Opinion: Brighter days

Rodent weather prognosticators Wiarton Willie and Shubenacadie Sam may not have been in agreement on how much longer this winter will last, but we’re closer to the end of it than the beginning. There will no doubt be a few big storms yet, but the days are slowly getting longer which provides some much-needed hope that spring may indeed be waiting around the corner.

The temperature jumped into the high single digits this week which got me even more excited for the pending riding season. I used the opportunity to check on my bikes and see how they are managing their long winter hibernation. In addition to checking tire pressures and various fluids, brake rotors and battery charge, peeling off the covers confirmed that small animals hadn’t used the opportunity to build a nest. More comprehensive maintenance will be completed closer to the first ride, but I wanted to get ahead of the game so there aren’t any surprises.

The pandemic has created unforeseen shortages in everything from toilet paper to baking flour, so it should come as no surprise that the availability of motorcycle parts has been affected. Calling my local bike shop, they said they couldn’t guarantee delivery timing of anything they didn’t already have in stock. I put my order in for a new set of rubber for the Maxim 750 in hopes she’ll finally be ready to ride after more than a decade of neglect.

While we’re on the topic, tires are often overlooked and frequently underappreciated. Adequate tread depth is important, but so is rubber condition. Mileage should be a consideration but so should age, as compounds can dry out and harden over time. Not only can this result in a loss of grip, but it can also cause the tire in question to come apart. We’re talking 10+ years-old here, so don’t think you need to replace your tires every season regardless of mileage. Tire manufacturers include the date of production on the sidewall, so take a look next time you’re checking air pressure.

In addition to the various restrictions and supply chain issues, many business are dealing with staff shortages too. Given the inventory and personnel challenges, business hours have been shortened which will also very likely impact the turnaround time needed to get your bike repaired or prepared for the upcoming season.

Spring may still be a way off yet, but it’s not a bad idea to get started early and give shops time to order parts and ramp up staff. It will also provide them with some much-needed financial support during the off season.


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