Pre-inspection is a necessary part of responsible motorcycle ownership. There are several situations when you'd need to perform this on your bike, and you would do well to remember them.
For example, you should pre-inspect a touring bike if you haven't taken it out for a spin in a while and it's been sitting in storage. Other instances where you'd need to do a pre-inspection include when you're going for a long ride on an adventure-tourer or taking a sportbike out on the track.
These are all valid situations when you'd need to perform a thorough check on your bike. However, even if you ride every day, it wouldn't hurt to do this for no particular reason from time to time. So, let's explore how to pre-inspect your motorcycle before riding.
Do a once-over
The first and simplest thing you have to do is walk around your motorcycle and check each component for any obvious issue. If you know your bike well, you would immediately notice if a part is loose or a cable is worn. In case you do find a problem, continue your inspection to check if the issue has affected other parts of the bike.
Many motorcyclists who regularly pre-inspect their rides use a helpful acronym to help them do the job. It's called TCLOCK, and it represents a comprehensive guide to checking your bike for any issues.
Tires and wheels
- Tires — Check for tire pressure and inflate as appropriate. Also, check for tire tread and depth of wear. Uneven tire wear can signal a deeper issue, so avoid riding if this occurs.
- Wheels — Inspect the quality of the rims or spokes. Make sure nothing impedes the wheels and they move freely on the axle.
- Brakes — Check the brake pads and calipers. Examine the master cylinder and brake fluid levels and make sure the brake lines are solid.
Controls and levers
- Levers — Test the clutch and brake levers for proper function. Look for bends, dings, or anything that might impede your riding ability.
- Cables — Make sure the clutch and throttle cable are in good condition and not frayed or otherwise damaged.
- Hoses — Inspect the various hoses for any irregularities. Any unusual leaks, cracks, or bulges can mean you shouldn't use the bike.
- Throttle — Check the throttle free play and adjust according to your preference. Ensure the throttle goes smoothly and goes back in place quickly.
Lights and electricals
- Headlights, turn signals, and brake lights — Check if each light works and is at the appropriate brightness levels. Ensure that nothing is flickering and everything works normally.
- Battery — Get into your battery and see if the terminals are in good condition. If your bike has a voltmeter, it can help you determine your battery's overall condition.
- Switches — Check all the switches on your dashboard. The light switches, kill switch, and horn should all be working properly.
Oil and fluid levels
- Fuel — Check how much gas there is in the tank. Top up if necessary.
- Engine oil — Assess the engine oil level and quality. Check the last time you had your oil changed and perform the change as necessary.
- Brake fluid — Peep through the master cylinders to check your brake fluid levels and augment as needed.
- Coolant — Skip this part if you have an air-cooled bike. If your motorcycle is liquid-cooled, you'd have to check for coolant levels.
- Steering head — Test the handlebars by moving them from side to side and checking for any tightness or stickiness.
- Neck bearings — To check this, engage the front brake and move the bike back and forth to ensure the neck bearings are properly tightened.
- Suspension — Inspect the front forks and rear shocks for unrestricted travel.
- Chain, belt, or shaft — Depending on if you have a chain, belt, or shaft-driven motorcycle, you'll have to inspect that area for any tension or faulty parts. If your bike has a chain, it's relatively simple to clean and lubricate the chain for optimal function.
- Side stand — Check your side stand and make sure it's still bolted on correctly. Also, check for rust as side stands can be susceptible to corrosion.
- Center stand — To finish up, check your center stand and ensure your motorcycle can stand on it properly.
Pre-inspecting your motorcycle using the TCLOCK method can be exhausting and take up some time, but it's necessary for a worry-free ride. Follow the system to the teeth, and you could keep your bike in top condition for a long time.