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POWERS: a quick way to keep your bike in check

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Published on 31 January 2017 by Robert Drane

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Filed under Category: Tips and advice

Mike Dall offers some great tips for all motorcyclists to keep them and their bikes safe

Many years ago, I learned this helpful mnemonic or aide-memoire: POWERS. I run through it every time I plan to take my bike out for a ride. It’s a simple and effective routine which you can easily learn and adopt. Each letter indicates an item or an area or system of the bike that you should physically check. It is best to take a good long look over that particular system, wherever its components are visible. Running a thorough check like this well in advance of actually setting off on a long trip or tour, will definitely bring to light any deficiencies in plenty of time so that you can attend to them prior to your journey. It’s a bit like giving your bike a mini MoT and it keeps you in touch with its current condition and safety.

P is for Petrol
Undo the filler cap and have a look inside the tank. How much have you got? Check the tank unions, fuel-tap (if there is one) and pipework for security. Turn the tap on if it ’s off. Check that the throttle twist-grip is free to open and that it snaps shut when you let it go. Turn the bars from lock to lock and check this at each extremity. I like to fill my petrol tank at the end of each journey. That way I’m always fuelled for the next journey.

O is for Oil
Check the oil-tank level. Check the cold level. This ensures that you are checking that there is adequate oil in the tank to safely run the engine. The true level should be checked with the engine oil hot after the engine has run for a while and can be topped up if necessary. Check over any of the external oil lines running to and from the engine crankcase for leakage. Have a quick squint under the bike for evidence of leaks.

W is for Water
Check the radiator header-tank level and run your eye over the visible radiator hoses checking for condition and the radiators themselves for anything blocking air-flow.

E is for Electrics
Switch the ignition on and check the warning light display and read the various icons. Check ‘N’ for neutral. Start your bike up and make sure the icons now all extinguish as the systems self-test and operate. ABS-equipped bikes will maintain a yellow ABS icon until the wheels revolve. This motion switches the test routine off if all is well with that system. Check your front and rear brake light operation using each control lever in turn. Check pilot, head and tail-lights and main and dip on headlights. Check left and right indicators and hazard switch. Check horn once you are rolling.

R is for Rubber
Take a good look at the condition of your tyres. Check the tread depth and take some time to look for the possibility of shards of glass, nail heads etc. becoming embedded in the tread area of your tyres. Look at the sidewalls for cuts or bulges. Check your wheel rims have no dents or bends and are in good condition. Check spoke tightness. Check your tyre pressures when they are cold and adjust them to suit for added luggage or a pillion. Check that the valves have dust-caps fitted. While you are down here, take a good, long look at the condition of the brake system. Look at the brake disc rotors and the callipers and pads. Check out the flexible brake hoses and associated pipework for security and to ensure it is all leak free. Follow the brake lines up to the control levers and fluid reservoirs and check these out too. Also, where visible, look at the ABS signal cables. Make sure that everything is in good, safe serviceable condition. Give your brake controls a little squeeze for ‘feel’ to ensure they maintain a good pressure. Once riding, as soon as it’s safe to do so, give them a little squeeze-test too in order to test their operation.

S is for Self
Check yourself out. Are you fit to ride? Are you up for this today? Is your head clear? Are you ready to concentrate? Are you focused? Are you fit and healthy and wide awake? Is your riding kit in good condition? Will you be warm enough? Remember it’s usually more convenient to remove a layer or two than it is to add them on – especially if you forgot to bring them with you! Is your visor or other eye protection clean and free from grazes and cracks? Have you got spare clear-lensed goggles should you need to ride in the dark? Spare gloves if you get very wet? Waterproofs?

If you are happy, comfortable and ready… what’s stopping you? Let’s ride!