Why It’s Important to Do Preventive Motorcycle Checks Before Riding
Checking your bike before hopping on and hitting the road only takes a few minutes, but it’s an important step to take. While you may be anxious to get going, performing motorcycle checks before riding will keep you safe and make for a smoother trip. Here are a few things to look for and the benefits you’ll get from a pre-ride bike check.
Preparedness Equals Prevention
Before your next road trip, it’s a good idea to put together a basic tool kit. Most of today’s bikes come with a few necessities, but you may need more tools depending on the type of bike you’re riding and where you’re going. When doing motorcycle checks before riding, it’s important to be prepared.
Pre-Planning: It’s Good for Your Budget
It’s no fun to be forced to stay behind because your bike is in need of repair and you can’t afford to get it done. A pre-ride bike check isn’t just about safety; it also simplifies the process of budgeting for those all-important motorcycle upgrades.
Read the Manual
Every rider is different, and every bike is unique. That’s why manuals are such an important part of doing motorcycle checks before riding. These books contain valuable information on how often parts should be replaced, as well as suggested values and settings. While the owner’s manual is a great place to start, there are also do-it-yourself repair manuals from publishers like Clymer and Haynes that offer detailed information. Before taking a road trip, find (and read) the right manual for your bike.
Look at Your Bike Before Every Ride
Buying a motorcycle is exciting, but for some riders, the novelty wears off quickly. While a new owner may gaze at his or her bike more than once a day, it’s easy to forget to do motorcycle checks before riding. However, riders should return to the habit of visually assessing their motorcycles before climbing on. When giving your bike a once-over, simply look for loose parts and small holes. While these may seem insignificant now, it doesn’t take much to turn a small problem into a major issue.
Consider Your Bike’s Fuel Capacity
It may seem obvious to some riders, but it’s important to know how much fuel is in the tank before hitting the road. Many motorcycles lack fuel gauges, and those that exist are often inaccurate at certain levels. Whether you use a smartphone app or pen and paper, it’s crucial to track the fuel mileage your bike gets.
Check the Oil
Along with a quick fuel check, an oil inspection is an essential part of performing motorcycle checks before riding. While you’re checking the oil, take a minute or two to look at the bike’s engine. While an in-depth evaluation isn’t necessary, a good once-over will make it easier to find oil leaks. Checking the oil and periodically inspecting the engine will prevent serious problems on long road trips.
Watch for Chain Wear
A worn or poorly adjusted chain is a significant safety hazard. Thankfully, it’s easy to include a chain inspection in a pre-ride bike check. Before getting on, look at your bike’s chain to ensure there’s no slack. If the chain is loose, it may prevent the engine from sending its power to the rear wheel, increasing the risk of an accident. When doing motorcycle checks before riding, include the chain in an overall visual inspection.
Check Your Brakes
If, during a pre-ride bike check, you find air in the brake lines, the brake lever may pull back much further than they did during your last trip. While it’s hard to assess the condition of a motorcycle’s brakes just by looking at them, it’s easy to do with a simple squeeze. To ensure tightness and functionality, just pull the brake lever back a few times before every ride.
Inspect Your Safety Equipment
During motorcycle checks before riding, don’t forget to inspect your protective gear. Before getting on the road, check your helmet for dents, cracks, and damage. Try your bike leathers on to ensure a comfortable fit. Pull out your road emergency kit and inventory its contents to ensure there’s nothing expired, broken, or missing. These easy checks will keep you safer and more comfortable on the road.
Why Are Pre-Ride Bike Checks So Important?
Routine, voluntary motorcycle inspections are important for a few reasons. Not only do they lengthen a bike’s lifespan, but they also prevent:
- Accidents due to mechanical failure. The best reason to do motorcycle checks before riding is to stay safe. Malfunctions, defects, and broken components can all worsen injuries and contribute to collisions. With pre-ride inspections, it’s easier to catch small problems before they become big and dangerous ones.
- Being pulled over by law enforcement. Despite the fact that many states don’t require motorcycle inspections, riders are still expected to keep their bikes in roadworthy condition. Therefore, officers with probable cause can require riders to pull over and submit their motorcycles to inspections. Here, probable cause includes the suspicion that a motorcycle may be ill-equipped, unfit, or a danger to others.
- Environmental effects. A pre-ride bike check allows a rider to prevent the release of harmful emissions and keep their bike in compliance with the EPA’s standards.
Motorcycles have a few basic systems, including the engine, fuel lines and tank, frame and suspension, exhaust, drivetrain, controls and gauges, wheels, brakes, and tires, and wiring. Without pre-ride inspections, it’s easy not to spot problems until it’s too late. However, by learning about your bike’s parts, you’ll find it easier to point out and resolve issues.
While many riders just want to get on the road after a long hiatus, motorcycle checks before riding are essential. Not only will these inspections keep your bike in good condition, but they may also keep you safe. By following our checklist and examining your motorcycle’s crucial components before every ride, you’ll reduce the risk of a serious accident and enjoy the trip more.