"Advance preparation for the Cycle tour, especially the tour of some distance, is far preferable to disappointment and difficulty on the road later. 'Forewarned is forearmed' is a legendary saying that may be applied with particular force to the Cross Country Tour."
H.C. (Hap) Scherer, Transcontinentalist reporting in the April 1920 edition of The Enthusiast® magazine
What was true more than 80 years ago is true today. Roads and motorcycles are a lot different from those in the 1920s. But the need for proper maintenance and preparation is just as important as ever, especially before a long trip. The quality of the time we spend on the road often depends on what we do in the garage.
A quick, pre-ride routine will keep your Harley® ready and your mind at peace:
- Before riding your motorcycle at any time, do a general inspection of the entire bike to be sure it's in safe riding condition.
- You can start by checking the oil and filter and inspect other fluid levels. Harley-Davidson® motorcycles are made to make oil changes easy. If you do it yourself, don't slack off on the maintenance schedule. And make sure the old oil is properly disposed. It should be sealed in an approved container and taken to a legitimate oil disposal facility.
- Next you'll want to check the controls to be sure they operate properly. On your list of controls to inspect should be the front and rear brakes, throttle, clutch and shifter. You should also examine the steering for smoothness by turning the handlebars through the full operating range.
- Check tire pressure often, daily when you are touring, and always using a good gauge. Consult your owners' manual for correct pressure and load rating. Air pressure can change with the air temperature. While you're at it, inspect the tires. Replace them if there's less than 50 percent of the tread left, or if there's any cracks, cuts or signs of distress. Tires should be changed by your dealer. They are expertly trained to replace tires and to inspect your wheels.
- Check for any fuel, oil or hydraulic fluid leaks. Give the cases and lines a once over to make sure there are no leaks.
- For high-mileage bikes, inspect the drive belt, sprockets and brakes.
- Check your headlights, directionals, tail light and brake light every time you ride. Not only do they help you see where you're going, but they are your best way of being seen by others. If a light is out, it is easy to change yourself. Consult your owners' manual and/or service manual for correct type and removal and replacement procedure. If replacing a headlight, be certain the beam is focused properly.
- Before you start riding, sit on your bike and take a look in the mirrors to be sure they're adjusted properly. Even if you don't think you've moved the mirrors, do a quick check just to be sure.
- You can double the life of your battery by checking and correcting its water level regularly. It's as easy as looking at it with a flashlight for most models. In warm weather climates, check the water level on a regular basis. Otherwise, every 2,500 miles is a good guideline. For those who can't ride as often as they'd like, install a battery charger with a convenient disconnect. If you travel often, for instance, the charger will help you avoid a dead-battery homecoming.
- The Harley-Davidson Extended Service Plan™ prevents a breakdown from ruining a trip. If you ever get stranded on the road, you'll be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses* you pay while covered repairs are being made to your bike, including car rental costs and pick-up charges. Plus, if you're ever stuck overnight, your Harley-Davidson Extended Service Plan will even pick up the tab for your hotel and meals.*See contract for complete details.
Doing basic maintenance yourself can save you time and money in the long run, but don't venture into the land of do-it-yourself if it's not your natural habitat. The risks just aren't worth it. If you are the least bit unsure, go see the experts in their natural habitat: a Harley-Davidson dealership.