The 2023 ADV riding season is here, and everyone is excited to hop back on their bikes and go for a ride.
You’ve been longing for the freeze to go away, passing the time by watching videos and maybe even buying some new kit (you know you’ve been long overdue for a new set of goggles…).
You’re ready to go and hit the trails, but what about your bike? Have you given it any love since the last riding season? It’s probably due for a little TLC, especially if it’s about to go back into service soon. If not, it’s nothing to worry about. Here, we offer eight simple tips to prep your ADV motorcycle for the 2023 season.
What do we mean by simple? It means that anyone with a basic set of tools and a little mechanical ability can accomplish these tasks pretty easily. These tips will likely seem easy for the veteran mechanics out there, but they are no less important to take care of before getting ready for the new season.
1. Give it a once over
Let’s start really simple. Look over the bike for any obvious issues needing repair. Are the grips shredded? Is anything bent? Are the lights still working? Are all the bolts tight? You know, simple stuff.
Check for anything glaringly out of the ordinary or broken, and fix those first. We can get so caught up in doing big repairs that we lose sight of any mechanical object's mundane maintenance items.
2. Change the oil
Keeping with the obvious and simple items, give your adventure motorcycle some fresh oil by performing an oil change—and don’t forget a new filter, too. The lifeblood of your engine, oil can see some abuse during hard ADV riding.
Regular oil changes following your manufacturer’s suggested intervals are a good starting point, but extreme riding in hot or punishing conditions might warrant the need for more frequent oil changes. When in doubt, go ahead and put in fresh oil. It’s much cheaper than an engine repair.
3. Check (and replace) fluids
Changing your oil is important, but don’t neglect the other fluids in your motorcycle. Is your coolant old and dirty? What about your brake fluid? If you have a hydraulic clutch, how does its fluid look?
If any of those are brown, it’s time for a thorough flush and refill. And don’t forget to bleed all three systems. You don’t want any air bubbles.
What if you check all three, and none of them are brown? This is a good sign but not necessarily indicative of a healthy brake, clutch, or cooling system. If your brake lever feels spongy, or you don’t remember the last time you changed your brake fluid, it’s not a bad idea to replace it.
If the clutch isn’t engaging smoothly or its fluid hasn’t been changed recently, go ahead and do it. Same with coolant. It might look fine, but even coolant needs a flush eventually.
If you have a cable-actuated clutch then fluid changes don’t apply to you. In this case, check that the clutch pull feels smooth. If not, it’s probably time to add some lubrication to your clutch cable.
A whole season of riding can introduce a lot of dirt and grime to your clutch cable. A good spray of lube will help it along—and don’t wait to do it at the start of each riding season! Add some periodically, if needed.
Lastly, don’t forget your suspension fluid. This one’s easy to forget since you can’t see it, but hard not to notice once it’s too late. Your fork and shock need servicing periodically, including replacing the fluid inside (among other things).
If your fork and shock don’t respond well (or at all) to any setting changes you make to the adjusters, or if the bike feels like it’s compressing or rebounding too fast regardless of adjustments, that could be a sign your fluid needs replacing. If you don’t know the last time your suspension has been serviced, now’s the time.
4. Take care of the consumables
Maintenance involves more than just changing the oil and replacing fluids; there’s other upkeep too. Check your brake pads and replace them as needed. The same goes for your chain and sprockets, assuming your bike has them.
Make sure your chain slack is correct, the chain is in good condition, and the sprockets don’t have any rounded teeth. If all is well, a nice cleaning and lubrication is fine.
If any of those pieces require replacement, then replace the chain and sprockets as a set. If your bike has a shaft drive, then relax; none of this applies to you.
Another important maintenance item is the air filter. After a full season (or more), your air filter is likely filled with gunk and is nasty. If it can be cleaned, go ahead and give it a good wash and reinstall. If not, replace it with a new one if it’s dirty.
5. Check your electrical components
This one may not be as obvious, but double-check that all your electrical components are in proper operating form.
By that, we mean confirming all electrical connections are tight and secure, fuses are good, and any questionable wires or connections are wrapped in electrical tape and/or soldered.
Taking care of this now could save you a giant headache when you’re out in the middle of nowhere.
6. Check your bars
It sounds silly, but give the bars another glance. Maybe your riding style has changed, and you’d like to move the bars to accommodate. Maybe they’re bent and need fixing.
In keeping with our maintenance theme, maybe the bars don’t turn from side to side like they used to and require a thorough clean and fresh grease (yes, technically, we’re talking about cleaning and lubricating the steering stem and its bearings, not the bars, but you get the point).
Don’t underestimate how much dirt and debris can get into the smallest crevices of your motorcycle.
7. Check your levers
This is more like point 6.5 rather than 7, but who’s counting? The point is, like your bars, your levers are worth a glance, too.
We already mentioned cleaning and lubricating cables, but you might need to reposition a lever or replace it entirely if you’d like a different feel or have a damaged bar.
8. Change your tires and check your wheels
We’ve saved another obvious one for last. Before blasting away for the new riding season, it might make good sense to replace your ADV tires—assuming your current set needs replacing.
Making sure the rest of your motorcycle is in good shape only to neglect the tires doesn’t make much sense, does it? Put on fresh rubber and enjoy the trails this season.
With a little bit of elbow grease, you can make sure your adventure motorcycle is ready to rock for the 2023 riding season.
And these points are just the tip of the iceberg; you can certainly do more to the motorcycle, and yourself, to make sure your first ride of the season is a good one. But working on your bike gives you an intimate connection with it, just in case something happens on a ride.
But since you took care of it at home, that won’t happen. Right?
Photos courtesy of @Sleipnir_ADV