There are two distinct types of motorcycle inspections that riders need to know about. The first is the inspection that some states require for you to legally ride the bike on public roads. The second is the personal checklist you should go through to ensure that your bike is ready for spring riding and safe for operation. Here is everything that you need to know about your motorcycle inspection and why both types are so important.
Unless you live in Alaska, Iowa, Minnesota, Arkansas, South Dakota, South Carolina, or Montana, you are probably required to have your motorcycle inspected in order for it to be registered for legal riding on public roads. We consulted with Motor Biscuit's page, to learn more about the requirements. We discovered that the state you live in determines the type of inspection that is required to make sure that the bike is street legal for the area in which you're riding. The laws are not standardized among the states so you may want to consider the places you ride and make sure that you meet the minimum legal requirements for each state or you could be pulled over and cited for any infractions of the local laws.
What are the common motorcycle inspection factors?
Some of the statutory regulations for motorcycles are the same across the board. Although you should always check with the individual state requirements, we are aware of some of the most common factors that inspectors will look at when inspecting your bike. The first is mirrors. Most states with inspection requirements insist that a motorcycle must have a mirror. While some states are vague about the type and placement, some are detailed and require right and left mirrors.
A red lighted taillight is another common requirement. The light must be powerful and bright enough to be seen from 200 feet to the rear as a safety precaution for riding in traffic. The state of Maryland has even more stringent laws about lighting. The headlamp must be bright enough to be seen from variable distances depending on how fast you're driving. The registration plate must also be illuminated.
Most states require a minimum of one brake on your motorcycle. Bikes that were manufactured after 1973 must have a brake in the back and one in the front. Older bikes are only required to have one brake in most states requiring inspection.
The state of Nevada requires a minimum of one headlight but you can't have over two. The rear light must be red and you must have a rear reflector as well as fenders over both wheels. Washington State requires that motorcycles 25 years old and newer must have right and left side mirrors with a full view of the highway for 200 feet or more. The handlebars and grips may not be over 30 inches higher than the seat. The laws are subject to updates so it's wise to consult with the inspection requirements for the state you live in.
Personal bike inspection
Even if you live in a state that doesn't require motorcycle inspections, it's a good idea to inspect your bike to make sure that everything is in working order before you fire it up for a spring run. Cycle Fish provides some useful tips on how to go about inspecting your bike. They let us know some of the most important things to cover. Whether you've had the bike in winter storage or you've been riding it all year long, a periodic inspection is wise for keeping the bike in good condition and ensuring your personal safety on the road. While each brand and model will have variations, there are some common factors to consider for personal bike inspections.
Check out the basic systems of the bike
Start with an inspection of the electrical system. Begin with the battery. The battery should be in good working condition with clean connections. You can use a solution of water and baking soda with an old toothbrush you plant to discard to remove all corrosion from the terminals and connections. The ground cable should be tight and clean at both ends. Inspect the wiring to make sure that there are no breaks in the wires or signs of wear. Test the headlight with high and low beam, the tail and brake light, the turn signals, the driving and instrument lights, and the horn. Also, inspect the starter mounting bolts and connections. The fuses in the fuse box should be tight and in good working order. It's wise to carry a few spare fuses in case they burn out.
The condition of your motorcycle fluid is vital for the proper operation of the bike. This includes oil and transmission fluid. When the fluids are dark or black, or if there is a burnt smell, they need to be changed. This includes the oil and the filter. A periodic inspection of the fuel screens, filter, and lines can identify an issue before it turns into a problem. Check the lines for dry rot and chafe, and replace if necessary. Check the coolant level in water-cooled engines and give the flow pump and hoses a once over.
Brakes are a necessity for safety whether driving on or off-road. Check the level and pedal travel. Make any necessary adjustments while consulting the owner's manual to get the proper specs. The master cylinders should be clean and keep the level of brake fluid at the recommended lelves. Inspect the brake lines if signs of wear, leaks, or cracks. The pads and liners should also be inspected and replaced as recommended in your owner's manual. If you're not comfortable doing this on your own you can take the bike into a service center for a professional inspection.
Inspect the wheels and tires
Examine the rims of the wheels for any sign of damage including cracks or dents. Spokes should be tight. The axles, axle nuts, and hardware should be tight. The bearings may be lubed to prevent excessive wear. The drive chain or belt should also be inspected for wear. if necessary replace them. Check the tread on the tires for cracking, dry rot, and depth. If the tires show signs of excessive wear they should be replaced. Also, inspect the value stems for rim cuts and dry rot, as well as the sidewalls for cuts. The air pressure should be tested to ensure that they are not under or overinflated.
Simple Motorcycle inspection checklist summary
Allstate simplifies the motorcycle inspection process by summarizing it up in a checklist. Recommendations by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation include using the T-CLOCS system for periodic motorcycle inspections. The acronym is easy to remember. T is for tires and wheels. C is for the controls. L is for the lights and electrical system. O stands for oil and other bike fluids. C is for the chassis and S is for the stands. These are the areas that you should routinely inspect to ensure your riding safety and enjoyment.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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