Nobody can deny that this winter has been a doozy! Even as March has arrived, it’s well below freezing and the snow cover is still measured in feet where I live. Thankfully, the sun is noticeably higher in the sky and the days are longer, which points to the inevitable spring thaw. This means that it’s almost time to ride! But, wait. Before you thumb the starter there are a few things you need to take a look at before your first ride of the season. The first step is to make sure your bike is ready to roll. Next up is the importance of getting your mental and physical skills in shape for the new season.
Here’s a quick list of pre-season maintenance tasks. I’m not going to go into detail about how to perform these duties, because that would be a very long post. Most of these things are covered in your owner’s manual. If you do not feel comfortable tackling these projects, find an experienced friend to help you with any of these jobs that you can’t do yourself.
Do these things:
Charge your battery
Check your air filter
Check your tire pressures and condition
Check your drive system
Change your oil and filter
Check your brake pads and fluid
Check your lights
Put a wrench to all fasteners
Wipe her down, Start her up!
After you’ve taken care of the motorcycle, then the next thing to give some attention to is your mental and physical skills. With all the anxious anticipation of the first ride of the season, it’s easy to forget that motorcycling is a challenging endeavor that requires you to be on top of your game. Starting your riding season without considering the consequences of rusty skills could end your season prematurely. If you’re like me, you’ve probably been spending the winter months getting around town behind the wheel of a car. This can cause you to forget that your survival instincts and riding “edge” are dulled. It’s easy to become oblivious to motorcycle issues like visibility or road surface hazards when you’ve been off the bike for a while. It’s likely that you haven’t been too concerned about being seen by others the way you are when riding your bike, because it’s easier for others to see you when you’re driving a 3-ton vehicle. Now is the time to get that mental radar fired up so you can deal with all the distracted and complacent drivers. Remember that drivers haven’t seen bikes on the road for several months or weeks and won’t be looking for you. Also, you probably haven’t been too concerned about road surface hazards, because most surface conditions are of little concern when you have four wheels beneath you. Get your road surface sensors sharpened before you roll out of your driveway.
Thawing Your Skills
Some riders begin their season by taking a refresher course with their local motorcycle-training program, which usually offer the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) suite of courses. Others take some time on their own to brush up on their emergency skills in a parking lot, but most simply take it easy until the cobwebs blow away. Whether you choose to attend a formal rider course or go it alone, I recommend that every rider practice critical skills by performing some cornering and braking drills. Skills are perishable, which means you have to keep practicing whenever you can. Not just at the beginning of the season! That’s why I include drills in my Riding in the Zone book and DVD. Subscribe to the mailing list!
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The Street Triple R has been getting the track day treatment with protection, top shelf suspension, and race tires. You can read about the track makeover HERE. But, since I’ll be riding the Striple both on the track and the street, I’m also adding some street goodies to help make it a bit more street-able. It’s a great street bike to begin with, but a few select accessories make the Street Triple R a nice road companion.
R&G Tail Tidy Fender Eliminator
The R&G Tail Tidy allows my bike to be ready for both track or street. The fender eliminator save a lot of weight and keeps the turn signals tucked in in case of a fall. Click the link below to view the Twisted Throttle product page for the Tail Tidy.
The Triple R came with a Sargent seat as well as the stock seat. The Sargent is very firm, like I know Corbins to be. The shape is much flatter than the stock two-toned seat, which unlike the stocker, keeps my gentlemen from getting “tanked” when braking. The Sargent isn’t perfect. The forward edges are a bit sharp and it kinda keeps me on a single position. The Sargent makes most sense on the highway where I am angled forward into the wind, which scoots my butt back into the “pocket”of the seat’s shape. On the track, I found the Sargent to be too restrictive when hanging off the bike all the way. This is where the stock seat is superior with a crowned shape that allows for easy side-to-side movements. It’s really easy to change the seats, so I’ll use both for their respective purposes.
Lord of the Tankring
I’ve used the SW-MOTECH/Bags-Connection Quick-lock tankbags for a while now. The bags are very nice, but the real advantage of these bags is the tankring mounting system. The bag clicks on and off the tank so easily that I will never go back to straps or magnet tankbags. The heart of the system is the tankring that mounts tot he gas filler ring around the gas cap and the mating ring screwed on the bottom of the tankbag. With this tankring, I can switch my Bags-Connection Sport tankbag on both of my bikes; the Sprint RS and the Striple within only a few seconds.
Lord of the Flyscreen
Naked bikes are, well, naked. As as such, expose the rider to a wall of wind. This isn’t bad for most street riding situation, but once it gets chilly and you hit the highway, that wind blast becomes a bit much. I knew the Triumph OEM flyscreen would not give a heck of a lot of protection, and it doesn’t. But, I hope that it will give me a place to tuck when I’m flying down the racetrack at over 100 mph. We shall see when I head to Barber at the end of November. Update: I added the Sport version of the MRA X-creen from my street bike (Sprint RS) just before leaving for Barberrrrr…it worked great. From twistedthrottle.com
I’m installed a RAM ball to the Triple’s handlebar mount so I can have my phone within sight distance for those times I use my iPhone’s GPS function. The phone itself will be attached using the spring-loaded RAM X-Grip device. It’s proven to be a secure mount during off road adventures with the guys and gals at Twisted Throttle. I mounted the RAM ball on the forward right handlebar mount so that the phone would not block the more pertinent information on the LCD screen (speedo, time, etc.) As it sits, it is tucked close to the master cylinder and only blocks the tach past 14,000 rpm. Not a problem on the street. The RAM GoPro ball makes mounting the camera a breeze. No need for sticking mounts on the bodywork. Just be sure to tether the camera housing to the handlebars in case things get loose. I can listen to the GPS navigation through my Interphone Bluetooth Intercom. I also listen to music when I feel like it. This is the system I use when I do one-on-one instruction on the track and on the street when I travel with my family.