Thursday, April 12, 2012

How-to: a basic pre-ride check up

This is my basic 'how-to' pre-ride check and set-up before a decent ride on any bike. Do not take the basics for granted, is my advice.
I don't think it's foolish to be safe before riding a bike no matter your level of experience. And doing the basics every time you take off for a day ride is just good practise. I'm no mechanic so no sucking eggs, this is just my routine and it seems to work.

Grease your chain regularly

I scored two cans for ten bucks from Supercheap Auto - it does the trick

An easy thing to overlook is the last time you greased the chain. By recently, best advice I've been given is to do it weekly if you ride everyday. Once a month if you are more of a weekend casual rider. O-ring chains are designed to hold the lubricant inside and protect the moving parts from dirt. That means it's pretty important to keep it clean. This is pretty easy and I do it like this. Get an aerosol can of brake cleaner and spray it on a rag. With your bike on a centre stand so the back wheel is free to spin, spin the tyre while holding the rag against the chain, near the sprocket so that it is moving away from the sprocket. Don't do it the other way and chew up the rag! As the wheel spins, keep the pressure pretty light and just visually decide when you think the chain looks pretty clean.

 Then you need to go for a spin round the block and get some heat in those O-rings. This will help for the next step. I just do a few laps around the block - long enough for the second or third light to start showing on the dash, then head back in. Now just get your choice of chain lube, and there are plenty, but Motul, SHELL Advance and Advance Teflon are all good and same thing as with the cleaner, get the wheel spinning and apply a steady light covering while holding that cloth underneath (if you can, use that third arm). The good thing about this little process is that the brake cleaner is highly flammable so it dissolves really quickly, but spraying it into the cloth keeps it concentrated and it cleans crap off, period. Getting the chain hot makes sure that your lube is going to get right into those O-rings and stick.
Just look at that chain and sprocket - like new I tell ya

I've been doing this since I got my Hyper and the chain and sprocket still look like new after 3,500 kms.

Check your tyre pressures

The next thing you gotta do, and a good idea is to incorporate the first bit with this second bit if you don't keep a tyre gauge handy - go and check your tyre pressure. So while your out getting some heat into your chain check your pressures. I got a really neat gauge that fits real sweet on the L shaped tyre valves and is a rugged piece of kit, for a twenty, from our local Super Cheap auto and keep it in my wheelie chair in the shed, it's handy to check your tyres - go figure.

Check your brake and indicator lights

This last one is going to sound pretty anal, but trust me when I tell you I had a BMW X5 drive up the back of me almost pushing me in front of a tram because, yep you guessed it, my tail light was out. Oh and said driver was an extreme douche bag but my light was out. So you've greased your chain, checked your tyre pressures and filled up with rocket fuel now it's time to step back with the bike running and just walk around it, will take you less than 5 seconds, and check your lights are working.

Never neglect the simple visual checks

It's really easy to forget these so make a concious effort not to. Check your engine oil level before you go out and get heat in your chain. Your bike should be perfectly upright and the engine cold. You can use the sight level on the clutch cover side (RH side) of your bike. Oil levels should float between the marks on the sight glass. Next up just a quick check of your brake and clutch fluid levels. They have very easily identifiable  Max and Min fluid levels on the reservoirs so it should be a no brainer. One of the best things about owning a new Ducati is the 12km service intervals. Keep up this basic inspection routine on a regular basis and you won't find yourself in the workshop too often. It's that simple. Greased chain, tyre pressures, check your lights and do the visual checks. Now all you need for that long ride is the right attitude and a clear head. Till next time naked fans.