It can be easy to get in the habit of jumping on the motorcycle each day for the commute or each weekend’s ride without actually checking the motorcycle out before leaving. But, when it comes to vehicles, a small problem on the bike can equal a painful or deadly experience.
Before going out, there are a few items that can be quickly checked on the motorcycle. Each thing only takes a few seconds to check and is well worth spending the time.
Some tires lose pressure very slowly, and it can be easy to miss this with the naked eye. That is why it is important to have a pressure gauge nearby. If checking the pressure before a ride, keep in mind that it is the cold pressure, and the tire pressure will expand during a trip. Tire pressure should be checked regularly as over or under-inflated tires will cause handling and stability issues.
It is always a good idea to check the engine oil regularly. Most motorcycles aren’t set up like cars: there isn’t a dipstick to pull out. Motorcycles have a small window which provides a view of the oil levels. When checking the oil, be sure to set the bike level to the ground to get an accurate reading. According to certified motorcycle technician Steven DuParc, try to keep the oil level just below the highest tick mark. If the oil goes above that mark, it can get into the air box.
Brake fluid can also be easily checked on a motorcycle. The front brake reservoir is usually on the handlebars with a window and guideline. The rear brake reservoir is towards the rear side of the bike and can sometimes be under a cover, but should also be checked regularly.
Check both the front and rear turn signals on each side to be sure they are working. When checking the brake lights, be sure to check using both the handbrake and the foot break separately. A trick if checking lights in bright light is to hold a hand in front of it. The light will reflect off the hand, making it easier to see.
The chain tension doesn’t need to be checked before every ride, but a quick visual inspection can be performed to verify it’s not too loose or tight. The chain should be checked for tension at each recommended maintenance interval.
When it comes to cleaning and lubing the chain, it is also a good idea to do it after returning from a motorcycle ride. At that point, the chain is warmed up, and it will be easier to remove the grime and dirt on it, and the heat will allow the new oil to seep in better. Plus, by lubing the chain after a ride, it will be ready to go before the next one.
Overall Visual Inspection
Take a quick rundown of the motorcycle. Look at the engine or the ground around the bike. Are there any leaks visible or drops on the ground from something that might indicate a problem? Does it appear that anything has loosened or dropped off since the last time the motorcycle was taken out? Since most motorcycle components are readily viewable, by doing just a quick walk around the problems can be found and fixed before starting up the bike.
A quick walk around inspection of a motorcycle is a task that should only take a few minutes to do. Checking the tires, fluids, lights, and chain can be done visually and easily remedied before each ride. A check-up can assure a rider that there is one less thing to worry about while cruising down the road.