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Rev Your Engines: Get Your Harley-Davidson Season-Ready with This Comprehensive Checklist!

Get Your Motorcycle Ready for Summer: A Comprehensive Checklist

After months of motorcycle deprivation, you are eager to hit the open road and head to Laconia Motorcycle Week. But before you do, you need to ensure that your Harley-Davidson is in good condition for a safe ride. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) recommends a comprehensive inspection of your bike's systems to ensure a safe ride and season ahead. Dubbed T-CLOCS, the procedure covers your bike’s Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis, and Stands, and more. Here's a quick-reference checklist for your toolbox or garage.

Tires, Wheels and Brakes 

Inspect your tire tread for wear, and look for cracks, bulges, dry-rot, and excessive hardening, which are signs that your bike’s tires are too old. Be mindful of flat spots as well. If your rubber looks good, check the air pressure. Elevate your wheels and look for bent, broken, or missing spokes if you have spoked wheels. If you have cast rims, look for dings, dents, or cracks. Spin each wheel and look for wobble. Feel for excessive resistance or crunchiness, and investigate the bearing seals for tears, rips, or cuts. Compare the thickness of your brake pads to the spec in your service manual, and replace them sooner than absolutely necessary. Engage each brake individually with the corresponding wheel in motion, making sure each one contributes to the stopping power of your Harley-Davidson Motorcycle.

Battery Charge

Make sure your motorcycle has a good full charge using your Harley-Davidson Battery Tender (hint hint).  Some folks believe that starting their bike and letting it run for 15 minutes is enough to charge the battery  That is unfortunately false and does more harm to the battery than good.  Starting your bike and letting it run does not actually charge the battery.  Either put it on a Harley-Davidson Smart Battery Tender for 48 hours or start your Harley-Davidson up and go for a good 20 minute ride.  Whatever you do, don't start your motorcycle up and rev the engine to "charge it."  Trust us, you will be buying a new battery sooner than you think.  


Check that your handlebars are straight, turn freely, and the bar ends are secure. Your levers should be well-adjusted and tightly mounted, and lubricate any clutch, brake, or throttle cables. Check for frayed ends and kinks along the entire length of each cable. Make sure all cables are routed properly and free from interference at the steering head and suspension, avoid sharp angles, and have all wire supports in place. If you have hydraulic clutch and brake systems, make sure the lines don’t have cuts, cracks, or leaks. Check for smooth operation of the motorcycle's throttle, and ensure it decisively snaps closed on its own.


Check all lights, including headlights, turn signals, brake lights, and taillights, and make sure they're working correctly.


Check your oil level, and change it if necessary. Look for leaks around the engine, transmission, and primary cases.

Chassis and Stands 

Inspect your frame and bodywork for damage or cracks. Check for any loose or missing bolts, nuts, or cotter pins. Test your suspension by bouncing up and down on the seat, and check the steering head bearings for looseness or notchiness. Test your side stand and center stand for stability and proper function.


Your helmet is a critical piece of safety equipment when riding a motorcycle. It's the first line of defense in the event of an accident, and it could save your life. But like all protective gear, your helmet can lose its effectiveness over time, and it's essential to inspect it regularly to ensure it's still doing its job.

One common reason for a helmet to lose its structural integrity is from an impact. Even a seemingly minor bump or drop can cause unseen damage to the helmet's inner shell, which can compromise its ability to protect you in a more severe accident. That's why it's crucial to inspect your helmet after any incident, no matter how minor it may seem.

But even if you've never had an accident, your helmet can still degrade over time. The materials used to construct your helmet can break down from exposure to heat, moisture, and UV rays. As a result, helmet manufacturers typically recommend replacing your helmet every five years, even if it has never been involved in an accident. It's important to take this advice seriously, as an old helmet may not be able to protect you adequately in the event of an accident.

Another essential consideration is how you store your helmet. If you leave it in your garage or another unheated area, it may be exposed to significant temperature swings, which can also affect its structural integrity. Ideally, you should store your helmet in your house, where it's protected from extreme temperatures and other environmental factors that can cause damage.

By following this checklist, you can ensure that your motorcycle is in excellent condition for a safe and enjoyable ride. Got additional questions, reach out to us at the Wilkins Service Department!  We are always happy to help.