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How to prep your bike for summer

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Planning that first big ride of the year? Make sure your bike’s up to it with our essential checklist of how to get your bike ready for the road.

Man maintaining his bike

Tyres

Your tyres are what hold you and your bike on the road, so they’re probably the most important thing to check. Any problems here can severely affect handling.

We'd recommend making these checks weekly through the summer months, as well as after any long period of storage and before any long ride.

Tyre pressure

Tyre pressure should be checked when your tyres are cold. Most people would say your tyres are cold enough if:

  • the bike has ridden less than a mile

  • or it’s not been used for three hours or longer

If you don’t have your own pressure gauge most petrol stations have one, and you can find your recommended tyre pressure in your owner’s manual.

If you notice you’re losing 5-10% of your pressure a week, this could be a sign of a leaking valve. You can check this by coating the valve with a thin layer of water and washing up liquid solution and watching for bubbles.

Alternatively, spit also works well and, if you find air escaping, you may need to have the valve replaced.

If your tyres are consistently losing pressure it’s worth having them checked by a professional.

Tread

Motorbike tyre with screw in it

The legal limit for tread depth in the UK for bikes over 50cc is 1mm across three-quarters of the width of the tread pattern, with visible tread on the remaining other quarter.

For bikes under 50cc, all the grooves of the original tread pattern must be clearly visible.

Regular tread checks help make sure you’re getting the best grip possible from your bike. They also help you find any cracking of the sidewall rubber or any cuts, bulges and foreign objects stuck in your tyre.

Brakes

You should check your brake pads before every ride. Any problems here can not only be dangerous, but may also cause costly damage to your bike if you allow them to wear down to the metal.

Most pads have a wear indicator to tell you when they need replacing. If not, aim to replace them once they’re worn down to around 2mm.

Before riding, apply the front brake and push the bike forward – the wheel shouldn’t move and the brake should feel firm. Check the rear brake in the same way.

It's good practice to check all controls on your bike before hitting the road, and to make sure that all levers and cables work smoothly.

Oil & fuel levels

Running out of petrol on the road is a bummer, and since many bikes don’t have petrol gauges, it’s a common problem.

Stay on top of your fuel tank by always resetting the milometer after filling up, and building up a general idea of how far a full tank can take you.

While a dry tank can be a nuisance, running out of oil can pretty much destroy your engine. This is why it’s worth checking your oil levels before every ride - especially if you’re new to the bike and still getting used to its oil consumption.

Lights

Motorbike headlight

Being able to see, and to be seen by other road users are two of the best ways of avoiding accidents on your bike. Having a full set of working lights is a pretty good start.

Before setting off you should check your:

  • headlights (high and low beams).

  • tail light.

  • brake light.

  • front and rear indicators.

If you find any problems here, they could be caused by faulty relays or bulbs.

You must have your bike MOT tested every 12 months in line with the law, and keep an eye on the condition of your helmet and leathers.

Most manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet after even minor damage, as chips and cracks can quickly expand and reduce its efficiency.

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