There was a time when being a hardcore motorcyclist was also called mechanic or at least being inclined by the love of mechanics. Better technology and modernization of motorcycles have made modern day motorcycles pretty reliable from the past. Various fail safe technologies and advanced features have improved reliability over the years and it’s less likely that a malfunction could occur, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s pretty OK to discard all caution that your bike can display at times.
Getting to know the bike you ride on a daily basis would make a lot of sense in learning how things work and also by learning integrated systems and components that require the most required attention would at least reduce the chances of pre-mature failures.
It is also known that riders who take care of their motorcycles immaculately with attention to details at required intervals have benefited from a more precise operating motorcycle which improves the quality of the overall biking experience.
To Sum it up, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation of the America’s (MSF) have devised a check-list that covers almost everything that requires attention and here is an article on the same. The MSF recommends the rider to inspect immediately before a ride, or even checking the things after the previous ride just to have an overall look of the healthy functioning of the motorcycle.
A few feasible Inspections that can be carried out on a daily basis are;
As tyre is the only point contact that gels the bike onto the ground, a detailed inspection of the tyre for nails, screws or any other piece of small metal flakes that could have been sucked in, cuts and damages on the tyre walls should be inspected carefully. A piece of metal sucked in by the tyre that can cause the air leak in the tyre cannot be determined easily until and unless if the tyre is subjected to inspection or a complete deflation which finally draws unconditional attention of the rider towards it.
Regularly rolling the tyres and inspecting them is an effective way of knowing its health and its vital characteristics. It is also to be noted that a rear tyre can be due for replacement even before its shows up in the TWI (Tyre Wear Indicator) if it has gone through extensive burn-outs, hard launches, wheelies etc.
Knowing the tyres best could determine how far you could travel reliably. So, start with the tyres first.
As the age of wired wheels is ending and almost everything that rotates in two wheels are made of alloys, it is important to take care of them too. With a wired wheel it’s almost easy to escape with a bend that can be taken care easily, where as with alloy wheels slamming the front wheel on to a large sized pothole can give a serious dent or crack to the alloy wheels that requires immediate replacement.
Some of the cracks go unnoticed as it doesn’t tamper the handling at once. But remember it can prove to be fatal later on. A good time to look at the irregularities is when cleaning them. A good Sunday morning is an ideal time for inspecting the bearings for tight seals, smooth operation and no side-to-side slop which is highly recommended.
How many of us know that the suspension that is equipped with modern day motorcycles available in India can be adjusted for stiffness or softness? Do all of us know that these affect the way a bike behaves?
Care must be taken to adjust the rear suspension at least to suit the mode of travel the bike and the rider would to subjected to that can literally make a bone jolting journey to a pleasurable one.
Engine Oil and Coolant
Most of us would have left unnoticed the engine oil inspection window that displays an instant level of the bike’s engine oil and same goes with the radiator coolant too.
Although we would not debate as which would be the best engine oil and coolant but we would like to insist to check the same at least once in a week. The easiest way to find out if the bike leaks oil or not is to leave it parked overnight and see for any oil leakages on ground the next morning.
Carrying out all the repairs and maintenance of your loved bike in a workshop will give you a complete peace of mind, but it never hurts to check all the critical fasteners by ourselves once in a while. As the bike is subjected to serious vibrations, the chances of the fasteners being in their place are likely less in most cases.
It is a good practice to check oil drain plug, axle nuts, front axle pinch bolts, swing arm nuts, battery holder belts, side shield fasteners and spark plugs if they are properly fastened. If you are a Do-it-yourself kind of guy, save up some money to get a torque wrench and pull out the workshop manual and start doing things as per the factory spec.
Being the most critical stopping component that saves lives needs regular maintenance at least for the purpose it serves. Disc brake lines should be checked for cracks or leaks that can prove to be fatal on the longer run. In case of drum brakes, never exceed the factory wear limits that it is designed for.
Always go with the components that are recommended by factory. If you’re double sure about the quality and function of after market product it can be safely installed or used. With the case of after market brake lines, it can be replaced with steel braided lines and regular brake pads which can be replaced with sintered ones for optimum braking efficiency.
The Bike’s electrical system matters as much as the bikes itself, as you don’t like to be stranded on a highway due to a blown fuse or a dead. Regular check-up of any burnt wires from the wiring loom, battery electrolyte levels in case of non maintenance-free batteries is highly recommended.
Also ensure all the lights in the bike works normally. Please remember in case of a blown bulb, it’s not just the bulb that needs replacement, something might be going wrong in bike’s electrical system too blowing all the bulbs.
Sum it Up
Riding a motorcycle to a few termed as mere commuting is more personal and an involved experienced to the rest. Whatever the bike you might ride Dual Sport, Cruisers or Sports, only the general ones have been chiseled out here and the issues beyond the common ones like fuel levels in tank that you know right without seeing the gauge by at least 70% would come more naturally once you achieve the feel of the bike.
The basic idea behind this article is to help understand the basic To-Dos on a generic motorcycle. These precautions really help when we see that motorcycling is evolving as a lifestyle hobby for many and we have people riding motorcycles for hundreds of kilometers on the trot. This is to keep our learning curve active. Being proactive in seeking what one needs to know and interacting with fellow good riders can give out some amazing results that can be passed on to the younger.
Attached below is a quick checklist for your quick reference sourced from Motorcycle Safety Foundation of the America