashes.


Before anything, check for varmints, such as those pesky mice that love to reside in air cleaner boxes or exhaust cavities. A mouse can become small – if you can fit a #2 pencil into something, a mouse can fit too. And when they are looking for dark habitats to live in, exhaust pipes and air boxes are all the rave. One spring we found a few cups of dog food covering our air filter, along with loads of mouse poop. Luckily we checked. This taught us to take some preventative measures before putting the bike to sleep – block the exhaust and air intake entrances with rags or steel wool – mice can’t eat through the latter. A good motorcycle cover will work wonders too!




Next is to go through the fluids. Hopefully you changed the oil and added gas stabilizer (or completely emptied the tank and gas lines) before motorcycle storage. If not, change that oil and get some fresh gas in there. Also, check all lines that carry any type of fluid (gas, oil, coolant, brake and clutch fluids) to make sure you have no leakage. While searching, also check for any loose wiring – which brings us to the next tip.




Battery and Electrical

Shame on those not using a battery tender. Not using one dramatically reduces the life of a battery, and causes for frustration in the spring when riding season begins. Make sure your battery is up to spec on voltage, and also check for busted fuses (have extra ones for the road!) and any faulty bulbs.




We don’t lie – our bikes’ suspension takes quite a beating during the riding season. Sometimes all that fun can cause some issues. Check for excessive play both front and rear, and also any deterioration of any bushings. Also give your forks a few good plunges and check for leaks. Sometimes the leaks are simply tiny dirt or sand particles that cause the seal barrier to open. To prevent this, make cleaning around fork seals (Sealmate – cheap and works wonders!) part of your pre-storage ritual.





Make sure your chain is cleaned and properly lubed before any riding. We are fanatics about clean chains!


Thoroughly inspect your ADV motorcycle tires for cracks or any punctures, including ones we always seem to find – nails. Next, which should be part of every pre-ride ritual, check the tire pressure.

Let that Engine Idle

Next, start up your bike and let the engine get to operation temperature. Give the bike another once over, looking for leaks or any loose bolts. Now’s also a great time to make sure your gauge is set up correctly, including time and suspension settings. Sometimes last seasons settings mysteriously disappear.


Prep For Spring ADV Riding: Consider Some Human Prep

The bike is set, but let’s not forget about you. Much downtime from riding sometimes makes us crazy. Let us rephrase – zero riding always makes us crazy. Just like our bikes, proper preparation can prevent many stupid mistakes.


Let’s cover the stuff we all hate talking about – legal stuff that allows us to ride. Are your tags and inspection up to date? And also, is your bike insured?



Helmet Check

Is yours still within manufacturer’s safety window, which is typically five years since the date stamped inside under the interior? Tests have shown that helmet safety decreases with time, so make sure you check your helmet expiration date through the manufacturer.





A Quickie First

Even the most disciplined and well-traveled riders in the world start small first to mentally get back into the groove, whether it’s a short ride the local wine store or a quick jaunt off road. This helps psychologically prep you – the ride, that is, not the wine (though the wine does help, when you’re not riding, of course).




Changing Road Conditions

Due to winter maintenance, the roads will change. For those of us outside of SoCal, keep an eye out for gravel, sand and salt remains from winter road maintenance. Also expect new potholes, and beware of one’s covered in water. Those holes can be deeper than they appear, and cause some serious damage.


Spring is not only the time for rebirth of trees and flowers, but also many animals that come out of hibernation and are seeking food. Keep an eye out for increased animal activity near roads or trails – especially at dusk, the prime time for animals to get their eat on.

Finally…Open up Some Space

Remember, caged drivers have not witnessed many motorcyclists for some months now, and they can psychologically block you out. For spring especially, open up additional space between your motorcycle and the vehicle ahead of you – give yourself a 5-8 second following distance time. This will allow you plenty of time to emergency brake or swerve.

 Also maintain 360-degrees of visibility, which is aided by checking those rearview mirrors often – try every 10 seconds or so to know what’s behind your motorcycle.

 Follow these tips above to start off the spring riding season in the best possible condition – for both you and your motorcycle.