Motorcycle riding safety does not depend on the rider’s skills alone. The motorcycle, too, has a big role to play. We’ve heard about many accidents caused by engine failure, faulty brake systems, steering problems, and so on and so forth. So many lives lost and so many properties have been destroyed because of these issues that were brought about mainly by ignorance or indifference.
We recently watched an episode of “Thursday Bike Talk” (TBT), a regular podcast by KTM Philippines, which gave simple yet effective tips on motorcycle maintenance which riders can apply on a daily basis. Adapted from the safety guidelines of the US-based Motorcycle Safety Foundation, TBT hosts Nani Juarez and Bimbo Isidro shared the T-CLOS inspection checklist. As you read on, you will discover what this easy-to-remember acronym stands for. Let’s do this!
1) Tires and wheels
Just like our feet and legs, it is important that the tires and wheels of our bikes remain in tip-top shape, because these components have direct contact with the ground. Correct air pressure on the tires must be maintained, and they must be inspected for air leakages or punctures.
Do not forget to always take a look at the alloy wheels for cracks or dents, because they can cause the bike to wobble or even a tire to blow up. For spoked wheels, try touching each spoke to determine if the wheel needs an alignment. Always make sure that the spokes are complete.
Do not ride a bike with worn-out brake pads. Aside from incurring possible stopping problems which may lead to accidents, worn out pads can damage the brake rotor, resulting in more expenses for the bike owner.
The parts that allow the rider to control the motorbike are the handlebar, brake and clutch levers, cables, throttle, and brake and clutch pedals. Without these, it is impossible to maneuver the bike in the right direction in a swift and safe manner.
Aside from making sure that they’re working well, it is important that the brake and clutch pedals are properly adjusted to your riding style. Also, make sure that the bolts holding these parts down are always tightened, particularly the handlebar, side mirrors, and control switches. The throttle, meanwhile, should have a little free play and should quickly snap back when the rider decides to slow down or bring his bike to a complete halt.
Never ride your bike with a busted headlight, tail lamp, or turning signals. Aside from being less visible to other motorists, especially when darkness falls, faulty lights can earn you a traffic citation. To get the best illumination, always clean the lens of your lights with a piece of soft cleaning material.
To ensure that the lights get enough electricity at all times, make sure that the battery is at its optimum operating level. Modern bikes automatically switch off the engine when the battery power output drops below 12V, so spare yourself the headache by regularly checking its performance.
4) Oils and other fluids
Before throwing your leg over the bike’s saddle, make sure to check if the brake fluid, clutch fluid, oil, and engine coolant are at the proper levels
And before you inspect the fluids, put the bike in an upright position so you can get a more accurate reading from the tiny glass windows of their containers. Remember to maintain fluid levels in between the lower and upper markings on the side. Overfilling the container with fluid might lead to leakages.
Check the rubber hoses for cracks, because they can deteriorate over time. Consult the owner’s manual for the recommended brake and clutch fluid change intervals.
5) Chassis or frame
This main component holds the rear suspension, the rear wheel, and the final drive. Loose bolts on any of these parts may lead to accidents. Continuous vibration may loosen these bolts, too, so it’s important that you check them regularly.
It is also advisable to intermittently check the rebound of the rear shock absorber. Having a suspension that is either too soft or too hard is not safe for riding, especially when cornering. Just like your morning coffee, make sure that the suspension play is just right for your riding style.
Regularly lubricate the chain to prevent premature wear. Do not let the it corrode, for it may snap while you’re in the middle of a long ride.
The stand is connected by bolts and nuts which can loosen due to endless vibration and constant use. So, make sure that you put oil on its moving parts. Also, check that the tension of the spring is enough to hold the kickstand in its rightful place when the bike is moving. Most motorbikes are now equipped with sensors on the kickstand, so if the spring cannot hold it up, the engine might automatically shut down. You don’t want that to happen while you’re in the middle of the road.
Honestly, it took Juarez and Isidro more than an hour to expound on this checklist. But try doing it on your bike and you will be surprised that it only takes a few minutes. For the sake of safety and riding fun, make these routine checks a habit.