Spring safety checklist for motorcyclists

Spring comes later to New England than it does to many other regions of the country. That’s one reason why motorcycle enthusiasts are usually chomping at the bit to get in that first spring ride.

But don’t put the cart before the horse. Before setting out on your first ride on Connecticut’s roads, make sure that your bike is ready to take a safe ride.

Is your paperwork valid?

It’s quite likely that your motorcycle registration and/or insurance coverage lapsed over the winter months. Don’t give the cops a reason to give you a costly ticket. Verify that your motorcycle insurance and registration are updated and valid. Also, if you had any unpaid tickets that you overlooked last riding season, get those paid — and any warrants recalled for failure to appear in court.

Check the brakes and fluids

The last thing a motorcycle rider wants to discover on a ride is that the brakes on the bike seized up. Spongy brakes may fail to stop in a critical moment. Test your brakes first in a controlled ride around an empty parking lot or other safe riding space to make sure that your brakes are in good working order.

You also should check all fluid levels. If you forgot to add a fuel additive in your bike’s gas tank last autumn when you stored it for the winter months, your motorcycle’s fuel injectors might be clogged.

Drain your tank and fill it up with fresh gasoline after first cleaning the injectors and installing new fuel filters. You should also check the oil levels and may need to do an oil change before heading out for your first ride.

Recharge your battery

Some riders routinely remove their motorcycle batteries after the last ride of autumn and use trickle chargers or tenders on the batteries to keep them powered up. Those who don’t should ensure that the battery has a good charge to avoid getting stranded out on the road.

Do a tire inspection

Make sure that there is sufficient pressure in the tires, as under-inflated tires cause more wear-and-tire on your motorcycle and can lead to dangerous accidents. If your visual inspection reveals dry rot or other damage, it’s time to replace your tires.

Be wary of motorists

After a long winter season with few (if any) motorcycle riders on Connecticut roads, drivers become complacent because they haven’t seen (m)any riders on two wheels. Give them a chance to get used to seeing bikers out in force.

Make sure that your riding gear makes you as visible as possible on the highways. Stay out of motorists’ blind spots and leave room to take evasive action in the event a driver suddenly switches lanes.

If you wind up injured in a motorcycle accident this spring or summer, remember to take the steps to preserve your right to seek compensation from the at-fault driver.