a lifetime ago that we were officially permitted to ride for leisure purposes. Lockdown came into force on 23rd
March and I know you’re itching to get back out there. I’m the same. I’ve got a pair of 2020 models that need testing – a Ducati Streetfighter V4S and a Triumph Rocket 3 GT – that have barely moved since lockdown began. They’ve been washed plenty but not ridden.
So long as the guidelines are adhered to, which can be found in detail in this article, we can now ride, although it doesn’t mean you should just grab the key and head straight out…
Pre-ride motorbike checklist
The best way to check your bike over is to thoroughly clean it as you’ll get up-close and be more likely to spot any problems. It’s also worth using a variation of the police pre-ride check-list –POWDERS – ideally every time you go out…
- Petrol It’s a bonus if there’s some in the tank.
- Oil It should be at the correct level. For everything you need to know about oil, click here.
- Water Check the level, hoses and fasteners. Find out more about coolant here.
- Drive train If your bike has a chain, check its tension and also that it’s well lubricated. You don’t want to spray it then ride straight off, so do this the night before. Find out more about adjusting your chain here.
- Electrics Make sure all the lights and horn work, and that the instrument cluster operates correctly with all warning lights going off when the engine’s running.
- Rubber Make sure the tyres are in good condition with plenty of tread; the minimum is 1mm but you’ll want more than that really. Check the pressures too. For everything you need to know about tyres, click here.
- Stopping Check your brakes; that doesn’t just mean a quick squeeze of the lever – examine the discs and pads to make sure there’s plenty of wear left in them and also make certain there are no leaks in the brake pipes. Check the fork seals too, which could be dribbling oil onto the discs. If the bike was damp when it was laid up, it’s possible the pads could have bound onto the discs a little – they should free straight off but make sure the pistons in the calipers are returning and be extra-careful for the first few miles as the corrosion is scrubbed off the discs; the brakes could be a bit grabby for a while. For more about servicing brakes, click here.
If you haven’t had the battery on charge, check it at least the night before to see that the bike will start easily. If it won’t, charge it off the bike with a suitable bike charger; jump-starting from a car could lead to damage to the electronics so is best avoided. For more on charging your bike battery, click here.
What about other road users?
Because your motorbike hasn’t turned a wheel, there’s a fair chance you’ve not either, so ask yourself these questions…
- Do you feel fit and healthy enough to ride?
- Your mental sharpness may have faded so take your time when getting back up to speed. The same goes for your reactions; take it easy first time out, for everyone’s sake
- Clean your earplugs or grab a new pair if they’re disposable; they’ll have been growing all kinds of nasties over time. You can find out why you should wear earplugs here.
- Don’t forget your wallet to pay for fuel, but also consider using Google or Apple pay. While there are limits to how much you can spend on contactless with your card, there’s no limit with your smartphone.
- If you use corrective measures for your eyesight, don’t forget your glasses or contact lenses
- You may have gained or lost weight since you last wore your kit, so make sure it fits and will do its job if called upon
- Be aware of the road surface – it’s going to be different to how it was when you last rode
- Think about how you might react during your first ride: everything from target fixation to tight arms, shutting the gas in a panic, or worse still unconsciously grabbing a handful of front brake
- The COVID-19 lockdown has affected us all in different ways, so if you’re feeling anxious, nervous, angry, stressed or unfocussed then you need to know when to say no. Don’t worry about rushing it; that could be the worst decision. Ride when you feel ready and brush up on your hazard perception skills here
Are YOU ready to ride?
Motorcyclists won’t be the only frustrated – and perhaps a little rusty –road users; millions of drivers, cyclists and others will be stretching their legs, while concentration and road-awareness levels may have slipped. Just be extra cautious and be considerate – a lot of people are struggling for work and stress level will be ride. Think ‘what if’, back off at junctions, and give yourself those extra few seconds…
Remember, you are an ambassador for motorcycling. Now, more than ever, we all have a responsibility to show the world that motorcycling is a safe solution to public transport, and to encourage more people to be doing it.
Riders insured by Bennetts motorcycle insurance have, and will remain, covered for riding during the pandemic – guidance on the use of motorcycles hasn’t affected your cover, but ignoring the government’s advice could see you prosecuted. During the crisis we extended cover to include volunteering as standard, but all riders with active polices have been – and still are – insured to ride.