Pilots perform a walk-around (a visual and mechanical inspection of the aircraft) every time they fly. You should as well—it’s called a pre-ride check, it’ll take just a minute, and it might save your life. Here’s what to look for.
TIRES Check visually first, looking for excessive damage, wear, or nails in treads or sidewalls; check pressure with a gauge at least weekly.
RIMS Especially on dirtbikes and dual-sports, inspect the spokes to make sure none are broken. Run a wrench or screwdriver over the spokes—this will emit a tone, and a loose spoke will sound different.
LEAKS Your bike shouldn’t be leaking oil, coolant, fuel, or brake fluid.
THROTTLE It should operate smoothly, without binding, and fully close under its own power.
BRAKES Pull the brake lever and depress the pedal to check for normal operation.
LIGHTS Make sure the brake, taillight, headlight, and indicators work right.
ENGINE OIL Check level and add if necessary.
FUEL LEVEL Obviously.
DRIVE CHAIN Check condition, tension, and lubrication.
CLUTCH Check for smooth operation.
CABLES Check for loose control cables.
NUTS AND BOLTS See if anything has vibrated loose or fallen off, especially before and after dirtbike rides. Give a light tug with a wrench on any known problem nuts and bolts, especially the ones located in the exhaust system.