A few years back I had the opportunity to test ride the BMW C600 and C650 GT in Spain, ahead of its Malaysian launch. It was an international test ride where journalist from all over the world was there.
One particular test rider stood out amongs the rest though.It was not about how he behaved or how he dressed but I keep noticing that he tends to rock the scooter he is on back and forth a few times throughout the day.
It looked like it was a funny way of testing the scooter’s suspension.
That night we had a chance to mingle around right before dinner and by chance I bumped into that particular tester.
A quick introduction and I went straight to the point, asking the guy whats with the rocking back and forth? Was there anything that I had missed?
Apparently no, though he said he was testing the suspension but it was not for reviewing purpose. Instead he explained that it was a habit that he picked up from his dad when he started riding.
He went on to tell me the four easy habits every biker should do before every ride. The four things does not replace the weekly bike check like fluids and lube, but an addition to it.
And, like he had mentioned earlier, it should be done before every ride and its so easy that it wont even add more than two minutes to your usual time to get ready and ride off.
Here is what he usually do –
1 – Visual check.
As he approach the bike, he’ll give it a once over while giving some extra attention to the tyres. Thread depth still ok and see also the tyre shape.
You can easily spot if the tyre is low on air due to a puncture or other reasons. Also see if the chain needs lubricating.
2 and 3 – Get on it
Got on the bike, unlock the handlebar and straighten it. Now with both feet planted on the ground and activating the front brakes, rock the bike back and forth.
By doing so he said one can spot two potential problems, the first is the front brake conditon. Is it braking or the theres slippage?
Secondly is the suspension feel, especially on the front fork. Too soft or not working as it should then you might want to visit your best friend, the bike mechanic.
4 – Start your engine.
Listen for abnormalities, sounds different from the usual then better switch it off and see whats the big fuss.
After doing all that and everything is normal, only then he will start riding.
A new question poped up in my head and that was why would one need to do it on a brand new bike like he did on that day?
He said first of all, its habit, he had been doing it for more than 30 years. And being in the business of test riding bike, you just never know that you might just get a lemon.
Secondly, say you just got a brand new bike. By doing it often since new, you’ll get used to how it feels when its working well.
The moment something is different you’ll be able to detect it before something bad happens.
So there you go, sounds logical enough for me that I started to do it too before every ride. And it already paid me back once as I managed to detect a loose tripple clamp right before I rode off.
It may take a bit of self reminding at first, but as time goes on it’ll be as normal as you putting on your safety gear.