If before all of this started, you prepped your bike to withstand the long period of disuse, you shouldn't have many problems getting back to riding after following a few simple steps that shouldn't take longer than five minutes. If that's not the case, get ready to get it up and running with this list of steps for getting your bike out of lockdown.
Phase 0: inspect the exterior of the bike
In phase 0 of taking our bike out of lockdown, the first thing we need to do is pay attention to the body of the bike.
If our bike has been sitting in the garage, this step is as simple as taking it outside and giving the exterior a quick glance, evaluating its state, and cleaning off any dust that's accumulated. If the bike has been sitting on the street, we will need to check that it hasn't been dented or scratched and isn't missing any pieces. On top of this, after so many days of exposure to the elements, it is important to inspect and see if any rusting has occurred or dirt has gathered in any important parts; and if so, we'll need to give those parts that have been exposed a good clean down. We should especially check parts under the bike, as well as the number plate. We don't want to be ticketed for a dirty plate!
Apart from getting the bike nice and clean again, this first step also ensures we don't scratch the bike with loose parts.
Phase 1: inspect the battery
In this first phase, we should check the battery before trying to start up the bike. If you were extra prudent and left the battery disconnected before the lockdown, the first thing you should do is check the battery's charge. If the charge is lower than 12.5V, it's very likely that the bike won't start, although you could try it anyway. We suggest that you charge the battery a bit before trying to start it, though, to avoid any major issues. If you left the battery hooked up to a battery maintainer, you can skip the charging and go right ahead with connecting it to the bike.
If on the other hand, you left the battery hooked up to the bike, it probably has lost its charge and you won't be able to start up safely, especially if it's older or if the weather has been cold. If that's the case, you should disconnect the battery and charge it.
Either way, remember that whenever you remove a battery, you must be very careful in how you handle it, since most batteries contain acid and are corrosive. Placing special emphasis on safety, you should first remove the negative terminal and then the positive one. When hooking up the battery, we do this reverse: first the positive, then the negative. It's very important that the terminals are clean and fit snugly and that the battery is charged in a well-ventilated area away from ignition sources.
Phase 2: check oil, coolant, and brake fluids
Once the battery is charged and ready to go, the next step will be to check the vehicle's fluid levels and the mechanical elements. Let's get to it!
Check oil, coolant, and brake fluid levels, as these can degrade both with use and with time. If it was already time for you to change these, this is probably an opportune moment to do it so that your bike in the best condition possible for getting back on the road.
Be sure to have a look at the tyres as well. If you've moved the bike regularly during this time, you may only need to give the tyres a little air, but if your bike has been sitting in the same position all this time, it's possible that the part of the tyre touching the ground has deformed, which may mean you need to replace it. If they are in good condition for riding, be extra cautious and remember to clean the entire surface of the tyre that will have contact with the asphalt. Dirt and dust that has accumulated can affect the traction of the tyres, and therefore our safety.
Don't forget to check the fuel level, of course. If you left the tank very low, make sure you get to a service station as soon as possible.
If you were unable to store your bike in the garage and it has a chain, it's important to also inspect its condition, as well as clean and grease it if necessary.
And as a last item for getting your bike ready in phase 2, we will proceed with inspecting the suspension and brakes. First, check for any hydraulic leaks and make sure the seals are not cracked in the fork. Secondly, inspect the brake discs, and of course, the wear on the brake pads.
Phase 3: starting up the bike
With the mechanics ready to go, now is the time to start up our bikes and check that the electrical system is in proper working order. Turn the key and start the engine. If it's fuel-injected, you should first turn the ignition for a few seconds so that the fuel pump primes the circuit. If everything is working properly, the bike should start, unless there is any other major problem that requires the help of a professional. If your bike has a carburettor, it may take a few seconds before the chamber of the carburettor fills. Try starting without accelerating because with too much gas, you could flood it. If the bike doesn't start, check to make sure there is no issue with dirt in the kickstand switch or the brake handle switch, since both can sometimes have issues after a period of disuse. Regardless, remember to be patient if this step takes a while!
If you were able to start it up, now is the time to make sure the lights and all the signals work properly. The lights should turn on right away and the light housings should be clean. Don't forget to check the horn and that all the information and elements on the instrument panel work correctly. And finally, make sure you have all your paperwork and any other equipment you need before taking off.
Remember, your bike has been sitting unused for a long time, so give it a moment to warm up. Go slowly at first, making sure everything is working as it should, using the brakes gently and without accelerating rapidly. If necessary, head to a wash station to leave your bike shining and in perfect condition. And of course, head to your trusted mechanic if you discovered any problem that you can't repair yourself.