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Pre-ride Motorcycle Safety Checks Are Important

It is funny how bikers will select just the right motorcycle helmet, motorcycle chaps or motorcycle jacket to protect their head, skin and feet before they ever think about getting on a motorbike. Nevertheless, they will just hope on their bike with out a thought of doing a pre-ride safety check.

Pre-ride motorbike safety checks are important. They insure that you make it to where you are going and back again safely and help prevent brake downs.

Over the years, I have heard horror stories about terrible motorcycle accidents because of a blown tire or a brake or suspension malfunction. Fortunately, this has never happened to anybody that I know.

On the other hand, my wife did have a break down one day because we didn’t give the bikes a good once over before we went for a long ride .

My wife Sherry rides what a lot of women motorcyclist are riding these days, a Harley Sportster 883 Low and I ride a Honda VTX1300R. Sherry didn’t like the feel of the center controls so we had forward control’s put on her motorcycle . She loved the way her Harley rode after we added the forward controls.

All was good, so one warm Sunday morning we decided to go for a motorbike ride in the country. It was a beautiful day and the ride was great . We had ridden the back roads for about 90 miles or so and then decided to head back home for lunch .

The shortest way home was to take the freeway .

As we turned down the ramp towards home it was a good thing I looked in my rear view mirror because my wife was stopped buy the side of the freeway onramp flashing her high beams like crazy .

I stopped, parked my VTX, and walked back to her to see what had happend .

As it turned out, the linkage that connects the foot shifter, to the transfer case had fallen off and Sherry had no way of riding her motorcycle .

This was a serious problem. We were ninety miles in the middle of nowhere, we didn’t want to leave a brand new Harley Davidson sitting on the side of the road and I could not leave my wife there alone sitting on her Harley while I went to try and find linkage. Although that would have been impossible because it was Sunday and none of the motorcycle shops are open on Sunday where we live.

Not all was lost though. I asked Sherry if she remembered the last time she had changed gears . She told me she had changed gears just before we turned onto the on ramp of the highway . Therefore, I went on a quest up the ramp to see if I could find the linkage and the two bolts that held the linkage in place.

“Awesome!” About half way up the ramp, I found the linkage. I was almost home. I still needed to find the two bolts that fastened the linkage on to the sportster so Sherry could shift and we could continue our ride home.

I went up one side of the highway onramp and down the other looking for the ever so elusive linkage bolts. Frustration was setting in, as I looked and I looked again for those bolts.

It didn’t help matters that two half drunk rednecks in an old 1953 faded red colored flat bed truck had stopped by Sherry and started to bother her. I think they thought better of it when Sherry told them to go do something with themselves that I am sure neither one of them had done with a women in years and they saw me walking up the ramp scowling. They drove off gesturing, I guess they though that we were number one or something.

Back to the problem at hand, I had the linkage but no bolts to put it on with . I had my motorcycle, however, it is a metric bike and Sherry’s sportster is good old American standard.

If you know anything about metric and standard bolts, they do not fit. The threads will not match up. Anyway , that didn’t stop me. I found out that the seat bolts on my VTX are just about the same size as the bolts that hold the shifter linkage for the forward controls on a Harley Davidson. The difference is the thread pattern is a bit larger. They did fit just enough though; I just didn’t crank them in.

After my discovery, it did not take long and we were back on the road heading home.

I guess the reason for this story is not to take doing a pre ride check for granted.

You would have thought that having work done on your new motorcycle by a certified Harley dealer would insure that the work would be done correctly . Well as it turned out, the mechanic that switched the controls on Sherry’s motorcycle didn’t put lock tight on the linkage bolts and after a few months of riding the bolts vibrated out.

Could the problem have been eliminated if the mechanic had changed the linkage correctly? Of course , it could have. However, it could have also been eliminated if we had taken the time and done a pre ride check.

We were fortunate that it was just a linkage that failed and not something that could have caused injury or death.

For your safety and others that might ride with you, take the extra time and do a pre ride safety check. It will save your life some day.

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