Martin Craig from South Lanarkshire sent me the following email regarding the below installment.
“I was wondering if you could maybe do a topic on the weekly safety checks you do on your bike? For me as a new rider I would find this very handy having an experienced opinion and view on this”.
Every daily check I complete weather it be on a car or bike, I use the acronym P.O.W.D.E.R which is drummed into every Police driver and rider when they first join the Police. The modern day Police service would not be able to survive without acronyms, for instance P.O.L.A.C = Police Accident, R.T.C = Road Traffic Collision etc.
P.O.W.D.E.R stands for Petrol Oil Water Damage Electrics Rubber. I will now explain further how to use P.O.W.D.E.R as your pre-flight checks. Trust me it will soon become second nature to you.
- Petrol. Not only check if you have enough fuel for your journey but also consider the following. If you decide to lay your bike up for a long period of time, “brim” your tank to the top with fuel. Petrol unlike other fuels is extremely cold; when it sits in a metal container (your tank) it will generate condensation which in turn will mix with the petrol. As everyone knows water mixed with petrol is a very bad thing and will seriously damage your engine. A lot of people lay up their bikes over the winter period in a cold garage and leave just a small amount of fuel in the bike’s tank, a very bad thing to do.
- Oil. Check the oil level to make sure it is at the correct height either by a dipstick or a spy glass in the side of the engine casing. Remember to have the bike on its centre stand, use a paddock stand or get someone to sit on the bike to keep it vertical. Remember over filling an engine with oil is much worse than letting the level drop below the minimum mark. An over filled engine will blow oil seals everywhere around the engine and will cost loads to rectify.
- Water. If you have a water cooled engine check the level of the coolant again with the bike on its centre stand or with the bike totally vertical. If the level is low remember not to use tap water. Always top up with a mix of distilled water and antifreeze. Antifreeze not only keeps the coolant from freezing in the winter but also helps to stop your bike from over heating in the summer. Don’t only check the water level but also check the antifreeze mix. You can buy a handy little tester from Halfords that measures the amount of antifreeze present in the coolant mix; the gadget only costs a few pounds. I have attached a picture and price of the coolant tester at the end of this topic.
- Damage. Check over your bike totally for damage not only to fairings but also light lenses, brake and coolant hoses, cracks to the bike’s frame, missing fairing bolts, dents to the wheel rims from pot holes, loose brake calliper bolts from vibration, cuts or brakes to the wiring harness and most importantly damage to your crash helmet. If you accidently drop your lid or if it falls off your seat then don’t wear it until you have a specialist examine the helmet. Most bike clothing retailers will examine your crash helmet for you. I know for a fact Shoei will examine their helmets for a small fee. Whilst focusing on helmet security, always try and take your lid with you when away from your bike, you never know what can happen to it! A few years back before joining the Police, I smeared the whole interior of my mate’s crash helmet with black boot polish. When we returned from our ride out and my friend took his lid off, he looked like a coalminer, what a hoot! When you do leave your helmet with your bike place it between the clip on handle bars, it won’t roll of the bike and the bike’s screen will protect it from the rain. The other option is to place your gloves on the floor with the palms facing down and put the helmet on top, that’s the way I was taught during my advanced Police course.
- Electrics. Complete a full lights check before a ride remember to check both the foot and hand brake switches. Give the horn a quick blip and if you are planning to lay the bike up for a while, it’ll be worth buying a trickle charger.
- Rubber. Your hoops keep you in contact with the road so make sure you look after them. Check the tyre pressures when the tyres are cold because the pressure will read higher when the tyres are hot. Also place a bit of spit on your finger and smear it into the valve to ensure the valve is not leaking air bubbles. Obviously check the tread depth of both tyres and clear out any small stones from between the tread pattern. The minimum tread depth for motorcycle tyres in the UK is 1.0mm. Visually check both walls of each tyre to make sure there are no cracks starting to form due to lack of use or age. If you are going to lay the bike up for more than a month on a cold concrete floor, place a piece of carpet under both tyres because cold concrete with draw silica oil out of the rubber of the tyres and reduce the performance on the tyre.
I hope this helps Martin and thanks for the question. To all you other readers remember if your question gets published on my page, I will send you a free Safer Rider goodie bag to say thanks.