FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 11, 2019) - If you put your bike in storage for the winter, hopefully you followed the guidance found in your motorcycle owner's manual (MOM). If so, your prep time to get your motorcycle road ready will be relatively short, once again following the procedures in your MOM. If you just parked your motorcycle in the corner of your garage or shed, however, you'll have your work cut out for you. It will probably put a sizeable dent in your wallet too!

For those riders who followed the MOM, your job might be as easy as pulling off the cover, removing any plugs you installed to keep foreign matter out of the exhaust and any other openings, and washing it. Fill the gas tank, change the oil and check the tires for correct pressures and signs of dry rot. If you disconnected the battery, reconnect it following your MOM procedures. If you didn't put the battery on a trickle charger, you might have problems firing up your bike. Otherwise, it should be ready to ride.

Once your bike is set, it's time to check your personal protective equipment to make sure it still fits and is in serviceable condition. Those extra pounds you may have put on over the holidays could mean a trip to the bike shop to buy some new gear. This is also a great time to make sure you and your bike are properly licensed and insured. Some of you might have deregistered your motorcycle during the winter. If so, you'll have to go through the registration and insurance processes again. Do it early so you can get on the road as soon as the weather breaks.

Your bike and gear are now ready for the road, but what about you? After the winter break, your first trip shouldn't be from Fort Drum, New York, to Daytona, Florida, for Bike Week. If it's been more than a few months since your last ride, you might need refresher training. Contact your local safety office to schedule an advanced rider's course.

If your training is up to date, ease back into shape and knock the rust off your riding skills by practicing. The USACRC has refresher exercises available on the Motorcycle Riding Tips section of its PMV-2 webpage, located at https://safety.army.mil/OFF-DUTY/PMV-2-Motorcycles/Training. While you're there, download the Street Motorcycle Tips Booklet and review the exercises. The exercises are easy to set up, and performance measures for each are simple to interpret. We strongly recommend you practice with a riding buddy and peer coach one another.

When you begin riding in traffic again, remember lane position is important when you're on the road. Always position yourself in the lane of travel so you can be seen at the greatest distance possible. You'll also need to be more diligent with your scanning technique and pay particular attention to the road surface so you can spot any cracks or potholes that developed over the winter. Those of you stationed in colder climates are probably familiar with the pothole that bottoms out your suspension, rattles your eye teeth and leaves you wondering if you damaged your rims.

Properly preparing your motorcycle, gear and training is the key to safe and enjoyable riding season. For more information about bringing your motorcycle out of winter storage, visit http://www.rider.com/motorcycle_community/tips/tips-for-bringing-motorcycle-out-of-storage.html and https://www.thoughtco.com/getting-your-bike-road-worthy-2399736. Live to ride and ride safe!

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