Now that summer is in full swing and you’re taking all your motorcycles for weekend rides, or commuting on them, or just wandering around for an aimless jaunt, are you keeping an eye on all of the small things that could become big things?
Do you remember when you took the MSF class to learn how to ride a motorcycle? Do you also remember that the instructors had some pretty good ideas about how to keep an eye on, and maintain the important systems of your motorcycle so that your motorcycle keeps running and rolling perfectly? That way, you can focus all your attention on riding well and avoiding danger on the road.
Perhaps T-CLOCS will ring a bell. Sometimes there’s a “K” in there for “Kickstand,” and sometimes it’s just an “S” for "Stands," which reminds you to check your center stand, too.
The “T” comes first because tire pressure is very, very important. Most of this can be accomplished in a quick walk-around, but certainly do a more in-depth check on a regular basis, too.
T is for Tires (and wheels)
Take a look at your tires. How is the tread, and can you see the wear bars? Check your tire pressure with a gauge, and make sure you didn’t pick up any nails on your last ride. Are your wheels still round after that pothole you hit? Are any of your spokes missing or broken? Every time you have the wheel off the bike, check your bearing seals and make sure they’re in place and not leaking. Check the bearings themselves by putting your finger into the axle hole and spinning them. If they are anything but perfectly smooth, have them replaced; bearings can go very bad in a very short (like, 30 miles) span. Are your brake pads nice and meaty? Do both front and rear brakes grab the disc adequately?
C is for Controls
This covers everything that you might touch while you’re operating the motorcycle. Handlebars, throttle, brakes, clutch, and all their corollary cables and hoses. You’re making sure everything works and moves the way it should, and nothing is cracked or leaking.
L is for Lighting
Lights and electrical are included here, along with your mirrors. Again, making sure everything works properly, no wires are chafed bare, and all your lights light up appropriately. Does your brake light illuminate when you depress the rear pedal as well as when you squeeze the front lever?
O is for Oil
Running a bike with too little oil in it is a gamble you do not want to take. If your bike tends to burn, or leak, or otherwise “use” oil, you want to stay on top of this. Check your oil every day that you ride. This category also covers all of the other fluids your bike needs: coolant, brake fluid, clutch fluid (if applicable), and final drive oil (also if applicable). Make sure their levels are appropriate, and that nothing is leaking.
C is for Chassis
All your bike’s hard parts: the frame of the bike shouldn’t have any cracks or scratches, and all the connecting fasteners should be in good shape. The swingarm should have no play in it. The forks should be clean (wipe off those bug shells, they can slice through your seals) and not leaking. Take this opportunity to check the state of your chain and its tension (your owners manual will tell you how to check it and what the play should be). Note that some bikes want you to check the tension with the bike on the side stand, some on the center stand, others yet with the rider on the bike: do what your manual says.
S is for Stands
Your side stand (or “kickstand” or “jiffy stand”) and center stand, if your bike is equipped with one, should move smoothly and, most importantly, snap up to the frame of the bike and stay there when they’re not engaged. It’s easy for road grime to get into the mechanisms of your stands, so clean and re-grease them regularly. I like to use spray brake cleaner and white lithium grease. You don’t want your stand hanging off your bike while you’re moving; it can cause trouble!
Now go ride with renewed confidence in your machine!