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Getting Back to Riding | Top Tips for you and your motorcycle

BikeSocial Web Editor. Content man - reviewer, road tester, video presenter, interviewer, commissioner, organiser. First ride was a 1979 Honda ST70 in the back garden aged 6. Not too shabby on track, loves a sportsbike, worries about helmet hair, occasionally plays golf and squash but enjoys being a father to a 6-year old the most.

Posted:

24.02.2023

Non-essential travel is now acceptable but if you’re getting back on your motorbike again then take a look over our advice first

 

Winter may have come and gone, the sun is shining and the roads are dry so it's about time for the less-hardy 'all-weather' riders to bring their motorcycles out of hibernation. Plenty have been washed but not ridden. Some have been bought or sold while others haven't had their insurance renewed, but before the keys are grabbed please do cast your eye over the below to ensure you and your machine are prepped for the road…

 

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 – P.O.W.D.E.R.S. – 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.

  • Drivetrain - 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.

It goes without saying that you must have valid insurance in place before hitting the road, but its also worth checking your policy and updating any changes that may have happened over the winter. For Bennetts customers, your policy documents are always available online using the 'My Account' feature and you can also inform us of any changes using the Online Service Centre.

 

Top Tips for Returning to Riding

If you've taken a break from motorcycling because of winter, injury, or any other circumstance then our helpful guide offers a handy checklist of what to think about before going for a ride; both for you and your bike

 

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…

 

Be a better rider - tips, techniques and tactics for your first post-winter ride

Recorded in early 2021, these are our thoughts on getting back on your motorbike, which is relevant for both risers who have put their bike away for winter or been away from motorcycles for some time. We can all be a little bit rusty after some time off the bike!