When you’ve got your bike, you want to get out there and rip up the road. But, bikes are machines and there’s a few things you should know about your sweet new motorbike before you ride. Here’s a few things to keep in mind if you own a motorcycle.
Look ahead to where you want to ride
Riding is all about target fixation, when you pilot the bike you look ahead to where you want to go. This really comes into play when cornering. You need to look through the corner, not down at the road or the middle. Look ahead where you want to ride, that way you’ll make a smoother turn and have a better visual of any potholes or other obstacles. A big part of riding is looking ahead and anticipating what you’ll do in any given situation. Keep this in mind and ride safe and ride fun!
This may sound like it’s taking the thrill out of riding but it’s not. When I ride on the UK roads, I’m riding like everyone is out to hit me. This keeps me focused and I can predetermine any hazards that may reveal themselves. Most people are not looking out for motorbikes (wankers), it’s best to assume that a car hasn’t seen you or they might be pissing around with their phone or radio or something. The stakes are higher on a bike and you have a play a smarter game. You can’t control other drivers, but you can control how you ride. Pay attention to everything around you and anticipate potentially dangerous situations.
Don’t forget to turn your choke off
It happens sometimes. Every rider has done it at least once. You’ll need to switch on the choke to prime the engine after it’s been sitting in the cold for however long. But, remembering to switch it off isn’t always as easy. Leaving it on will run your bike rich unnecessarily if leave it on past the initial warmup, which can cause problems over time and you’ll be wasting a lot of petrol.
Do a pre-ride inspection
Motorcycles are either chain-driven, belt-driven, or shaft-driven. Shaft and belt-driven bikes require less frequent maintenance than chain-driven ones. Most cruisers are belt-driven, while most sport bikes are chain-driven. You should check your chain or belt before you head out. If that chain or belt is in bad condition, or is improperly adjusted, it can break. To inspect the chain, turn the rear wheel and watch the chain move. If it moves freely and the links aren’t cracked, then you’re good. While I’m on the subject, you should clean or get your chain cleaned after every 500 miles.
Check for any oil or other fluids leaking anywhere on the bike. Look at the front forks because they have fluid inside. If the seals on the forks need replacing, you may see some fluid coming out. Any leaks should take you down to your local bike garage. After your checks and before you ride off, make sure you’ve adjusted your mirrors.
Check the tyre condition
You’re rolling on just two wheels so you better make sure they’re in good nick! Look out for the things that cause slow leaks, nails, screws, glass, or anything else. Spin the wheels around so you see all angles. Your life depends on that rubber. If you’re in a car and you get a puncher you can pull over and fix it, you don’t get that opportunity with a bike.
Check your tyre pressure
Proper tyre pressure means you’ll get the best handling out of your bike. Low tyre pressure can make your bike difficult to control. Check for the PSI rating on the bike and use a good tyre gauge to check your pressure. Then be prepared to add more air if necessary and remember to put your valve stem caps back on before you head out.
Know the fuel valve (if you have one)
If your bike is carbureted rather than fuel-injected, you’ll likely have a fuel petcock valve with three positions: ON, OFF, and RES. This valve controls the fuel flow from your petrol tank to your engine. If it’s not turned on, your engine will be starved of fuel. As you ride your fuel level gets close to empty and the bike will start to hiccup. Know exactly where your fuel valve is and where the positions are so you can reach and switch to RES (Reserve) before the bike shudders to a halt. Ideally, you want to be able to do this without taking your eyes off the road. Then you’ll need to find a petrol station ASAP. Don’t forget to turn the valve back to ON before you ride off after filling up!