Your tyres are the only thing between you and the road that stop you crashing. Okay, so your chassis has a lot to do with it too, but if you’re tyres are squared off, the pressures aren’t right, or they have any tears in the sidewalls then your bike is not going to handle properly, and could be unsafe to ride, especially over a long distance. Give them a proper inspection on all sides.
Legally you need to have 1mm of tread across ¾ of the width of the tread pattern and with visible tread on the remaining quarter. Ideally, we’d be putting a new set of tyres on when there’s around 3mm tread depth left. Beyond that, a bike starts to get unstable, doesn’t cut through water properly, and causes handling issues.
Check your pressures are right according to the manufacturer’s instructions, especially if you’re carrying luggage an putting extra weight through the bike and tyres.
Adjust your chain to manufacturer’s recommendations, and remember that the extra weight of your luggage could make your chain tighter when the bike is loaded with your kit.
Clean it with chain cleaner, and then use a top-quality chain lube, making sure you clean and lube it every day if on a big distance motorcycle ride.
GENERAL NUT AND BOLT CHECK:
You know your bike best, so before you head off on a big ride, walk around the bike and do a visual inspection, checking if anything looks untoward, or loose, and tighten according to the manufacturer’s recommended settings.
Check your oil is at the right level, and that the colour of the oil is a nice golden amber like it was new, rather than a deep black colour. If it’s black then get the oil changed before you go, as it’s not operating to the right levels of lubrication. If it has any traces of silver in it then you might have bigger mechanical trouble, if it is milky white then traces of water could be getting into the motor. If you fear this is the case then get it checked professionally.
To check the engine oil level, get the engine war then let the oil settle for a few minutes before checking the level. All bikes are different, but as a rule you will either have a dipstick or an oil sight glass. Check your owner’s manual for specific models. Generally, you will need to check the oil level with the bike upright, get a friend to help you. The sight glass will have markers, the oil should be between the two markers when the bike is upright. Each dipstick is different, most require the dipstick to be cleaned and then screwed in fully to check the oil level. Check your oil at least weekly.
We’ve talked about checking your oil, but make sure your coolant is up to the right level, and that your brake fluid is between the minimum and maximum marker on the brake fluid reservoir.
Is your bike up to date with its service intervals? If not then get it serviced before you go on a big motorcycle ride, it’s better to be safe than sorry!