A rider can always just hop on his bike and zoom off. But for a safe and hassle-free ride, he should habitually conduct proper check-up of his motorcycle before taking off. When I took the Basic Safety Riding Course offered by Honda Philippines, I learned a lot of things.
One handy acronym that's easy to remember is the TCLOCS inspection checklist coined by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, an internationally recognized developer of the comprehensive, research-based, Rider Education and Training System (RETS). The acronym stands for Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis and Stand. It covers all aspects of your motorcycle:
T is for tires (including wheels and brake system). Check the condition of your tire tread. Tread should be visible with about 1mm tread depth. Recommended tire pressure is stamped on the tire's sidewall. But this can be adjusted if the rider is going extreme off-road and circuit racing. With the bike using the stand and the engine shut off, rotate the rear wheel using your hands. Feel for any resistance while turning the wheel. Visually inspect your rims for any dents or dings, particularly on the edges where the lip of the tire edge is located.
C is for controls (including the handlebar, levers and pedals, cables, hoses and throttle). Always visually inspect handlebars if they are straight and can move freely from left to right and vice versa. Make sure that the handgrips and bar ends are secure. Levers and pedals should always be in tip-top shape. If they're cracked or bent, replace them right away. Levers should be smooth when gripping and pivot points should be lubricated.
Hoses (brake fluid, oil and water) must not have cracks, cuts, leaks, chaffing, bulges and other signs of deterioration. Throttle should move freely without any resistance and snaps back quickly as released. The slow return of the throttle handlebar grip indicates resistance in the cable which may be due to non-lubrication or frayed inner materials.
L is for lights (headlight, signal lights and brake light). Regularly check the battery for loose terminals, corrosive buildup, or both. Also check if the battery is secured in place. Inspect the bulbs of headlights, signal and brake lights. Brake lights should activate when you grip your right handlebar lever and/or right foot pedal. Check headlight alignment so as not to blind oncoming vehicles. Note that wiring should be tightly secured.
O stands for oil (and other fluids). Always check the brake fluid level. It should always settle between the maximum and minimum level as indicated on the fluid bottle. If the oil feels watery when touched, it’s time for oil change. For water-cooled engines, check the coolant level and add if necessary. Also, scan for any leak.
The bike should always ‘look’ dry. Any signs of moisture or wetness should be inspected more thoroughly. If you park your motorbike on a regular spot, one indicator of leak is stain on the floor.
C is for chassis. If you figured in a bike crash, check for any cracks on the frame. The front and rear suspension should not be springy when pressure is applied. Check the front fork for any oil leak. The chain should have ample tension and should not look like it’s sagging. Maintain cleanliness and lubrication on the chain. Mud and grease buildup adds to the deterioration of the sprocket. Likewise, a dry, rusting chain can lead to possible chain breakup. Inspect all fasteners and clips for signs of deterioration or loosening.
S is for bike stand. It could either be a side or a center stand. Make sure the spring can retract to its standby position before the bike starts to move. A loose stand can make your bike swerve uncontrollably while turning.
But after all that's said and done, common sense and logic should still prevail. You know that it’s your safety that will matter most so a little common sense when examining your bike will go a long way in giving you endless enjoyment.
As the popular saying goes: Kailangan pa bang i-memorize ‘yan?