The urge to ride can hit at any moment. But before you put on your gear, jump on your bike and hit the road, consider taking a few minutes to give your motorcycle a thorough once-over. Experts recommend making a pre-ride check part of your motorcycle ownership routine since it can be vital to ensuring your safety and the longevity of your two-wheeled investment.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has developed an acronym, T-CLOCS, to help you remember the basic steps in conducting a pre-ride inspection. Follow these steps to conduct a thorough, efficient examination of your motorcycle before every ride.
Make sure front and back tires have the correct cold air pressure. Incorrectly inflated tires wear more quickly, provide less traction and cause an increase in your bike’s fuel consumption. Tires with worn tread lead to further loss of traction and have a higher probability of failure. Also check for bulges, cuts and punctures. Ensure spokes are tight and that the rims are properly balanced and spin freely. Finally, make sure the brakes feel firm and have sufficient pad depth, and that brake lines are tight and leak free.
Check the pivot bolt and nut on your clutch and brake levers. Make sure their positioning is correct and they have a full range of motion. Check that all switches operate as intended. Ensure cable ends and shafts are lubed and aren’t kinked or frayed or bund when you turn the handlebar. Check all hoses for damage, and make sure the throttle is within the correct tolerance for play and closes freely and quickly when released.
Check headlight, tail light and brake lights for proper illumination and that the braking and signaling controls actuate their corresponding lights. Look for condensation in the lenses and, remove any debris. Check that the bike’s battery is correctly installed and secured and that fluid is at the correct level. Inspect all wiring, looking for frays, pinching and disconnects.
Check for leaking motor oil as well as brake fluid, coolant and gasoline leaks. Check all fluid levels and top off if necessary. Check the color of brake fluid and coolant.
Check for smooth action of the front and rear suspension, and look for leaking fork oil. Feel for play in the steering head and swing arm bearings. Inspect body paint for peeling or lifting. Inspect the chain or belt for proper tension, wear and lubrication. Check all fasteners for security.
Check for proper spring tension and tightness, and make sure the stand retracts completely without binding. Ensure that the cut-off switch operates as intended.
Be sure to perform these checks before every ride, without exception. It’s also a good idea to recheck your bike when you return to allow yourself time to correct any problems that may have arisen so you’ll be ready to go at a moment’s notice the next time you hear the road calling your name.