Regardless of how frequently you ride, both on-road wear and inactivity can take their toll on your bike. So whether you’re taking a cross-country summer road trip or just going out for a spontaneous ride around town, there are a few simple things to check on your motorcycle before you hit the road. (But before anything, be sure your affordable motorcycle insurance is up to date!).
To help you remember what needs checking, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation created the acronym “T-CLOCS” (tires, controls, lights, oil, chassis, and stands). You can run down this quick checklist in just 3 minutes!
Tires and Wheels
Since tires and wheels are the parts that touch the road, they are probably the most important things to inspect. Problems with your tires can affect how the bike handles and drives. Are the spokes straight? How’s the treading and air pressure? The tread should be more than 1/16 of an inch. If you don’t want to pull out a ruler, check treading by using the distance between the top edge of a penny and the top of Lincoln’s head—it’s about 1/16 of an inch. Check your owner’s manual for recommended tire pressure levels (and keep a tire pressure gauge on hand to check your levels).
Controls and Cables
Checking all controls prior to riding can help ensure you don’t end up stranded somewhere. Are all your cables and controls intact and working properly? Examine the clutch and brake lines and make sure the levers operate smoothly. You should also inspect all lines for cracks, leaks, bulges, and deterioration.
Head and taillights are crucial to not only your driving visibility, but also the ability of other drivers to see you. Ensuring your lights work can help you avoid accidents on the road. Start the ignition and check the headlights (both high and low beams), left and right turn signals, and brake lights.
Oil and Fluids
From engine oil to coolant, checking all the fluid levels on your bike is a necessity. Are there any leaks in the system? Many motorcycle models don’t have gas gauges, which means suddenly running out of gas is a real possibility if you’re not vigilant. To avoid running out of gas, be sure to check the gas level each time you ride. Setting your trip meter when you fill up can help you keep track of your mileage.
The structure of your bike is just as important as the fluids that keep it running. Any changes in suspension or frame can impact how your motorcycle behaves while driving. For a quick check, sit on the bike and rock back and forth to make sure all the parts move smoothly. If you have an adjustable suspension system, remember to check the owner’s manual for proper load weight adjustments.
Side and Center Stands
Are the stands cracked or bent? Do they get stuck or buckle easily? These problems could mean your bike ends up horizontal if they go unchecked. Also, inspect the spring (or springs) to make sure they are in place and have the proper tension.
Though these checks may seem extensive, the whole process should only take about 3 minutes. For a more detailed checklist, see the MSF T-CLOCS Inspection list. Once everything is in place and working properly, you’re ready to go and enjoy the ride!
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