One of the most important things you can do to reduce your riding risk is to inspect
your motorcycle every time you ride. By following the "T-CLOCS" checklist, it's easy to
remember what to check. It only takes a few minutes – and could make the difference
between an awesome, enjoyable ride and a frustrating roadside debacle.
Doing basic maintenance yourself can save you time and money in the long run, but
don't venture into the land of do-it-yourself if it's not your natural habitat. The risks just
aren't worth it. If you are the least bit unsure about any of the procedures mentioned
below, see the experts at your local Harley-Davidson dealership.
Tires and Wheels
Inspect your wheel rims for dents and cracks. Make sure that the spokes are tight and
straight. Check tire pressure often – daily when you are touring – and always use a
good gauge. Consult your owner's manual for correct pressure and load rating. Air
pressure can change with the air temperature.
While you're at it, inspect the tires. Remove any objects stuck in the treads that may
cause a puncture. Check for sufficient tire tread. Replace them if less than 50 percent
of the tread remains, or if there are any cracks, cuts, or signs of distress. (Tires
should be changed by your dealer. They are expertly trained to replace tires and to
inspect your wheels.)
TIP: If you strike an object, such as a curb, at speed, severe internal tire damage may
result which is not visible from the outside. In such a case, have your dealer remove
and inspect your tires.
Even one pound of difference in tire pressure can make a difference in how well your
bike handles and performs. For a precise measure, be sure to use a quality gauge,
such as this one, available from your Harley-Davidson dealer.
Cables and Controls
Next you'll want to check the controls to be sure they operate properly. Inspect the
front and rear brakes, throttle, clutch, and shifter. Squeeze the clutch to feel if it is
operating smoothly. Squeeze the front brake; it should feel firm and keep the
motorcycle from rolling forward when pushed. Check the rear brake in the same way.
Replace broken, worn, or frayed cables at once.
TIP: Visual inspection of brake pads can be made without removing the caliper by
viewing each caliper with a flashlight. Check your owner's manual for acceptable
minimum brake pad thickness. (Note: Always replace brake pads in pairs.)
Check your headlight(s), directional signals, tail light, and brake light every time you
ride. Not only do they help you see where you're going, but they are your best way of
being seen by others. If a light is out, it is often easy to change it yourself. Consult
your owner's manual and/or service manual for correct type, and removal and
replacement procedure. If replacing a headlight, consult your owner's manual for
proper headlight alignment.
TIP: If your turn signal indicator light is on but not flashing, check the bulbs. It may
simply be a burned out bulb in one signal that is causing the other signal (and the
indicator light) to not flash.
Oil and Fluids
Start by checking your fuel supply. Check the engine-oil level according to the
instructions in your owner's manual. Harley-Davidson® motorcycles are designed to
make oil changes easy. (If you do it yourself, don't slack off on the maintenance
schedule. And make sure the old oil is properly disposed of. It should be sealed in an
approved container and taken to a legitimate oil disposal facility.)
You can double the life of your battery by checking and correcting its water level
regularly. However, since the 1999 model year (and longer for some models) all H-D®
and Buell® motorcycles have sealed,
If you have an older model, consult your owner's manual for the proper battery
maintenance procedure. For those who can't ride as often as they'd like, install a
battery charger with a convenient disconnect. If you travel often, for instance, the
charger will help you avoid a dead-battery homecoming.
Check for any fuel, oil, or hydraulic fluid leaks. Give the cases and lines a once-over
to make sure there are no leaks.
TIP: Engine oil is a major factor in the performance and service life of the engine –
especially when temperature extremes are involved. Base your choice of engine-oil
grade on the lowest temperature you expect to experience before your next oil
change. Consult your owner's manual for exact recommendations.
We care about you. When riding your Harley-Davidson® motorcycle be sure to ride
safely, respectfully and within the limits of the law and your abilities. Always wear an
approved helmet, proper eyewear and protective clothing and insist your passenger
does too. Never ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Know your Harley®
and read and understand your owner's manual from cover to cover. Enroll in a rider
Inspect the chassis for cracks at gussets and accessory mounts. Check the steering
for smoothness by turning the handlebars through the full operating range. Test the
suspension for smooth, damped movement, and be sure to adjust it according to the
load you're carrying and your riding style (consult your owner's manual). For high-
mileage bikes, inspect the drive belt and sprockets.
TIP: If your Harley-Davidson motorcycle is equipped with an air-adjustable rear
suspension, a good rule of thumb is to add three pounds of pressure to the rear
shock for every 10 pounds of additional weight (passenger or cargo). Just be sure to
check your owner's manual for your bike's upper limit.
Check for cracks or bending in the metal, and make sure there's enough tension in
the spring to hold it up and out of the way when riding. A dangling stand is a real
Also, before you start riding, sit on your bike and take a look in the mirrors to be sure
they're adjusted properly. Even if you don't think you've moved the mirrors, do a quick
check just to be sure.
TIP: Your sidestand can easily sink into soft soil or hot asphalt. To avoid a potentially
hazardous situation, consider carrying a small flat block of wood with you at all times to
place under the sidestand when parking your motorcycle on dirt or asphalt.
Before the Road Bike Inspection