You and your motorcycle

Keeping your motorcycle safe

It's important that you keep your motorcycle safe by maintaining it and making sure any modifications are legal.


A motorcycle needs more frequent attention than other vehicles. When something goes wrong with a motorcycle, it is more likely to cause a crash.

The only way to spot problems before they cause trouble is to regularly inspect your motorcycle carefully and fix things right away.

Make sure you have read your owner's manual carefully and check the following items each week.


Check the tread for the amount and kind of wear. If the wear is uneven, have the wheels balanced and alignment checked.

Make sure the air pressure is correct, as many blowouts are caused by low air pressure.

Also check for cuts and scrapes that could lead to a blowout.


Check spoked wheels for missing or loose spokes.

Check the rims for cracks or dents.

Lift the wheel off the ground and spin it. Watch its motion and listen for any unusual noises. Also, move it from side to side to check for looseness.


Check the controls for smooth operation. The clutch can be adjusted so that the friction point is where you want it.

Check the cables for kinks or broken strands. Lubricate the control mechanisms at each end of the cables.

Chain and sprockets

Check the tension and lubricate the chain.

Check the sprockets for worn teeth.

Shock absorbers

If your motorcycle bounces several times after it crosses a bump, or if you hear a clunk, your shock absorbers may need to be adjusted or replaced.


Check for loose or missing nuts, bolts or split pins. If you wash the motorcycle regularly, it will be easier to spot parts requiring maintenance.


Your brakes are the most important part to check on your motorcycle before you ride.

Adjust the brakes so they lock the wheel when fully applied. If you can't get the wheel to lock, or if you hear a scraping sound when you try to stop, have the linings or pads checked.

You can also adjust the position of the brake pedal so that it's not in your way. You can overheat the rear brake by having your foot constantly on the pedal.


If you add the wrong accessories or make changes to the motorcycle, it can change the motorcycle's centre of gravity and may make the motorcycle much harder to handle. The wrong modifications can make the motorcycle:

  • wear out faster
  • harder to handle
  • less comfortable to ride.

If you modify a motorcycle, the alterations should be carried out by a recognised organisation. Before it can be used on the road, the vehicle may need to display a certification plate detailing the alterations.

Engineers spend years designing a motorcycle that handles well. Don't make any changes unless you know what effect the changes will have on the motorcycle.

< previous | next >

Last updated: 5 October 2009