You have your motorcycle license so you probably know all of the safety measures you need to take while riding.
But what about before you even get on the bike?
Even if you did learn everything you need to check before going out for a ride, it can be easy to forget something.
That’s why the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has the TCLOCK Inspection Checklist to help you to remember what to check before you hit the road.
What Does TCLOCK Mean?
TCLOCK stands for Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis, and Kickstand.
Essentially, it’s an easy way for you to be able to remember to check all of the main components of your bike.
Driving a motorcycle involves more risk than driving a car, so checking your bike’s vitals is that much more important.
We are going to be talking about a slightly varied version of what each of these letters means below.
Your TCLOCS Checklist For Thorough Inspection
While the common phrasing for the acronym is TCLOCK as described above, there is now a modified acronym, TCLOCS.
TCLOCS stands for Tires and wheels, Controls, Lights and electric, Oil and other fluids, Chassis and chain, and Stands.
It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but it contains extra safety measures that you should be paying attention to, so hopefully, the change will help you remember these extra steps.
Check out the checklist below to know what to look for during your inspection.
T – Tires & Wheels
The tire and wheels section covers the tires, wheels, and the brakes section of the safety check on your bike.
- Check tread depth and look for weathering of the wheel
- Look for embedded objects and bulges
- Check your tire air pressure when the weather is cold
- Check your spokes to see if they are bent and broken, or even missing
- Check the cast for cracks and dents
- Make sure the rims aren’t out of round
- Check for free play in your bearings
- Make sure your seals aren’t cracked or torn, and there is no excessive grease on the outside of the wheel
- Make sure each brake individually can keep your bike from rolling
- Check your brake pads and discs for wear and tear
C – Controls
The controls category covers the handlebars, levers, pedal, cables, hoses, and throttle safety check on your bike.
- Check that your handlebars are straight, and your handgrips are secure
- Make sure that the pedal and levers are secure and aren’t cracked or bent
- Check that any cables aren’t frayed or kinked
- Hoses should be checked for cracks, leaks, and bulges
- Double-check that cables and hoses aren’t causing any operating interference
- Your throttle should move freely with no revving when handlebars are turned
L – Lights & Electric
The lights and electric section covers the battery, headlamp, brake lamp, turn signals, switches, mirrors, reflectors, and wiring safety checklist on your motorcycle.
- Make sure battery terminals are clean, tight, and held down securely
- Check that the vent tube isn’t kinked
- Verify that the headlamp, tail lights, brake lights, and mirrors are clean and free of cracks
- Check that all lights turn on when they should
- Make sure you are able to aim your headlight height and left/right
- Check that turn signals flash
- Verify that all switches are operational
- Adjust all of your mirrors while seated to verify the field of view
O – Oil & Other Fluids
The oils and fluids category covers fluid levels and leaks.
- Check your oil while your bike is on a center stand and on level ground to make sure you are getting a proper level reading
- Check all fluid levels when the bike is cool to ensure proper readings
- Make sure all tanks are free of cracks and leaks
- Check gaskets, housings, seals, and breathers
C – Chassis and Chain
The chassis and chain category covers the frame, suspension, chain, and fasteners on your bike.
- Make sure your frame is free of cracks and there is no paint lifting
- Push and pull on the forks to check for any extra play that shouldn’t be there
- Check for play in the rear swingarm
- Check the tension of belts at the tightest point
- Make sure fasteners are tight, and there aren’t any missing bolts or nuts
- Check for missing clips and cotter pins
S – Stands
The stands section covers your kickstand and the center stand. This is the section that varies from the original TCLOCK checklist, as it is important to have safety while performing bike maintenance as well, so the center stand was added.
- Check your center stand for cracks and bends
- Make sure your center stand’s springs are in place and has tension to hold the position
- Make sure your side stand (kickstand) doesn’t have cracks or bends
- Make sure the side stand stays in place and holds bike position
- Check the kickstand pad is present and undamaged
This checklist is a summary of what you need to know. You can get the full checklist from the MSF.
The Importance of Motorcycle Maintenance
While it’s not necessarily vital to run the entire TCLOCS checklist every time you ride, it’s important to run through the full list at least monthly, and before long trips.
The list may seem cumbersome to go through, but it’s important given your increased vulnerability to injury during an accident compared to when in a car.
Whereas cars are enclosed with protective steel cages, you’re unfortunately more susceptible to bodily impact on a motorcycle. You’re also not wearing a seatbelt, so being thrown off the bike presents more of a risk.
And if you were to get hit by a car–we are talking a bike weight range of 300-700+lbs going up against a car or SUV ranging from 2,000 to 6,000+lbs–you likely aren’t going to come out the winner in that situation.
Given the added risk of injury during a motorcycle accident, this makes the importance of maintenance that much greater. Make sure to maintain your bike to avoid any extra unnecessary reason that an accident may occur.
Don’t Forget Your Protective Gear
Another important factor in your safety on a motorcycle is making sure you’re wearing the proper protective gear.
Your most important piece of protective equipment is obviously your helmet. This can prevent serious traumatic brain injuries or death, in some cases. Wearing a helmet is your choice (depending on state law), but it helps mitigate some of the risks of severe injury during a crash.
Other protective motorcycle equipment:
- Face Shields
- Over-the-Ankle Footwear
- Long clothes (jackets, pants, riding suits)
Again, while these aren’t required, it still helps in protecting you from impact with another vehicle, the road, or other objects in the event of a crash.
In The Case of a Motorcycle Accident
Even after you run your checklist and make sure you are a safe driver, accidents can still happen. You can’t control other drivers, and you can still end up an accident victim.
In the event of a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s important to get a good personal injury attorney to fight for the compensation you deserve.
You may be looking at medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Having an attorney who specializes in motorcycle accidents will make sure that all areas are covered.
VanDerGinst Law offers a free consultation. It’s our mission to put people first, so you won’t owe us a dime unless we get you compensation for your claim.
If you don’t have a claim right now, consider taking us with you in your phone, or printing our card to take with you in case you need us. Options to do either can be found below.
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