A well maintained bike is a safe bike, and it is for this reason that the so-called P.O.W.D.E.R.S.S. checks are a vitally important part of safe riding, allowing you to spot small problems before they become big problems. Here we take a closer look at these all important checks
Stands for Petrol, Oil, Water, Damage, Drive, Electrics, Rubber, Steering, Suspension. Think of them as your "pre-flight" check.
Not only check if you have enough fuel for your journey but also consider the following. If you decide to lay your bike up for a long period of time, “brim” your tank to the top with fuel. Petrol unlike other fuels is extremely cold; when it sits in a metal container (your tank) it will generate condensation which in turn will mix with the petrol. As everyone knows water mixed with petrol is a very bad thing and will seriously damage your engine. A lot of people lay up their bikes over the winter period in a cold garage and leave just a small amount of fuel in the bike’s tank; a very bad thing to do.
Check the oil level to make sure it is at the correct height either by a dipstick or a spy glass in the side of the engine casing. Remember to have the bike on its centre stand, use a paddock stand or get someone to sit on the bike to keep it vertical. Remember over filling an engine with oil is much worse than letting the level drop below the minimum mark. An over filled engine will blow oil seals everywhere around the engine and will cost loads to rectify.
If you have a water cooled engine check the level of the coolant again with the bike on its centre stand or with the bike totally vertical. If the level is low remember not to use tap water. Always top up with a mix of distilled water and anti-freeze. Anti-freeze not only keeps the coolant from freezing in the winter but also helps to stop your bike from over-heating in the summer. Don’t only check the water level but also check the anti-freeze mix. You can buy a handy little tester from Halfords that measures the amount of anti-freeze present in the coolant mix; the gadget only costs a few pounds.
Check over your bike totally for damage not only to fairings but also light lenses, brake and coolant hoses, cracks to the bike’s frame, missing fairing bolts, dents to the wheel rims from pot holes, loose brake caliper bolts from vibration, cuts or brakes to the wiring harness and most importantly damage to your crash helmet. If you accidentally drop your lid or if it falls off your seat then don’t wear it until you have a specialist examine the helmet. Whilst focusing on helmet security, always try and take your helmet with you when away from your bike, you never know what can happen to it! When you do leave your helmet with your bike place it between the clip on handle bars, it won’t roll off the bike and the bike’s screen will protect it from the rain. The other option is to place your gloves on the floor with the palms facing down and put the helmet on top.
Do a visual check of the chain and lube if required. Shaft drive – check for leaks
Complete a full lights check before a ride remember to check both the foot and hand brake switches. Give the horn a quick blip and if you are planning to lay the bike up for a while during the Winter, it’ll be worth buying a trickle charger.
Your tyres keep you in contact with the road so make sure you look after them. Check the tyre pressures when the tyres are cold because the pressure will read higher when the tyres are hot. Also place a bit of spit on your finger and smear it into the valve to ensure the valve is not leaking air bubbles. Obviously check the tread depth of both tyres and clear out any small stones from between the tread pattern. The minimum tread depth for motorcycle tyres in the UK is 1.0mm. Visually check both walls of each tyre to make sure there are no cracks starting to form due to lack of use or age. If you are going to lay the bike up for more than a month on a cold concrete floor, place a piece of carpet under both tyres because cold concrete with draw silica oil out of the rubber of the tyres and reduce the performance on the tyre
Make sure everything is working smoothly, check the dampers are working, check the brake levers and their action.
We have touched on laying the 'bike up during the Winter. You might only ride once infrequently, say every six weeks in the winter months and given that the new fuel with 5% ethanol alcohol (same ingredient as anti-freeze, which is basically alcohol. Alcohol attracts moisture from the air which will eventually start to corrode the inside of the fuel tank) attracts water and causes serious misfires (or no-starts) after about 6 weeks of non-running storage, it also ruins fuel lines, gaskets, fibreglass tanks, and carb parts and forms a white gel-like acidic gunge that clogs and eats away fuel lines, filters, carb venturi's etc. If you fill the 'bikes tank to the brim, there will be no air gap at the top which in turn means no place for moisture to collect, and leaving a bike for six weeks is not an issue at all; you might consider trying out a fuel additive such as Putoline ® fuel stabilizer (£14.71 for a 325ml can) see link -
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