It may be tempting to jump on your motorcycle and go off without another thought, but it is important that your bike is in good condition before you hit the road. Experts recommend that you perform a quick inspection before each trip.
What should I inspect on my motorcycle?
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) suggests checking six areas before each turn. It uses acronym T-CLOCS to help riders remember to look at tires and wheels (T), controls (C), lights and electricity (L), oil and other liquids (O), chassis (C) and stand ( S).
If you are not familiar with the motorcycle's controls or parts, you may want to consider taking a course, such as the MSF New Rider Program, which includes a review of the T-CLOCS. It is also a good idea to consult your user manual for the bike's specific maintenance needs.
For those who are already familiar with their cycle, the MSF gives the following guidance on some of the parts to be inspected in each area:
Tires and Wheels
Make sure both tires are in good condition before you begin go. Ensure that there are no embedded objects and bulges and tire wear monitoring can contribute to a safer ride. It is also a good idea to check your tire pressure, especially when it is cold outside, to make sure they have enough air.
When you look at the tires, take a look at the wheels so that everything looks in order. Watch for bent, broken or missing spokes, for example, and look at too much fat, which may indicate a cracked seal.
Finally check brake linings and discs for wear and make sure both brakes work. 1
It is important to know that each of your bike controls is in working order every time you ride. Make sure that your handles are properly in place and that your guides are straight and swivel easily. Make sure your accelerator pedal moves easily and does not give a revving sound when turning the handlebar.
Also test your levers and pedals for them to be properly adjusted and not to bend or break. And don't forget to look over your cables and hoses for visible damage, such as cuts or kinks.
Lights and Electrics
Your motorcycle battery is essential for starting and cycling, so it is important to make sure it is in good condition. Take a look at the battery contacts to make sure they are clean and check that the electrolyte levels are correct.
Give your lights once over so that your headlight, brake light and turn signals work. Look over some threads and gears to make sure they are in good condition and make sure your mirrors are clean and have no cracks in them.
Oil and other fluids
Your motorcycle depends on a number of liquids to keep it running. Before you press the open road, make sure your bike has enough fuel, engine oil, coolant and hydraulic fluid and transmission fluid. Also look at the bike seals, seals and hoses to make sure there are no signs of fluid leakage.
It's also a good idea to make sure your bike's body is in good condition. Check for cracks in the caps and make sure there are no damage to the accessory brackets. Also test your bearings and bushings by pushing and pulling swing arms and forks to make sure they work properly. Don't forget to look at the chain or belt to make sure it has the right tension and that the chain is lubricated and the teeth are engaging.
In addition to ensuring that your bike goes well, it is important to make sure that it can support itself when you finish your trip. Take a look at the condition of the center and the side stand – if they are cracked or bent, you may want to have them repaired. Also make sure your tripod springs have enough tension to keep your bike upright.
What if I find a problem on my motorcycle?
In some cases, you can easily easily address a problem yourself. For example, you may want to exceed your coolant if you notice that the level is low. In other cases, you can get your bike to a workshop, so a professional can assess any damage and repair.
Sometimes you may be tempted to tackle a problem yourself, but it is a good idea to consider whether you have the skills and resources needed to complete the task. For example, if you discover a nail in your deck, don't pull it out right away, especially if you don't have a tire repair kit at hand, Motorcycle.com says.
Although there are several components to review, a motorcycle pre-ride control can usually be performed fairly quickly, according to Motorcycle.com. Conducting checks at regular intervals is a good way to get acquainted with your bike so you will be more likely to discover problems when they arise.
When you are sure your bike is in good condition, then go out on the road and know that you have taken important steps to help you and your motorcycle be safe on the road.
Originally published April 26, 2012.