Ask the MSF: Master The Pre-Ride Check
October 28, 2013
Q: “Can you recommend a good checklist for going over my streetbike before each ride? My guess is I’m pretty lax, and I think a checklist would help. Thanks!”
A: For a thorough checklist, print out the T-CLOCS Inspection Checklist from our website’s library (msf-usa.org). T-CLOCS stands for “Tires and wheels, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis and Stands.”
Some items only require a visual inspection (lights/turn signals, tire surface); some require a measurement (chain slack, tire pressure); others require a functional check (brake lever/pedal, throttle grip). All the items on the checklist are important, but we strongly recommend giving extra attention to your tires because they’re your sole connection to the road.
Proper air pressure is critical for optimal performance and tire life. Under-inflation can cause sluggish handling, higher steering forces, and internal damage due to over-flexing, and can cause the tire to separate from the rim. Over-inflation can reduce both the contact area and available traction, and can make the motorcycle react harshly to bumps.
Set the pressure according to your motorcycle owner’s manual or the tire information label on the motorcycle’s chain guard or swingarm. Note that there may be two sets of recommendations: one for solo riding and one for riding with a passenger and/or cargo.
Glance over the tires’ surface for any evidence of uneven wear, cuts, embedded objects, bulges or sidewall cracks.
Inspect the tire tread depth to ensure that adequate tread remains. Tires have small wear bars molded into the tread grooves (see photo). When the tread is worn down to the level of the wear bars, the wear bars become exposed and the tire should be replaced.
Although it may look like there is a sufficient amount of tread, it won’t be enough to maintain traction in wet conditions (the deep grooves in fresh tires help channel water away from the contact patch), and worn tires are thinner and easier to puncture. Lack of periodic inspection can result in disaster.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (www.msf-usa.org) is internationally recognized for its comprehensive, research-based rider education and training programs. It offers a wide range of programs, from hands-on training to online opportunities. The group's Basic eCourse (http://online2.msf-usa.org/msf/ecourse.aspx) is an interactive computer-based program that provides riders of all knowledge and skill levels with the basics of motorcyclist safety, while recognizing the best first ride is in the hands-on MSF Basic RiderCourse.
About the American Motorcyclist Association
Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life, and they navigate many different routes on their journey to the same destination: freedom on two wheels. As the world's largest motorcycling rights organization, the AMA advocates for motorcyclists' interests in the halls of local, state and federal government, the committees of international governing organizations, and the court of public opinion. Through member clubs, promoters and partners, the AMA sanctions more motorsports competition and motorcycle recreational events than any other organization in the world. AMA members receive money-saving discounts from dozens of well-known suppliers of motorcycle services, gear and apparel, bike rental, transport, hotel stays and more. Through its support of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, the AMA preserves the heritage of motorcycling for future generations. For more information, please visit AmericanMotorcyclist.com