Motorcycling - Knowledge

The Beginner's Checklist - 6 Checks Before The Ride

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Motorcycle riding can be an awe-inspiring experience for any individual. However, the act itself is mostly shrouded in risks for reasons more than one. Motorcycle rides can be series of trials and errors for the beginner before he gains at least intermediate skills. These potential “risks”, can, however, be easily minimized, allowing the rider to experience the complete magic of the motorcycle ride.

It is essential for the individual to understand the importance of performing safety checks before the actual ride, however, most of the time, even the best of us, tend to skip the pre-ride inspection. We usually consider it as trivial and unnecessarily time-consuming think. The truth of the matter, however, is that it barely requires a couple of minutes, tops, and can actually help you avoid potential dangers that may come your way.

You can always begin by a visual examination of your bike. Find out if anything looks out of place or incorrect to you. It might take a while to adjust yourself to your motorcycle; however, with time you will know exactly what to look for. Check if your gear is on point, which definitely includes your helmet. Let’s face it, none of us are invincible and the helmet is most certainly not optional during the ride.

The beginner’s checklist includes 6 safety checks that should be followed almost religiously before you begin the ride.

6 Safety Checks before You Begin the Ride

1. Tires

This is the first item on your checklist. Check to see if both your tires are adequately inflated. Also remember to check for any signs of damage. Make sure you check for inflation when the tires are cold. While you’re getting familiar with your vehicle, it is important to know the PSI rating of your motorcycle. It is also important for you to research on the quality and age of your tires. Also remember to check for any damage, anything embedded in the tires, breaks or wearing around the rim, etc. It is essentially important because overinflated tires can cause easy heating of the tire and make the vehicle lose traction, while deflated tires can cause unstable handling and steering.

bike servicing
Check the tires (Image Source)

2. Electrics

Worst kind of electric issues are unknown/hidden wire cuts, these are difficult to find and fix if you encounter them during a ride. With experience, you will learn which wires matter and where to look for cuts or loose connections, if there is one. Knowing the basics of bike wiring is always helpful. For pre-ride checks, you can do a quick check of following things:

  • Start with the brake and tail lights and make sure both the levers are activating the brake lights.
  • Check the headlights for damage and if they are aimed appropriately.
  • Check the indicators and they are blinking in proper timing.
  • Try blowing the horn to see if it works just fine while all electricals are ON. This will help check if the battery is weak.
  • If something is not working, check the fuse box.
Ride Checklist
Check the basic electrics (Image Source)

3. Controls

This cannot be emphasized enough. Check your brakes properly (both front and rear) before the ride to avoid any potential danger. Your clutch and shifter will also require attention. Make sure your clutch pulls easily and isn’t jammed, there should be minor free play in the clutch. Your shifter must be in proper working order and attached securely. Make sure your throttle isn’t adjusted too tight, your cables are lubed and the hoses are free of damage.

performance bike tune up
Check your brakes properly (Image Source)

4. Fluids:

The most obvious fluid includes the gas/fuel, know how much fuel you’ll need to reach your destination and refuel accordingly. The lesser known checks involve the inspection of engine oil and your coolant. Also, take a walk around your vehicle to check for any leaks. In the case of a lubricant leak, the engine hose and radiator will have some marks. If there is oil in the fork it could indicate a broken fork. If the bike is serviced timely issues with oil leaks are unlikely.

bike maintenance schedule
Checks – the inspection of engine oil and your coolant (Image Source)
  1. Chain:

Inspect the chain of the motorcycle to check for tension. It should be properly adjusted and should not be too firm or too loose. The biggest reason for damage to chain and sprocket is no-lubrication; make it a habit of lubricating your chain every 15-20 days (weekly if you ride a lot). Also, remember to check the rear and front sprocket of the chain for any possible damage.

mountain bike chain
Check the motorcycle chain for tension (Image Source)
  1. Pre-ride:

Most bikes now-a-days have indicators that give an information of engine health. If no clear on-screen-display is given in your bike then it’s likely there is a blinking engine light on the meter. If the engine light is blinking in a pattern, then it is a code that indicates a specific problem with the engine. You can refer to the bike manual to understand what problem it is indicating. These codes are simple enough to remember and can come helpful to diagnose a problem if something happens during your trip.

6 Checks Before The Ride
Check the engine health (Image Source)

While riding can be a life changing experience, it is extremely important to take safety into account. Your goal is to ride safe and arrive at your destination while enjoying the road. Always carry necessary tools and spares for the bike in case of any emergency. Always carry an extra helmet and spare fuses, just in case a requirement springs up out of the blue. Remember to research on your motorcycle and its parts before you actually buy it or at least, ride it. During the ride, remember to always stay alert and follow the rules.

After conducting all the necessary safety checks, you’re free to hit the road and lose yourself in the wonderful ride, but where are you planning to go?

Read up on Planning Your First Motorcycle Tour to see what else goes into planning your ride.

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