January 18, 2020
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Safe Riding: Preparing For Riding Again

The winter is slowly beginning to depart. You’re anxious to be able to get out for the first ride. It may have been six months since the last time you rode, so for this edition of Safe Riding let’s consider a steve-bylinesimple, three-part preparation checklist: Bike, gear, and attitude.

Some people use the non-riding winter season to perform maintenance. Some wait until breaking out the bike. Take care of any maintenance items, and perform a pre-ride inspection. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has prepared a Pre-Ride Inspection that includes tires and wheels, controls, lights and electrics, oil and other fluids, chassis, and stands. This is easily remembered by their acronym T_CLOCS. Here is a link to a handy checklist.

Our gear needs periodic maintenance and inspection, too. Look for any damage or signs of significant wear. Textile riding gear, especially those with a waterproof membrane, should be washed and treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) per the manufacturer’s instructions. There are special cleaners and conditioners for leathers as well. Zippers, snaps and other fasteners should be inspected for proper operation and adjusted or lubricated as needed.

I’ve saved the most important for last: Adjust your riding attitude.

It is especially important to work on your 360-degree awareness. Be on the lookout for any hazards that can make for a bad day of riding. Actively scan for drivers who have probably forgotten that they need to be looking for motorcyclists. Assume “they” are out to get you and be over cautious. Be careful of roadway hazards. This was a fairly harsh winter and there are many potholes. I’ve seen some that would swallow a motorcycle wheel and could do some serious damage. Watch for sand on the road left over from winter treatment or from runoff due to spring rains.

About Steve Smith

New York native and Waterbury, CT-area resident Steve Smith is a nationally-certified Motorcycle Safety Foundation Ridercoach and  instructor with the Connecticut Rider Education Program. He began riding off-road as a youth and on-road at age 20 with a Honda CB400T. He currently rides a 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14. Smith is a graduate of Fairfield University with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a Masters in Management of Technology.