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Your Pre-Ride Checklist

Once you are comfortable with your motorcycle and fully hooked on the thrill of riding, it’s easy to just jump on your bike and ride. But, before you get in the habit or jumping on your bike and goingof taking off on your bike, it’s important to reinforce a different habit — the pre-ride check. It’s important to always check your bike before every ride. Here is a rundown of items on your motorcycle that you should always check evaluate before hitting the road, especially if it’s been a while since your last ride.

  • Tires
    The old adage for tires is that they are the only part of your vehicle that actually touches the road. If you have heard that before, that’s because it’s important. Make sure your tires are properly inflated, have plenty of tread, and show no visible signs of damage or cracking. Tire pressure is absolutely critical for motorcycle tires. Even a difference of 5 psi can make a drastic change in the way your bike handles.

  • Fluids
    Start your fluids check by inspecting the engine oil level. Usually, the dipstick or oil fill will be clearly marked on, or near, the crank case of the engine. You can check the dipstick to verify the volume of oil in the engine, but some motorcycles have a clear window in the side of the engine block or oil pan. This means that with the bike upright, you can see if there is enough oil in the engine, and you can also check the condition of the oil as well. If itís a clear and golden in hue, you’re good to go.

    Brake and clutch fluid (if your motorcycle uses a hydraulic clutch) is simple to check as well, since both are usually mounted in clear, capped reservoirs on top of the handlebars. Make sure the fluid is at the fill line and that it’s a translucent, light golden hue. Finally, make sure your bikes coolant levels are topped off, and if possible, check your gear or transmission oil.

  • Brakes
    Having a brake problem while you’re on the road all but guarantees an accident. Before starting your ride, try the front and rear brake levers one at a time and make sure they feel firm. If the levers have little to no resistance, than there is a problem with the hydraulics. Postpone your ride until you can get the problem fixed.

    It’s also a good idea to give your braking hardware a visual inspection regularly as well. Make sure the pads have plenty of material left, and that there is no visible cracking or scoring on the brake rotors. Cracked brake rotors, although uncommon, need to be replaced, while scoring along the rotors can be an indicator that there is a problem with the brake pad or caliper.

  • Fuel
    Before beginning any ride, take a look at your gas gauge, or take a peek in the tank. Make sure you have enough fuel to get where you are going. Very few things can spoil a ride quite like running out of gas.

  • Lights and indicators.
    An essential part of riding a motorcycle is seeing and being seen, and a critical part of the whole being seen part is your lights and indicators. Make sure your headlights and taillights are working properly before beginning your ride, and also check both the front and rear indicators as well. A good trick for checking your tail lights and rear indicators by yourself is to back your bike up to a wall or other reflective surface, (preferably in a shaded area) and trying your rear brake and indicators. Without having to contort your body too much, you should be able to see the lights bouncing off the wall if they are working properly.

  • Clutch and throttle
    Before starting your bike, twist the throttle back and make sure it snaps back to the closed position quickly. A sticking throttle will give you massive problems on the road. Ensuring it is working properly before your ride can literally save your hide. After checking your throttle, try your clutch lever as well. It should provide firm, progressive resistance when pulled in, and should return to the engaged position quickly.

  • Chain or belt
    Always make sure there isn’t any excessive play in your chain or drive belt. Ensure they are in good condition with no signs of excessive wear. Worn chains and belts can break or come off, effectively ending your ride right on the spot. If your bike is chain driven, make sure it is properly lubricated as well.

  • Mirrors and horn
    Checking both of these is a piece of cake and can be done from the comfort of your seat before a ride. Make sure your mirrors are properly adjusted and that your horn is in working order. You may find yourself having to clean your motorcycle’s mirrors more often that you would a car since they are more exposed to the elements.

  • Safety gear
    Lastly, make sure all of your safety gear is in good shape, and most importantly, that you are wearing it. This is the most important, and overlooked, safety component of all. While no one ever wants to encounter a problem on the road, at some point, it will probably happen. Wearing all the proper safety gear is the best way to ensure you stay protected.