October 10th Is National Motorcycle Ride Day
Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year. The weather has gotten cooler, but the days are still long enough to enjoy your time outside. It’s the perfect time of year to go for a ride on your motorcycle. In honor of the wonderful weather, October 10th is National Motorcycle Ride Day this year.
How to Care for Your Motorcycle
While riding a motorcycle can be a perfectly safe and carefree way to spend a cool October day, there are always safety concerns to consider. Keeping your motorcycle tuned up and ready to ride is an essential part of staying safe on the road. If you’re gearing up to spend some time on the open highway on the 10th, here are some essential safety tips for keeping your bike in good working order and avoiding a motorcycle accident injury.
Check Your Oil
Oil changes aren’t just for cars and trucks. Your motorcycle needs oil just as often as a car – about every 3000 to 6000 miles. Changing the oil in your bike is much easier than it is in a car, too. All you need to do is drain the old oil then top it up – no getting under the hood required.
Your engine uses oil to keep all the moving parts from getting jammed. It acts as a lubricant, allowing moving pistons to keep your bike moving. Engine oil also absorbs heat, keeping your bike’s engine running cool. Old engine oil can cause problems like overheating, reduced gas mileage, and can even lead to your engine seizing up if it’s been long enough. That can lead to accidents on the road if you’re not keeping your engine in good condition.
Replace Brake Pads Regularly
Brake pads are even more critical for day-to-day riding than engine oil, but they’re not as frequently discussed. Plenty of people on the road either don’t notice motorcycle riders or are actively aggressive towards motorcyclists. In this kind of environment, it’s often up to you as the motorcycle rider to avoid negligent or hostile road users.
That’s where your brake pads come into play. These pads are responsible for your bike’s ability to stop. They are essentially pads of high-friction materials that help your wheels stop turning when you want to stop. As you use your brakes over time, the pads slowly wear down. If they wear all the way through, you can actually damage your bike. Even worse, you may not stop when you need to.
While most multi-vehicle accidents involving a motorcycle are not the motorcyclist’s fault, it’s still important to be careful. Keeping your brake pads in good condition and replacing them regularly could help you avoid a serious crash.
Keep Tires Fully Inflated
Your brake pads are just one aspect of your bike’s ability to stop. Your tires are just as important when it comes to making safety maneuvers. After all, your tires are the part that connects your bike to the ground.
Your tires are designed to be ridden with a certain amount of internal pressure. Keeping your tires fully inflated is key to keeping your bike reliable when turning or avoiding other cars. Tire pressures that are too low can lead to bulging and may make your bike turn less reliably. Meanwhile, overinflated tires are much more likely to burst if you ride over a bump or rough road, potentially causing you to spin out.
Every model of tire requires its own PSI level to work effectively. High-performance road tires often require higher PSIs, while less heavy-duty tires may need lower PSI levels. Either way, you need to check the manual for your specific tires to make sure you’re meeting the correct levels.
Change Tires Regularly
Even if you keep your tires properly inflated at all times, they will eventually wear out. Every time you go for a ride, a tiny amount of rubber is left on the road behind you from your tires. Sooner or later, you’ll be left with no tread on your tires, and you might be in danger.
Tire tread is what keeps your tires from sliding around on the road. Your tires’ tread gives it grip, which keeps your bike from sliding out from under you during tight turns or sudden defensive driving maneuvers. Without enough tread on your tires, even the safest driver can be in danger. You should replace your tires when there’s less than a 16th of an inch of tread left.
Double-Check Your Chain
Another important aspect of keeping your bike responsive is to keep the chain in good condition. Just like a completely pedal-powered bike, the chain is what helps drive the wheels. If the chain isn’t properly maintained, your bike can fail in a number of ways.
You should check your chain every 700 miles or so to make sure it’s still in good condition. Chains need to be oiled and kept at the proper tension, or it can jam or even fall off your bike. The oil helps keep the chain from rusting and allows it to smoothly work its way through the gears that keep your bike moving. Meanwhile, proper tension is critical for shifting through different gears without delays or clunkiness. If you notice rust, a sagging chain, or broken links, then you may even need to replace the chain.
Keeping your bike in proper working order isn’t just important for your enjoyment; it can keep you safe. A properly maintained motorcycle is much more likely to respond in a reliable way in an emergency. Motorcycles and their riders are getting safer by the year, but maintaining a bike is how you make the most of the safety features already present.
This fall, keep your bike well-maintained. You’ll have a smoother ride, a more responsive motorcycle, and a safe experience all around. While you can’t prevent every accident in advance, maintenance can help you prevent many and minimize the damage caused by the ones that aren’t your fault.