‘Powder’ checks can ward off any Bank Holiday biking blues
It’s Bank Holiday weekend, and the weather’s set fair… what better excuse is there to get your powered bike out and go for a ride?
But before you revel in the joys of a ride on the open road, a few checks are needed to make sure your motorbike, moped or scooter is in good order. They are known as the Powder checks by RoSPA – that’s the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents – and they are a simple way to remember the key things to check on your motorbike, moped or scooter before you ride. Do these and you’ll make sure problems with your bike don’t spoil your riding pleasure.
By doing these simple checks, you can not only help to keep yourself safe while riding, but save yourself money by lengthening the life of the bike’s components.
Petrol: Always make sure you have enough in the tank for your journey
Oil: Check the engine and brake fluid levels. If you’re not sure how, see your bike guide – it will show you how to access the reservoirs, and how to top up if necessary.
Make sure everything that needs to be lubricated with oil, is, including all levers, cables and, most importantly, the bike chain itself.
Also, if your bike has been standing for a while, scan the floor and look out for traces of oil on the pavement or garage floor that may signify an oil leak.
Water: Same as with the oil, check your fluid levels, and watch for leaks.
Damage: Is any of the bike scuffed? Any dents around the wheels that cause concern? Are the mirrors and lenses on headlights, indicators and reflectors in good order: clean, and working? Give it a once-over and check all looks okay.
Electrics: Test your horn, check the lights and indicators, and make sure the dashboard is working properly.
Rubber: Check your tyres – at least once a week! The only things connecting you to the road are your tyres: look after them. Good tyres keep you upright, help you maintain control when cornering or taking evasive action, and stop you in time to avoid a crash. Check the tyre tread (at least 1mm legal minimum – see below for more) and look for cracks or things that have entered them the last time you rode, such as sharp stones or nails. Give them a squeeze: do they need a bit of air?
Another tip on rubber: check that your handlebar grips and footrest rubbers haven’t split or become worn down. They give you essential grip, and you don’t want your hands or feet to slip off them at a crucial moment.
A little more about tyres…
The legal limit of tyre tread depth in the UK for all powered bikes over 50cc is 1mm across three-quarters of the width of the tread pattern, and with visible tread on the remaining quarter. For mopeds up to 50cc, the law requires that all the grooves of the original tread pattern must be clearly visible. Most tyres will have wear indicators, which will be exposed when the tread is worn down. If they are worn, replace them at the next opportunity.
Make sure that the tyres have not got any lumps, slits, punctures, cuts or bulges. If they have, replace them immediately.