Think you're ready to ride? Be sure to follow these simple steps first. Check your chain for lubrication and tight spots. If it's dry, you forgot to lubricate it after your last ride. Lubing it now will fix the problem, but it'll also fling chain lube all over the back of the motorcycle. Lubing the chain while it's hot reduces this and allows the lubrication to flow into the nooks and crannies of the chain more effectively. Check the tension at the same time.
It is surprising how much a chain stretches if you don't look after it. If a split link is fitted, make sure the circlip is there, and with the open end facing away from the chain's direction of travel. I've had a chain part company with the motorcycle at more than 120km/h. You don't want to hare the experience. Check your tires if you can see some damage or indications of wearing out.
Now sit on the motorcycle and check your clutch lever works, and pulls back to the handlebars smoothly, then try your brake. If you don't stop, at least you're not in traffic! The same goes for the rear brake pedal. Turn on the lights and check the headlight, the tail light and the brake lights. You don't want to be rearended because your brake lights are on the blink.
Next, check the indicators and the horn. An indicator that flashes more frequently than normal is a sure sign that a bulb has blown.
Okay, start the motorcycle up, slip your helmet and gloves on and you're all set. But don't forget the most important check: the head check. No good having a motorcycle that works if you pull out straight into the path of a BMA City bus.