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Before you ride - Motorcycle Maintenance

It is tempting to start a motorcycle and to ride off, but a few minutes of routine maintenance will go a long way in taking you the full distance of which your machine is capable. You do not need to tick off items on a sheet as jet pilots must, but a short mental sequence of things to check and to do will add to your enjoyment and safety as well. Remember to schedule your day, especially awakening in the morning, so that you have the time to do a thorough job, preferably at first light. It is a bit like looking after a baby and for many, every bit as joyful.

Step one: Check oil levels and quality in your motorcycle’s engine. Things can slosh around a bit by the time you get to a gas station and you do not want grime from an attendant’s cloth getting on to your piston. Check levels before the machine has been moved and spot changes in color and fluidity as you look after the machine day after day. Run your fingers or a cloth along lines to check for leakage and the check the ground under where the machine has stood all night, to look for tell-tale stains and pools of oil. Please collect spent oil and have it disposed off safely and in an environment-friendly way at the nearest certified facility.

Step two: It is no big deal, but run a cloth all over and wipe away dust and dirt. Polish is great twice a month or after every tour, and a little water and even mild detergent are welcome. It is a motorcycle bonding thing; do not expect love and enthusiasm from a machine for which you do not care.

Step three: Work both brakes to ensure that they are in good order. Your life and that of people who share your road could depend on it! Check the linings for width and surface after long tours and rides in traffic. Do not wait until the very end to change linings. Check the gear shift as well and rotate the handle bars through the full radius of their movement, to make sure that it is all smooth sailing on that front.

Step four: Check water levels in and terminals on the battery and switch on power to see if lights are all in order. You will not know if the headlamp is set correctly until dark, but turning and brake indicators as well as the tail light are all important for your safety. Check tire pressure with a calibrated gauge and keep manufacturer ratings in mind or on a piece of paper in your wallet. Remember that readings can be misleading when the wheels are hot, whether due to air temperature or a ride. Take a look at the tread and for sharp edges lodged within them.

Last: Switch on and let the engine idle so that oil has a chance to line pistons and cylinders. After a minute-or two if it is winter-check the throttle to ensure that it will not let you down when you need to accelerate in a hurry.

Check the settings of your rear-view mirror, the clutch and the brakes one more time, before you set off for the day. All this is so basic and simple that riders think it macho to overlook them. This could be a recipe for expensive repairs at best and a mishap as well, God forbid! So get your thinking gear on, enjoy great rides and get the best of the motorcycling world with a dose of maintenance every morning.


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