Tire clock, get it? It is the beginning of riding season. You see motorcycles out swarming the town like bees, and you are ready to ride. You, my friend, are ready to ride. But before you jump on that bike, take 10 minutes and make sure your bike is safe and ready to be ridden.
Check your personal safety equipment. Make sure you have your helmet, preferably a full-face one. I know that is touchy subject, but if you’d seen some of friends’ faces after accidents, you might feel differently. If you are not sure if a full-face helmet is for you, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Aren’t I worth it”?
Continuing on. Make sure you have good eye protection, a padded motorcycle jacket, gloves, pants (padded or leather) and motorcycle boots.
I know these things are not cool, but if you can afford a bike, you can afford good safety gear that will provide plenty of protection and airflow.
Now it’s time to check the actual bike. To help make sure you remember what to do, some smarty-pants came up with the acronym of T-CLOCK.
“T” is for TIRES & WHEELS. Check their condition and air pressure. During the winter, air molecules compress and air leaks out of tires. You do not want to have a blowout because you missed a 10-minute stop at a gas station. If your tires are worn, cracked or dry-rotted, then get new tires before you ride. Motorcycle tires are not cheap, but that little bit of rubber is the only thing that keeps you from hitting the pavement.
“C” is for CONTROLS. Check levers, cable, hoses and throttle. On the throttle, check its condition and look at the pivot points. For the rest, check the condition and routing of each. Make sure everything moves freely, has no interference and does not pull when you turn the handlebars.
“L” is for LIGHTS. The battery should be in good condition (no acid), held down and fully charged. If you have a vent tube, make sure it is not clogged. The terminals should be clean and tight, and electrolyte levels should be full.
Check the lights and reflector lenses. Make sure they are clean, that the bulbs are working and that the wires are not frayed or chafed. Check the routing of your wiring, too. This will help prevent a short in the electrical system. Check the headlamp; look at the aim of the light and adjust if needed.
“O” is for OIL. Check the engine oil and fluid levels. The bike should be warm when you do this. Be sure you are on your center stand and/or make sure the bike is level. This may require a friend. Check the hypoid gear oil. This includes transmission, drive and shaft fluids. Check the hydraulic fluid. This includes your brakes and clutch. You can see this in their perspective reservoir and sight glass. Check your owner’s manual to make sure you change as things recommended. Check for leaks on all. Look at the ground. If you see where something has leaked, check the gaskets, housings, seals, master cylinders, calipers, tanks, pipes, lines, fuel taps and carbs.
“C” is for CHASIS. Look at the frame’s condition. Check for cracks at gussets or accessory mounts and look for paint lifting. Check the steering head bearings and swing arm. Check the suspension, forks and shock(s). Make sure they have a smooth travel, equal air pressure/damping settings and that the linkage moves freely and is lubricated. Check your chain and belt. Check for tension at the tightest point and lubrication (note: DO NOT lubricate belts). Check the sprockets. Make sure the teeth are in good shape and mounted securely. Check all fasteners, clips and cotter pins. Make sure they are tight. Check for missing or broken bolts, nuts, and cotter pins.
“K” is for KICKSTAND. If you have a center stand, make sure there are no cracks and that it’s not bent. The retention springs should be in place and working correctly. For a side stand, make sure there are no cracks and that it’s not bent. Make sure the safety cut-off switch or pad, if so equipped, is working properly.
One way to help ensure you see all of this is to clean your bike. I like to use Honda’s High Performance Spray Cleaner and Polish. This lets me put my hands on every spot on the bike. I check for any loose bolts and give my bike a great look.
Be safe and enjoy your ride.
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