6 things to check on your motorcycle before riding

Let’s be honest, there are enough risks on the road for bikers as it is, so the last thing you want to be worrying about is a mechanical problem with your own bike.

Here’s our list of essential pre-ride safety checks every biker should make:


  • Lights – make sure you give your lights a quick test before setting off. Look out for any condensation in the lamps that may cause problems later down the line. Testing indicators at both ends can be done easily in a slightly dark garage. Just put them on and turn your head to see the reflection.


  • Chain – Is your motorcycle chain too loose? Have you overtightened it? Using a Chain Monkey, you can ensure that the chain is set to the correct tension, first time, every time. Is the chain properly lubricated and free from dirt and excessive grime? If not, think about getting some chain cleaner or lubricant, and a proper chain brush.


  • Cables and wires – make sure all cables are moving freely when you pull your brake and clutch leavers, twist the throttle and turn the handle bars. A great way to test if the cables are restricting the movement of your handle bars is to lean the bike onto its back wheel while using a centre stand, leaving the front wheel hovering above the ground. A light tap of one side of the handlebars should see them turn to the desired direction. If they don’t move with ease or one side moves faster than the other, there’s probably an issue somewhere.


  • Brakes – By sitting astride your bike, pull on the front brake leaver and rock the bike. If the bike continues to move forward while the brake is applied, you have an issue. The back brake can be applied and tested in a similar vein, but be careful not to tip the bike too far to either side while your braking foot is occupied.


  • Fluids – Make sure you quickly check your brake fluids, engine oil and coolant levels, as well as their casings.


  • Accessories – This one often gets overlooked. It’s quite easy to do your pre-ride checks, then put the sat nav and panniers on and take off on a ride. However, your customisations could cause the bike problems if they aren’t fitted and checked correctly. Is your sat nav wire free to move once connected and your handlebars at full lock? Are your panniers attached to the bike safely and clear of your indicators? It’s all worth a check.


  • Tyres – check the condition of the tyres. Do you know the age of them? A friend of mine recently discovered the bike he had bought second hand had 12-year-old tyres on them, having covered very few miles in its recent years. The tyres looked in good condition on the surface, but a closer inspection revealed serious tyre wall degradation.Is there anything on the surface of the tyre that could cause you problems, like sharp stones wedged within the tread, or worse, nails and screw heads? Do the tyres have sufficient tread, and are they legal within your country of operation?Finally, when is the last time you checked your tyre pressures? Make sure you’re running the optimum pressures for your style of riding and amount of luggage, as defined within your owner’s manual.


These quick checks will help you to reduce the chances of your ride being interrupted by a mechanical fault, and provides an opportunity to spot any issues that may develop into something worse.

Read more: How do I know if my motorcycle chain is too tight?

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