Get More From Your Motorcycle
Giving your bike a quick glance-over before riding it is an excellent daily habit to adopt. Here are the main areas to focus on for basic safety checks.
Engine oil level
If your engine’s in good condition it will use very little oil between oil changes. However, it’s important to ensure that the oil level doesn't drop below the minimum marking. Here’s how to check your oil:
- Support the bike upright on level ground to allow the oil level to stabilise.
- If your bike has an inspection window, check that the oil level is between the max and min markings.
- If your bike has a dipstick, note where the oil comes to in relation to the max and min markings.
- If the level is too low, remove the filler cap from the top of the crankcase and top up with the specified oil type. Always use motorcycle engine oil – not oil designed for use in car engines.
Steering and suspension
When you turn the handlebars from side to side, does the steering run smoothly?
Does the front and rear suspension operate smoothly when you sit on the bike?
The coolant level should remain constant. If it falls, it means that the system has developed a leak. Here’s how to check:
Locate the coolant reservoir and check that the coolant level is between the two level marks on the reservoir.
If necessary top up with a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and antifreeze.
Always check tyre pressure with the tyres cold – never after riding – because the pressure increases when hot.
Give the tyre a quick visual check for any damage or wear of the tread. Then use a tyre pressure gauge to measure the pressure in each tyre and compare this with the specified pressure (usually on a label attached to the chain guard or rear mudguard). Use a pump to increase the pressure if necessary.
Lights and horn
Check that all lights, brake lights and turn signals work. Check that the horn works – you might really need it in a critical moment.
Check the brakes individually. Their application must be firm and they must be fully applied without the lever (front) or pedal (rear) reaching its full travel. They must also free off completely when the lever or pedal is released and allow the wheels to turn freely without drag.
Check the fluid level of hydraulic brakes by viewing the level in relation to the lines on the master cylinder reservoir. If it is below the lower line, top up the fluid.
Use the fluid type marked on the reservoir cap (usually DOT 4) and top up to the level line inside the reservoir.
Most bikes have chain drive to the rear wheel. The chain needs to be well lubricated and shouldn’t have too much freeplay. If the chain looks dry give it a squirt of aerosol chain lube. If it looks too slack, adjust its tension.