Tip & How-To about Motorcycles

Motorcycles - What to do if bike has been sitting for extended period of time.

Man, I just got one heck of a deal on this bike... it's been sitting for quite some time... it's starts up but won't stay running. Sound familiar?

Most riders won't prepare their bike for sitting through the winter or if it's going to sit for a long time. Change all fluids, Oil, Anti-Freeze (if water cooled), Brake / Clutch fluid (if it is time), and Gear Oil (again, if it is time). Check spark plugs and clean / replace as necessary and add Sta-bil to the fuel tank (also add 1/4 ounce of Carb Cleaner or Injector Cleaner - depending on your fuel delivery system - and run the bike for 3 to 5 minutes). Check / replace the Air Filter. I, personally, take one plug out of each cylinder and pour 1/4 ounce of lightweight motor oil (10W-30) into the cylinder and then replace the plug. For heaven's sake... COVER the bike - even if all you have is a sheet.

Let's face it, some people are just plain lazy while others are not able to do the maintenance or can't afford it.

When you buy a used bike that has been sitting for a long period of time, it's always a good idea to ask the owner if they have preformed any, or all, of the above procedures. If not, you are in for a lot of maintenance work.

Whatever you do, do not try to start the bike - this will force all the gunk, from sitting gas, through the fuel system (especially if the fuel contains Ethanol - people, Ethanol is bad news... it causes valve deposits in your engine, gunk in the carb bowls and fuel tank, plus numerous other problems). Get a trailer, or ramps, and haul the bike home - unless the bike has been prepared to sit a long time. If none of the above procedures have been done, then do the following;

1. Drain any remaining fuel from the tank.
2. Take the carburetor bowls off the carbs and clean them.
3. If you don't want to take the carbs completely apart, get a spray can of B-12 carb cleaner and spray it into every open hole on the carb you can see. NOTE: cover any surface you don't want discolored / damaged before using the B-12.
4. Remove and change the fuel and air filter(s) if necessary.
5. Change the oil and filter.
6. Change the brake and clutch fluids (DOT 4).
7. Check the gear oil and change if dirty / gritty.
8. Buy a can of Sea Foam, fill your fuel tank with Premium gas (no Ethanol additive) and add the recommended amount of Sea Foam (and 1/4 ounce of B-12 (injector cleaner if Fuel Injected)) to a full tank of gas.
9. Check the battery voltage, and charge if necessary - do NOT fast charge your battery as this is not good for it - put a 1.5 / 2.0 amp trickle charger on it. Be patient, this will take some time to fully charge the battery. NOTE: Do NOT jump start your bike from your vehicle - you can cause damage to the electronic components on your bike.
10. Check the spark plugs and clean / replace as necessary.

NOTE: I didn't mention anything about the needles and seats because I believe that they should be checked by a qualified technician.

You can now start your bike. Be prepared for a bit of smoke from the tailpipe(s) due to the the bike sitting. The valve seals and rings should re-seat themselves within a day or two of riding (possibly sooner).

Make sure to check / change the fork oil if the bike has been sitting for longer than 6 to 8 months. One thing to keep in mind; If it looks dirty or gritty... drain and change it.

I know this is a lot of work, some will think it is not necessary, but it will save you from a major headache down the road. Also, your bike will love you for it. *grin*

One other thing I should mention is you need to check the carb(s) float(s) for correct operation. The float(s) can become heavy from fuel leaking into them. If they are heavy, buy new ones.

It would be a good idea to buy a service manual for your newly purchased bike. The manual will show you how to preform the recommended maintenance on your bike. It will show you how to preform necessary adjustments too.

There are many other things to check, such as the brake system, the condition of the wiring (hopefully mice haven't been chewing on the wires) and the condition of the tires. The above information is meant as a starting point. Look for the obvious problems and repair them immediately. Again... buy a Service Manual for your bike. I can't stress this enough.

I have been riding bikes since I was 12 years old and have always started or rode my bikes everyday - rain, sleet and snow - and have had no major issues. I am still riding my 1985 Honda Gold Wing Aspencade and my 1996 Suzuki VS800 Intruder, that I bought new, and have no problems.

I hope this tip helps out many of you and I wish you lots of luck with your bike purchase. Hopefully the previous owner cared enough about their bike that you won't have to go through all of the procedures listed above.

Regards,

Oz

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