We know that when you fancy a ride the last thing you want to be doing is a bit of bike maintenance, but by doing a few quick checks every time you get on your bike, not only do you reduce your risk of having an accident, you also increase the life of your bike.
Make sure all the lights on your bike work before going out for a ride. Check both the foot and handbrake switches and give the horn a little blip. If you’re planning on leaving your bike laid up for a while, consider investing in a trickle charger to keep the battery in good nick.
With the bike on its centre stand or completely vertical, check the coolant level and top up if necessary. Remember, never use tap water but use a mix of distilled water and antifreeze instead. Antifreeze keeps your coolant from freezing in the winter, but also keeps your bike from overheating in the summer.
Again, with your bike vertical, check the oil level either by using the dipstick or the ‘spyglass’ on the side of the engine casing. Never overfill your oil; it can cause serious damage.
Check the light lenses, brake and coolant hoses and fairings for damage, keeping an eye out for any cracks to the bike’s frame, missing fairing bolts and dents to the wheel rims from potholes. Also check for loose brake caliper bolts from vibration, cuts and crapes to the wiring harness and, most important, damage to your helmet and clothing. If you drop your helmet, don’t wear it until you’ve had a specialist examine it first.
Your tyres are the only thing keeping your bike in contact with the road, so look after them. Check the pressures when the tyres are cold as they’ll read higher when they’re hot. Check the valves to ensure they’re not leaking and make sure you have at least 1.0mm of tread depth – the legal minimum in the UK. Clear out any small stones from the tread and check there’s nothing penetrating the tyre, like a screw or nail. Finally, check both walls of each tyre for damage.
If you’re planning on leaving your bike laid up for a long period of time, make sure you brim the tank with petrol. When petrol sits in your tank for long periods it generates condensation which will mix with the petrol. Water mixed with petrol is bad news as it can seriously damage your engine.