Before Each Ride
This pre-ride checklist is one of the most important things you should follow before you head out on any ride. What was working or in good shape at the beginning of your last ride might not be working or in good shape at the beginning of your next one.
Disclaimer: These tips are given to you as a reference so you can enjoy safe riding. The best maintenance plans don’t prevent every problem. Breakdowns can and do happen. These tips are meant as a way to limit the probability that something may happen. Ride Safe!!!
Motorcycle maintenance is probably one of the most important things you can ever do. A poorly maintained motorcycle could directly or indirectly lead to a serious accident. Loose bolts, bad brakes, bald tires, bad battery, etc are just a few problems that can lead to serious problems. Proper maintenance can help lower the chances of a possible breakdown.
Just like an automobile or truck, bikes need periodic maintenance. You should always follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. If you’re mechanically inclined you could perform the work yourself. If not bring it to a qualified motorcycle technician.
Follow Your Maintenance Guidelines
As with automobiles, there are many different manufacturers of motorcycles. Each one will have its own maintenance guidelines and schedules. Make sure you follow them. Also, every time you go out to ride, check your bike. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation came up with an awesome acronym to help you remember a handy little checklist to do before every ride. It’s T-CLOCK.
This can be done before each ride but if you do it after a ride you might just save a future ride. What I mean by that is, if you do this checklist after a ride and find a problem, you can correct it before your next ride. If you wait and do this before a ride and find a problem, ride over. Instead of riding you will be fixing.
T– Tires and Wheels
C– Control Levers
L– Lights and Battery
Let’s break down each section.
T– Tires and Wheels– Check the tread depth, air pressure, overall tire condition. Are there any bulges, bubbles, or uneven wear? Check the rim condition. Any cracks, broken spokes, or dents? Give your tire and rims a good once over. Don’t forget to look for any leaking grease.
C– Controls– Levers, cables, hoses, and throttles. Are any of the levers broken? How are the mounts and pivot points? Are any of the cables frayed? How about the cable routing? Any kinks? Are the hoses cracked, bulging, deteriorating, or chafed? Is the throttle free from binding? It should move freely.
L–Lights– At the root of all things lights (and electrical), is your battery. Make sure your cables are tight and the battery is secured properly. Check all your lights and light lenses. Make sure all your lights are working. Check the lenses and make sure they are not cracked or filled with water. The same goes for reflectors. Check your wires and make sure none are chafed. Make sure they are not hooked or wrapped around anything that would interfere with your riding.
O– Oil– Check your oil level, hydraulic fluid, gear oil, and anti-freeze levels. Make sure you have fuel. You don’t want to find yourself stuck on the side of the road for something as simple as running out of fuel. Make sure there are no fluids leaking anywhere.
C– Chassis– Look for cracks of any kind. Check the steering head by moving the handlebars back and forth checking for any tightness or binding. Apply the front brakes and rock the bike back and forth to check for free play in the neck bearings. Check the front forks for smooth movement and air pressure (if air adjusted.) The same goes for the rear shocks (s.) Check your chain tension. Make sure the teeth on the sprockets are not worn or cracked. Make sure bolts are tight and there are no clips or cotter pins missing. If your bike is belt-driven, check for cracks, tension, or any debris stuck in it.
K– Kickstand– make sure your kickstand and center stand are not cracked or bent. Make sure the springs are in place and there is enough tension to hold them up.
S– Stands– A more recent version of “TCLOCK” is “TCLOCS” The “K” which stood for kickstands has been updated to an “S” for stands. This would include side stands (kickstands) and center stands.
There you have it. Inconvenient? Yes, but the consequences of not doing it could be much worse. If there is anything in this checklist that you are not familiar with, take the bike to a service facility and have them explain the procedures to you. If you are handy, I would highly recommend you pick up the service manual for your particular bike.
What do you do before you take your bike out for a ride? Let me know in the comments below.
Ride Often/Ride Safe