But taking a few minutes before you get in the saddle can be much more valuable than delaying your thrill seeking gratification. Spotting a serious problem before getting on the road saves you worry, costly repairs, and even protects you from dangerous accidents.
At Twister City Harley-Davidson®, we’re more than just a dealer — we’re riders too. So we understand the importance of keeping your Harley bike in good shape so you can spend less time worrying and more time focused on all the fun you’ll have in the saddle.
In that spirit we’ve put together a short list of some great basics for building your own pre-ride checklist. Read on for more information or head into our showroom in Wichita, Kansas, where we carry all the best new and used Harley® bikes around. We also proudly serve Salina, Junction City, and Hays, Kansas.
Tires are a great place to start on account of them being the contact point between bike and road. Check tire pressure with a simple pressure gauge and check it against the manufacturer recommendation listed on the tire wall. The tread should be worn even between front and back tires, and if it’s not that might mean something more serious is wrong with your bike. Dislodge any foreign objects that may have gotten stuck in the tread, since those can come loose on future rides and cause real damage. Any scalping, gouges, or punctures are signs that it’s time to replace your tires.
Ensuring your bike’s fluids are at proper levels, and in acceptable condition, will help keep everything working as it’s supposed to. Start with the engine oil, which can be checked the same way it would in a car or truck. Simply remove the dipstick, wipe it clean, reinsert, and then pull it out again. The oil should be golden in color and have a low viscosity; if it’s discolored and sludgy, it’s time to replace the oil and filter. Otherwise, simply top off the oil to the marked levels. Engine coolant is a bit easier and should be visible through the reservoir. There should be front and back reservoirs for brake fluid. Simply check the levels on both and top them off to marked levels.
Belts and Chains
Your motorcycle’s engine transfers power to other components through a series of belts and chains, so it’s important to keep them properly connected and in working order. If you have a belt-drive, then inspect it for any signs of fraying or tears, which deserve immediate replacement. A chain-driven bike just needs a bit of lubricant to ensure it can function. Both should hang loose enough not to stress them but tight enough not to come undone during a ride.
Brakes, Clutch, and Throttle
It’s hard to check your brakes, clutch, and throttle without getting rolling. First, inspect the discs on your brakes to make sure they are shiny and clear. There shouldn’t be any grooves or divots in your discs either. The brake handles should move easily and without too much resistance. Roll out of your driveway and as you approach your first stop sign, slowly apply pressure a little in advance of where you normally would. As you begin to apply more pressure, feel for grinding or vibrations and listen for squealing. Your throttle should operate smoothly and should close completely on its own. If your bike is idling at a high speed when it’s not in gear, it may mean your throttle isn’t completely closing. Finally, check your clutch for smooth operation. You should be able to quickly and easily switch between gears, and if there is some grinding when you go to switch into a new gear, it could mean your clutch isn’t engaging fully.
Checking your battery usually begins and ends at whether the engine starts or not, but there are a few particulars you can focus on to ensure your battery lasts for as long as possible. First, if you aren’t riding often or you’ve put your bike in storage for the season, consider unhooking the battery contacts or else hooking it up to a trickle charger. This way your battery won’t die or need to be recharged after a period of rest. If you use and rely on secondary electronics like a GPS or media system, take the time to make sure they’re in working order.
Building your own pre-ride checklist can help you get more familiar with your Harley motorcycle and keep it in operating condition while avoiding costly service. That’s a lot from just a few simple steps! So get to it, and if you need more maintenance tips or just want to check out some awesome Harley motorcycles head into our showroom in Wichita, Kansas, near Salina, Junction City, Hays, Derby, and Hutchinson. Come in today and speak with one of our knowledgeable and courteous professionals who are more than eager to answer all your questions and help you find the parts, service, or bike you need.