Returning to motorcycling after lockdown

A motorcyclist riding on a road

Motorcyclists in Essex are being encouraged to make sure they are ready for the road post lockdown.

Andy Stroulger, RTC reduction manager and motorcycle lead for SERP, says: “With the gradual easing of the current lockdown restrictions, we can turn our minds to the long-awaited return to getting back out on the roads on our bikes. 

“But ask yourself, are you ready to ride? You need to be prepared – you need to prepare your bike and we also prepare yourself.

“In terms of the bike, it will have been laid up for a considerable period.  Don’t just fire it up and take it out – first carry out some TLC to ensure the bike is in tip top condition.  Give the bike a good a thorough inspection and clean if necessary) to make sure it is fit for the road.

“Use the following ‘POWDERS’ guide to check the bike over.

PPetrolEnsure the petrol is fresh and that you have sufficient petrol for your journey, of the correct grade. Fill up if necessary.
OOilEngine oil should be checked either at the oil window or with the dip stick. The level of brake and clutch fluid reservoirs should be checked, and on two stroke machines don’t forget the two-stroke tank. Never rely purely on the warning light – you don’t want a seized engine.
WWaterCheck your coolant level when the bike is cold and top up with the correct mix if needed. Check coolant hoses for leaks. Ensure your radiator is free from damage.
DDamage & DriveRelates to any danger that may be present due to general damage on the bike and the condition of drive chains, sprockets, shafts, etc. Chain adjustment should be checked and be adjusted if required to your handbook specification, and sprocket teeth should not show signs of hooking. An over-tight chain will cause damage to your final drive bearing which will be a costly job and a loose chain will cause excessive wear and increase the danger of the chain coming off.
EElectricsCheck that the headlight, tail/brake light, indicators and horn are functioning correctly. Check that the engine stop switch and stand ignition cut off (if applicable) are working. With the engine running turn the handlebars from lock to lock to ensure the throttle cable is not snagged.
RRubberPhysically check your bike’s tyre pressures and ensure the tyres are at the recommended pressures. Also check the condition of tyres – not just the tread as side walls are just as important, also examine the tyre wear indicators. Make sure there are not foreign objects embedded in the tyres.  Replace the tyres is they are damaged or show excessive wear.   Tyre condition has a major effect on machine handling and safety.
SStopping & SuspensionCheck that the front and rear brake systems are operating. A moving brake test should be carried out at low speed. Check there are no brake fluid leaks. Suspension (check the bike’s handbook) should be checked to ensure that it is suitably set for the journey e.g. lone rider, with pillion, or with luggage. Check for leaks from the suspension. Make sure the suspension, front and rear operates smoothly without any jerkiness or restriction.

“As well as the bike, we must prepare ourselves, both physically and mentally, to get back out riding.  Remember it will feel strange being back out on the bike after such a long period.  Things will not feel the same as they were before lockdown.”

Remember:

  • You will feel very rusty at first and the bike will feel unfamiliar
  • Take your time to get back into the groove
  • You may feel nervous and reactions slower – take time to build that confidence and hone your reactions.  Consider shorter rides at first or take plenty of breaks
  • Avoid group rides at first and pressure to ride beyond your own comfort zone
  • Slow your speed in order to adjust back into riding.  Give yourself space, time and distance to deal with hazards on the road.
  • Be aware that the road and the road surface will be different to the last time you rode – make allowances for this
  • Remember that car drivers and other road users will also be returning to the roads and they too will be rusty.  They will not be so used to seeing motorcycles out on the roads.  Be especially cautious at roundabouts, at junctions and when filtering

#ReadyForTheRoad

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