Regular maintenance of your motorbike or scooter is vital if you want to stay a safe rider - and the place to start is always with the tyres.
They're the only parts of the bike touching the road and without them being in pristine condition, no matter how safely you ride, you'll always be in danger.
You need to check them regularly. In order to get the best performance from your bike, including handling, braking, acceleration and lower fuel bills, make three important weekly tyre checks.
- First, check that they are inflated to the correct pressure, which can be found in your bike or scooter/moped handbook. Under-inflated tyres will wear out quicker, provide less stability and are at greater risk from overheating and suffering a rapid failure. Remember, different bikes will need different pressure so learn what your bike needs, not what your mates think is okay for their bikes.
- You should also check the condition of your tyres, looking for cuts, lumps or bulges. The tread area should also be inspected to see if stones, nails or other objects have become embedded. If the tyre shows any of these signs, it should be checked immediately by a qualified tyre professional.
- Finally, to ensure proper grip, especially in wet conditions, you should check that your tyres have sufficient tread depth. Scooters of less than 50cc need to have all of the grooves of the original tread pattern visible whereas those over 50cc must have at least 1mm of tread depth across the central three quarters of the tyre with visible tread on the remaining quarter.
TyreSafe, a tyre campaign group, has come up with a simple acronym to help you make a PACT with your tyres:
P – Performance, including grip, handling and fuel economy will all be improved with correct tyre care.
A – Air pressure is essential for optimum performance. Pressures should be checked at least once a week using an accurate pressure gauge.
C – Condition is critical to road safety. Inspect tyres for any bulges, cuts, uneven wear or objects embedded in the tread.
T – Tread depth is essential for safety on wet roads. Check that your tread depth is not below the legal minimum of 1mm (for bikes over 50cc).
See more info at www.tyresafe.org
Other key tips to bike maintenance include:
- Making weekly checks on the brake pads to make sure they aren't worn and that the gear chain is clean and free of mud or other road debris.
- Check the chain tension; if it's incorrect you'll suffer from snatchy transmission and ruin your gearbox. The manufacturer’s handbook will show you how to adjust the chain.
- It’s easy for lights and signals to become dirty, particularly if your riding in poor weather. That's why it's important you clean your motorbike or scooter at least once a week. Use a good quality car shampoo - not washing up liquid, as it can damage the bodywork and leave a dull shine. However, take care if hosing the bike down afterwards; you can damage sensitive equipment like the bearings and the electrics. Better to rinse off with warm water.
- In addition, every 250 miles/month check the oil and battery level, and test the lights and horn.
- Every 1,000 miles, or twice a year, change the engine oil and check all valves for cracks. It’s a good idea to test all nuts and bolts and tighten as necessary.
- Get your bike or scooter serviced every 12 months at a respected dealer or garage and keep your service book updated.