At IAM RoadSmart we’re passionate about road safety, which is why we provide advanced training for drivers and riders.
After over 30 years of riding a motorcycle within the police force as well as for pleasure, I’ve come to learn that sometimes the simple tips are the most crucial. So I’ve put together a checklist called POWDERY, which detail important elements of a motorbike that you need to inspect before setting off on your journey:
Petrol. Make sure you fill your tank and top up regularly. If your bike has been standing for a long period of time, old petrol can cause starting problems as it may clog up the fuel system. The best thing to do is drain your old petrol and fill up with fresh fuel. Remember to dispose of the old fuel safely.
Oil. You can check you have the right amount of oil by using a dipstick or sight glass in the side of the engine casing. Remember to keep the bike vertical when checking this by getting someone to sit on or hold the bike whilst you check the oil. Bear in mind that overfilling will also cause damage, so top up slowly and check the level regularly.
Water. This needs to be checked if you have a water-cooled engine. Again, the bike needs to be vertical. If you find that you’re low on water, remember never to use tap water as you’ll need a mix of water and antifreeze.
Damage. Check for any damage – this could be on your bike, helmets or even your protective clothing.
Electrics. If you’re taking your bike out for the first time in a while, it is always a good idea to check your lights and both the front and rear brake light switches. Don’t forget the old feature five, the horn is important too.
Rubber. Remember to check your tyre pressure as well as the condition and tread depth. Bear in mind the pressures may need adjustment depending on the amount of weight your bike is carrying. Pressures should be checked when cold, as the reading will be higher when they’re hot. The legal tread limit is 1mm across three-quarters of tyre and visible tread on the rest but remember this is an absolute minimum and performance will be reduced before this. Mopeds must have the original tread pattern visible but as above change earlier.
You. If you’ve been out of practice for a few months, then you may have lost that ‘bike fitness’. Make sure you are fit to ride your bike and remember to take it slow and steady until you’ve got to grips with it.
If you have been out enjoying the summer weather now is the time to start preparing for winter. The weather may be turning and roads becoming greasy, it will also be time to start applying preservative spray and washing off salt residue. A short winter ride often results in a long session cleaning and fettling but can still put a smile on your face.
Keeping your bike well maintained and ready to go means you will be able to enjoy the winter sun if it decides to visit. If winter riding is not your thing then it is a great time to clean the bike properly before putting it away.
Head of Driving and Riding Standards, IAM RoadSmart