Every ride should be a safe one, right? And safe rides start with a short, simple check of key components. This not only helps ensure safe operation of your Honda, but also can aid in identifying issues before they become real problems. This checklist comes from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), which dubs it T-CLOCS, for Tires/wheels/brakes, Controls, Lights/electrics, Oil/fluids, Chassis, and Stands. Your owner’s manual can tell you specific items to check on your motorcycle. Let’s get started.
That means starting at the bottom with your tires. Make sure they’re properly inflated, especially important if you’re carrying luggage and/or a passenger. Check the tread surface for proper depth, and check the sidewalls for cracks or bulges. Move on to the wheels. If you’ve got spoked rims, grab handfuls of spokes to check tension—none should be loose enough to move. For cast wheels, inspect for cracks or dents. Cast or spoked, spin the wheel to ensure it’s true: There should be less than 5mm of run-out, vertically or horizontally. Grab the wheel at the perimeter and try to push/pull it side-to-side. Any movement indicates wheel bearing failure. Check the brakes to make sure they stop the wheel from spinning.
Next up are your controls. Levers and pedals should be undamaged, properly adjusted, and work freely. Cables should move smoothly, with no visible signs of fraying. Hydraulic hoses should be free of scratches, bulges, leaks, or signs of deterioration. Check the throttle to make sure it, too, works freely, and snaps back when closed.
Lights and electrics are pretty simple—everything should work. Check to make sure your headlight functions on both low and high beams, your tail and brake lights work, as well as your turn signals. At a glance, check for any frayed wiring. As well, your battery levels should be up to snuff (if your bike has a conventional wet-cell), and fully charged.
Oil and fluids are likewise easy to check, usually only requiring a visual inspection. Hydraulic reservoirs for brake and/or clutch normally have sight glasses, or the reservoirs are translucent plastic, making it simplicity itself to check for the proper level. But also look and see if the fluid is light-colored and clear. Dark, muddy-colored fluid will need replacing as soon as possible. On liquid-cooled bikes, the catch tank is also normally translucent, so you can ensure the proper level of coolant. Sight glasses are also common for checking oil level, although some bikes still use the traditional dipstick. Add oil if necessary. No leaks of any fluids should be evident.
Now take a few moments to inspect the chassis. Rotate the handlebar(s) through their movement fully. They should move freely, with no sticking, and no feel of flat spots in the steering head bearings. With the bike on its centerstand or work stand, grasp the fork legs near the axle and try to move them front-to back. Any play indicates a problem. At the rear, grab the wheel and try to move it side-to-side. Again, any movement indicates a problem, in this case with the swingarm bearings. Check chain tension, lubrication, and alignment, then inspect the rear sprocket teeth for unusual wear. Take the bike off its stand, sit in the saddle and make sure both front and rear suspensions move freely and smoothly.
Lastly, do a check of your sidestand and centerstand (if applicable). Both should be free of cracks or bends, should have their springs in place, and be able to securely support the motorcycle as intended.
That’s all there is to it. Remember, taking a little bit of time before each ride to do a thorough T-CLOCS inspection will ensure your Honda is as ready for the ride as you are.