Your motorcycle can be a lethal machine. Taking five minutes to look over your motorcycle before a ride can save you time, money and a lot of suffering. Everyone is a little guilty of wanting to get out and ride your machine destination horizon, so all they do is check the gas and go.
This get-there-and-go mentality means critical things like oil and coolant could be low, spokes or, worse yet, an axle nut or a grip may be loose. It really only takes a few minutes to do a once-over, then all you have to do once out riding is worry about the road and ride safely.
Tire pressure is super-important and often over-looked. Just a change of one PSI can make a difference in how your motorcycle performs. We've gone out and hated the way a motorcycle feels only to discover there was not enough pressure in the tires. A good gauge is key to constant readings, never trust the pressure gauge at a petrol station.
Check your radiator and coolant levels. It only takes a second, and if you are low on coolant and get an overheated engine, you're going to feel like a loser because you didn't take the 15 seconds to look at the cooling system. Look at your brake pads and make sure you aren't going to start grinding metal to metal on your next ride. It is way cheaper to replace the brake pads than it is to buy a new brake rotor because you wasted it.
A quick check of the drive chain saves money, headaches, and hospital down time. Most motorcycles are happy with the two-finger method. But check with your owners manual, because some motorcycles like a little more chain slack and some a bit less.
An oil sight glass is an easy way to make sure you have oil in the engine. If you can't see any, you have a problem. Some motorcycles use dipsticks for checking the oil, the principle stays the same...
Before going on a long journey it's never a bad idea to check all the essential bolts and especially things that can fall off. Nothing is more embarrassing, than loosing parts of your motorcycle while riding with your buddies... Another one that seems obvious, but is one of the most critical: Check to make sure your axle nuts are tight – death isn't fun.
Oh yeah, make sure the gas is on before you hit the road, you would not be the first who forgets that...