Looking at your bike

The walk-around.

Before taking your motorcycle for a spin, walk around the bike first, checking for any problems that may be developing. It is always a good idea to check your bike before you ride it, even if it is new.

  • Tire pressures can change quickly on motorcycles because there is less area inside a motorcycle tire than on a car, and the consequences of having a flat tire are more dire when you only have two tires on the road, so tire pressure is crucial to safety when you are on two wheels.
  • If a front tire is under inflated the motorcycle will under steer and possibly even roll the tire of the rim.
  • An under inflated rear tire can cause the motorcycle to over steer and lose adhesion to the road when  cornering, and can cause a tank slapper even at low speed on a straight road.
  • Any oil leaks must be dealt with immediately on motorcycles, as the oil can find it's way to the front or rear tire causing you to fall off when your bike slides out from under you due to the oil getting on the tire tread.

It's also a good idea to check your brakes at the same time.

  • Check around all the hydraulic brake lines and front master cylinder for any signs of oil weeping around the seals (the front master cylinder is usually on the handlebars attached to the front brake lever.)
  • Check the rear brake hydraulic lines and master cylinder for any wet spots that would indicate imminent failure.

Simply by doing an inspection on a regular basis you could avoid a serious accident. Preventative maintenance on a motorcycle is not just about saving money on major repairs, but more importantly it keeps you a lot safer.

Battery and electrics

Preventing electrical failures.

The electrical power supply on motorcycles is more compact than on a car, so there is less tolerance in the system to failure. A smaller battery and smaller voltage control systems means everything needs to be in peak condition.

I remember modifying Suzuki motorcycle electronics for many years, due to their propensity to fail. We found that the small battery was getting cooked by the alternator, which resulted in failure of the voltage control unit resulting in globes blowing, ignition failure and frame corrosion caused by the batterey acid being forced out of the battery overflow tube.

If a battery is failing or old, take no chances! It is a lot easier and cheaper to replace your battery than rebuild your electrical system.

Motorcycle batteries die if left to sit unused, and do so  much quicker than a car battery. If you don't use your motorcycle often, remove the battery leads and put the battery on a small trickle charger. You will save a fortune on battery replacement.

I fitted an electrical plug in the side panel of my motorcycles so I could simply plug it in to the battery charger when I left the bike for a while.

I replace motorcycle batteries every two years even if they still test OK. It has meant no breakdowns for me and the confidence to do a long trip, and even use the battery to run lighting when I camp out in a tent.

Heading off for a 1000 klm ride after checking our bikes.

Heading for Adelaide from Melbourne