Optimize your Pre-Ride Checks


Sometimes the simplest things can spoil a great ride or race. Maybe you get halfway through your day's ride with your buddies and can't remember closing the garage door when you left. Or you get to the grid for your race and realize you forgot to put your earplugs in. Or just as you're rolling out for your trackday session you realize you've still got 40psi in your tires. Some simple checks routine, can help eliminate those miscues, making for both a safer and better ride that day.

Often when we think of a pre-ride checklist it's the motorcycle that comes first: tire pressure, oil level, chain tension, and other day-to-day maintenance. What's important here from a riding standpoint is that you don't want to be midway through a ride, remember that you were supposed to check something, and have it bother you for the rest of the day and distract you from your riding. We've found it definitely helps to work thee checks into a routine so that performing them is a matter of course. At the track, your routine may include something like: Check tire pressure every time the warmers come off and check oil level and chain tension every time the warmers go on. You can even work some longer-term items in there as well, such as checking brake pads every time the warmers go on first thing in the morning or checking steering head and wheel bearings for play every time new tires go on.
For street riders these checks might require a bit more creativity. Some you might want to make before every ride, such as oil level or tire pressure. Others you can combine with another task, such as checking chain tension at ever fuel stop. One item we find street riders particularly remiss on is lighting: Check you headlight, taillight, brake light, and turn signals before every ride, and work it into your routine. The object of having these set routines is that you are not thinking about your motorcycle's maintenance when you are riding, leaving you with a clear head to focus on what's important.

Your pre-ride checklist should also include the gear you wear. For some riders the routine is more the way everything I stored between sessions: back protector on the table, gloves on top, helmet to the right, earplugs in the front vents, boots and leather in the trailer. For others it's the order of getting suited up: right leg in the leathers first, left leg, back protector, chest protector, right arm, left arm, earplugs, right glove, left glove, helmet. A bit extreme perhaps, but the routine nature ensures everything is in place. Street riders must find a way of working into their routine sundries like spare earplugs, wallet, mobile phone, a clear shield for the ride home, and so on. Is everything present and accounted for? Again, it's a matter of finding whatever routine works for you so that you don't end up forgetting something that could potentially ruin your day.

Routines in place, every time you jump on your motorcycle you can be confident that there will be no surprises halfway through you ride, but there is one last check: Are you ready to go? That is to say, is there anything nagging at you that may prevent you from focusing entirely on your ride? It may be that you had a crappy day at work and now have to ride home in the rain, or you had a cross word with your significant other before you left for the track. Whatever the case may be, it's important you do whatever is necessary to clear your head before riding. Spend a few more minutes at the office making notes for the next day before you leave, or make a phone call to smooth things over at home. Many racers clear their head before a final with a bit of alone time, perhaps with music, and you can work this into your own regimen as well at the track. Street riders can also benefit from this quiet time before a ride, with a final check to make sure everything is in order every time the key goes in the ignition.

Some riders have such a regimented routine of pre-ride checks and rituals that it borders on superstition, but there s nothing wrong with that. The few minutes before every ride is well worth it if it helps you ride better and safer.Tag: Maintenance Pre-Ride Checklist Riding
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