How Well Do You Check Your Bike???

by Michael Findlay | Jul 26, 2012
Over the last few years, I have learnt the hard way both from my own experience and that of others, that you cannot entirely trust mechanics to leave your bike in correct working order when you pick it up from the shop. It is important that you take a spanner to your bike before every ride and ensure that your bolts are tight

How well do you check your bike after it has come back from the shop?

Over the last few years, I have learnt the hard way both from my own experience and that of others, that you cannot entirely trust mechanics to leave your bike in correct working order when you pick it up from the shop. It is important that you take a spanner to your bike before every ride and ensure that your bolts are tight. Some personal experiences are:

Spent an astronomical amount of money having my CRF450R3 upgraded. New plastics, sticker kit, top and bottom end rebuild, new rims, tyres, bars. Essentially, a completely new bike. Trusted the mechanics had left the bike in correct working order. Took it for a quick squirt at home and everything seemed fine. First ride out and:
 - Loose bars after 15 minutes
 - Spokes continued to losen every hour of riding
 - Rim Lock was not done up correctly, so tyre spun and ripped the tube valve off.

CRF450X8 had to have an engine rebuild after a defective kick start assembly shattered inside the motor and ripped a hole in the case. Issues that followed that were:
 - First ride the head gasket started to leak. Cause was 2 stripped bolts for the head cover that happened on reassembly
 - Second ride and found that the timing chain tensioner assembly was not even on the bike, it had been forgotton on reassembly.

CRF450R10, brand new, had work done on suspension at a reputable suspension specialist. First ride out, 60km in and:
 - Chain snapped due to the back wheel not being adjusted correctly for chain tension after rear suspension was re-adjusted.
 - Triple Clamp bolts came lose to the point that one nearly fell out.

These are just a few examples. These are also examples spread out over different mechanics and shops. We all need to be aware that most of these shops will have apprentice's working on your bikes, as it is cheaper. Although everyone has to start from somewhere, the apprentice's are more likely to forget something as it is not yet second nature to them, like it is to a seasoned and experienced mechanic. Our bikes are an expensive investment, and certain things that are quick and easy to identify can be costly repair exercises if ignored. Always check your bike before you go riding. Ensure that:
 - Chain has the correct amount of slack (2 to 3 fingers should fit between swing arm and chain at the mid point)
 - Bolts holding your plastics on are all tight (these can come lose just from riding)
 - Axle bolts for front and rear wheels are tight.
 - Oil sump bolts are tight and not leaking.
 - Chain link still has the surclip on it.
 - Spokes are all firm and tight (do not over-tighten as this will buckle the wheel, just should be firm and not rattling).
 - Throttle turns smoothly and returns to start position on its own.
 - Bars are secured correctly.

Be as thorough as you can, time permitting. It really should become part of your routine when you clean your bike after a ride. The extra time to check is going to be better than the 20km you have to walk in the bush when your bike breaks down.