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. Many lives have been lost and 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, that gave simple yet effective motorcycle maintenance tips. Hosts Nani Juarez and Bimbo Isidro shared the T-CLOCS inspection checklist, which is adapted from the safety guidelines of the US-based Motorcycle Safety Foundation As you read on, you will discover what this easy-to-remember acronym stands for.
1) Tires and wheels
Just like our feet and legs, the tires and wheels of our bikes must remain in tip-top shape, because these components have direct contact with the ground. Correct air pressure must be maintained, and the tires must be inspected for air leakage or punctures.
Don’t forget to always check the alloy wheels for cracks or dents, because these 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.
Don’t ride a bike with worn-out brake pads. Aside from causing possible stopping problems, they can damage the brake rotor, resulting in more expenses for the bike owner.
The parts that allow the rider to control the motorbike are its handlebars, brake and clutch levers, cables, throttle, and brake and clutch pedals. Without these, it’s impossible to maneuver the bike in the right direction in a swift and safe manner.
Aside from making sure that they’re working well, the brake and clutch pedals must be properly adjusted to your riding style. Also, make sure the bolts holding these parts down are always tightened, particularly those for the handlebars, the side mirrors, and the control switches. The throttle, meanwhile, should have 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, taillamp, or turning signals. Aside from making you 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, see to it 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 battery performance.
4) Oils and other fluids
Before throwing your leg over the bike’s saddle, 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.
Examine 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 check them regularly.
It’s also advisable to intermittently check the rebound of the rear shock absorber. Having a suspension that’s either too soft or too hard is not safe for riding, especially when cornering. The suspension play should be just right for your riding style.
Regularly lubricate the chain to prevent premature wear. Do not let it corrode, or it may snap while you’re in the middle of a long ride.
The stand is connected by bolts and nuts that can loosen due to endless vibration and constant use, so make sure 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 can’t 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.
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.
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopBikes.ph. Minor edits have been made.