First summer bike ride coming? Check, then check again…

  • Summer’s coming – check that bike
  • Safety first, go ride later
  • Crucial checks you daren’t skip

Summer’s coming (honest!) and motorcycles will be coming out from under the covers to squint a headlight at the warm sunshine.

Those owners who like living dangerously will unplug the winter slow charger, wheel the bike out on to the street, sling a leg over, fire it up (pause for quiet prayer before pressing the START button) and head for the highway.

Which, unfortunately, is where things can start going wrong… the throttle sticks open as a red light gets closer; a corroded steering bearing sticks as you approach your favourite 100km/h curve; the sidestand drops as the corroded spring finally snaps just before your knee pad touches the tar; please send a list of all the things that could go wrong, and often do to, your ANC MP.

He/she might not do anything but you’ll have written down the things that need a fix…

BIKE STILL IN GOOD SHAPE?

Bottom line is, check – if you haven’t been on the bike for a while – that your machine is in safe working order – not much good, for instance, blasting off into the blue then finding you front-brake cable is rotten.

As the Automobile Association asks in a media release sent to The Corner: “Are you sure, after its multi-month lay-up, that your xxxxxxxxx (fill in brand) is still in good shape for the road?

READ MORE motorcycling features on Carman’s Corner

The AA said: “Motorcycling is an excellent activity that brings friends and families together but, just like your car, it’s important to ensure your two-wheeler is still in good mechanical condition, that all the components are working properly.”

Critical are the brakes and tyres – pretty much anything else can break but without these two items working you could well go dead.

‘CHECK YOUR WHEELS’

After firing up, go directly to garage, do not pass garage. Make sure you top up not only with fuel but also air – and while you’re at it, check the treads. Or R200 might not be all you won’t collect…

The AA again: “Remember to check your wheels, making sure that no spokes are bent, loose or broken. Lift each wheel off the ground and spin it for any indication of a problem.”

Other aspects of your motorbike you can check before heading off include:

  • Controls: All pedals and levers should move easily. Check that your brake cables move freely and are not frayed. Does the handlebar move easily through full lock; does the throttle snap closed when released?
  • Lights: Make sure your headlights, brake light and indicators work properly.
  • Oils and fluids: Check the fuel and oil levels carefully – are they in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations?
  • Mechanic: If you’re not mechanically inclined take your bike to a workshop for a mechanic to give it a once-over.

“Apart from these tips,” the AA adds, “we suggest, if you haven’t ridden your bike for a while, that you find a quiet road to regain your ‘riding memory’. You’ll get used again to driving with your head up, looking ahead, checking blind spots.”

…AND DON’T FORGET YOUR HELMET

Finally, check your riding gear – jacket, helmet, visor and, particularly, the helmet strap and its anchors. “Even helmets with no obvious damage,” the AA says, “should be checked and replaced every few years – developments in helmet technology make them more protective.”

If you DO have to replace buy a reputable brand, even if – given the state of our currency – it means parting with big bucks. After all, how much is your head worth…?

Now, go and Ride Safe!

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