Motorcycle Camping

Checking Over Your Bike Before and During Your Motorcycle Camping Trip

Checking Over Your Bike Before and During Your Motorcycle Camping Trip

When you are planning a motorcycle camping trip, you will likely be preoccupied with thoughts wondering what preparations to make. You have to figure out the camping equipment you will need to purchase and decide where your campsite is going to be. While it is important to remember the camping essentials, you should also be mindful about the condition of your motorcycle.

If you rely on your motorcycle as a regular mode of transportation, it is sometimes easy to take for granted how smoothly it runs. However, you should never assume every excursion is going to be uneventful. As more time passes, your motorcycle’s components may start to fail which will impede your ride’s functionality. The worst time to deal with mechanical issues is when you are driving your motorcycle on an extended outing into the wilderness.

To prevent finding yourself stranded on the side of the road, you should make time to thoroughly inspect the entirety of your motorcycle before heading out. If you discover any potential risks that your motorcycle poses, you can have them dealt with at home rather than later when you are stuck in the middle of nowhere. Of course, even after your inspection, there is still some risk of your motorcycle malfunctioning during your trip. It is better to be prepared by having the right implements handy for fixing your motorcycle or know what kinds of businesses provide services for your specific model. This article will inform you of how to maintain your motorcycle prior to and while you are heading to the campgrounds so as to make your journey as simple as possible.

1. Pre-Ride Safety Checklist:

The time it takes to assess the state of your motorcycle can be a few seconds to several minutes long depending on how carefully you examine. While it is recommended you look over your motorcycle before every drive, this practice tends to be neglected. Out of laziness or boredom, many issues with motorcycles have been missed because motorcyclists did not check out their rides long enough. There are 6 areas that should always be kept in good shape: tires and wheels, controls, lights and electrics, oil and fluids, chassis, and kickstand. This can be easily remembered with the acronym T-CLOCK.

  • Tires & Wheels:

    Scan and feel the surface of your tires to see if there are any punctures, bumps, or irregularities that could compromise their integrity. It is suggested you have a seal to cover any holes to prevent air escaping or get replacement tires. Check the tire pressure and refill them to capacity if necessary. Looking over the wheels, make sure that all the spokes are intact and straight. Spin the wheels to make sure that the rims are secure and see if any grease leaks out the seals. Press down on the brakes to make sure they apply pressure to the wheels. Squeaking or jamming will indicate they are not functioning properly.

  • Controls:

    When gripping the handles, make sure they are fastened to the front of your motorcycle and are parallel to each other when facing forward. Turn both left and right to make sure they can swerve across the full circumference. Twist the throttle while parked to see if you can safely adjust acceleration using the appropriate amount of force. Make sure that any other levers or pedals are intact and function properly when they are in use. When you turn the handles, make sure that the cables follow their movements without getting caught. The cables should be properly lubed and not be frayed at the ends. Like the tires, scan and feel the length of the hoses for any punctures. Use a seal to cover any holes to prevent air escaping.

  • Lights & Electrics:

    Check that the motorcycle battery has enough power left to last a full round trip. Clean off any accumulated substances around the battery knobs. Have the battery fastened tightly when the motorcycle is moving. Turn on your headlights, brake lights, and turn signals to make sure they are working. Also verify that they activate promptly when you push the respective brakes or levers.

  • Oil & Fluids:

    To allow the pistons, joints, and segmented components to move effortlessly, you need to refill oil and fluids to the minimum amount so as to avoid overflow and leakage. The types of oil and fluids you will need include gas, engine oil, coolant, hydraulic fluid, transmission fluid, and brake fluid.

  • Chassis

    As you take stock of the exterior of your motorcycle, look for any dents, scratches, or cracks in the surface. A good way to tell is to look for any marks in the paint or design. Check the suspension springs at the front and back of the motorcycle to see if both can absorb impact and compress fully when pressure is applied. Pull on the chain running from the engine to the back wheel to see if it is taut, that they shift seamlessly when the motorcycle is moving, and that the teeth on both the top and bottom mesh together.

  • Kickstand

    Extend your kickstand and rest your motorcycle against it. Hold onto the handles of your motorcycle in case the kickstand snaps under the weight. Make sure it can be folded and extended fully so that it can be tucked securely against your motorcycle or can lie flat on the ground.

2. Break Down While on The Road:

You will likely feel and hear that something is wrong with your motorcycle before you even see the problem. The road may get bumpy all of sudden if one of your tires pops and will make it a struggle to keep your balance. You may hear spluttering or choking sounds coming from your engine and you will begin to lose speed. If you detect any warning signs that suggest your motorcycle is breaking down, it is best to get out of the way of traffic immediately. Remember to keep a level head as you most likely will not be alone on the highway.

It is recommended that you start heading over to the right shoulder of the highway. Because exits and entrances to the freeway tend to frequent the right side, it will be easier for help to reach you. Remember to turn on your hazard lights and use your signal lights while moving between lanes. It may not seem obvious to other drivers behind or beside you that your motorcycle is suffering mechanical failure. If traffic is too heavy and your motorcycle is able to cover the distance, try to take any available exit that provides sanctuary from passing vehicles. Make sure you are a safe distance away from the edge of the road before you park and turn off your motorcycle. Make sure that you and your motorcycle are visible either by using its lights or any other means to help catch the attention of the other drivers.

Take a moment to try and find what is wrong with your motorcycle. Finding the cause will help you determine whether it is best to ask for assistance or try to fix your ride by yourself. If you choose the former, you may want to phone your insurance company to send a specialist. This is only if the company includes roadside assistance in your agreement. You could also contact any nearby vehicle rescue or towing service providers to send help to your location. If you have not gone very hard from home, try to see if any friends or family can do you a favor and come pick you up.

3. Tools To Bring with You:

If you are confident that the damage to your motorcycle is not serious enough to warrant calling for assistance, then you most likely will take matters into your own hands. Assuming you have extensive knowledge of your motorcycle’s model and how to use repair tools, you may be able to get your ride back up and running again after a quick tune-up. Aside from the camping supplies you will have packed in your luggage; you will also need the following items to restore your motorcycle if the need arises:

  • Tire Repair Kit:

    In the event you get a flat tire, a tire repair kit will help you momentarily repair the damage and fill it back up with air. Most tire repair kits are equipped with a T-handle, plugs, and CO2 cartridges. The T-handle is inserted into and opens up any holes so that the plugs can be inserted in. Plugs block the holes to prevent or slow the leakage of air. CO2 cartridges are inserted into the holes and are used to re-inflate your flat tire. Keep in mind that this is only a temporary fix as you will need to make further repairs at a later point.

  • Portable Air Compressor:

    Another way to fill up a flat tire is to use a portable air compressor. If it has a relatively full battery, it can be inserted in the tire to produce enough air to fill it back to full capacity. This is a more effective way to refill your tires compared to the CO2 cartridges since it does not have a finite supply of air.

  • Tool Bag

    A tool bag includes the necessary equipment you will need to do quick maintenance on your motorcycle if parked on the side of a road. Most tool bags include a standard wrench, an Allen wrench, a spanner, a pair of pliers, and a screwdriver. Depending on the model of your motorcycle, you may need to purchase additional handheld tools so that the heads fit the right nuts, bolts, etc.

  • Duct Tape

    If you need an all-purpose sealing agent, then duct tape is what you need. Use it to patch up the holes in your tires or hoses, keep a broken rearview mirror affixed to the front of your motorcycle, or wrap around parts of your motorcycle that are susceptible to breaking. Duct tape is sticky enough that it will stay in place without falling off even when battered by wind.

  • Flashlight

    Aside from illuminating your campsite and the inside of your tent when it is pitch black in the wilderness, a flashlight is also useful for locating damage difficult to find on your motorcycle. Because a motorcycle has segmented parts or components deeper inside its structure, the interior is obscured even in natural light. A flashlight can be angled to shed light in hard-to-reach places so you can see what you are doing during repairs.

  • Spare Bulbs

    Just like with cars, a motorcycle’s headlight and brake light can burn out due to overuse. Without either of them, you cannot relay your position or see where you are going in the dark. Plus, you may get pulled over by the police for having faulty safety features. Keep at least one backup bulb for both ends of your motorcycle just in case. They should be easy to install if either light suddenly goes out.

  • Spare Nuts, Bolts, and Washers

    The small pieces that keep your motorcycle together, it is important that they are secured so none of the larger components come apart. Occasionally, they may break due to pressure, passage of time, or being weathered down by the elements. They may also come loose and fall off while you are riding. It is good to keep spares of each in case you need to replace them.

4. Establishments That Can Help:

If your motorcycle suffers severe damage that cannot be fixed with your handheld tools alone, it may be a good idea to take a quick detour to the closest businesses that can assist. If it is possible for you to guide your motorcycle safely to an establishment in close proximity to you, try to make your way over. This will save you time that would have been wasted waiting on the side of the freeway for a tow truck to come by. The kinds of places to look out for when your motorcycle runs into trouble are the following:

  • Gas Stations:

    Aside from being where you can refuel your gas tank if your motorcycle is running low, gas stations also have machines that supply compressed air and pressure gauges to help you inflate your tires. As it is frequently visited by vehicles, this is an ideal rest stop if you want to restock on provisions or call for roadside assistance.

  • Motorcycle Parts Stores:

    If you are running low on equipment such as the CO2 cartridges or nuts and bolts, then these stores should help you resupply with the things you need to refit your motorcycle. If you find the tools that you originally packed cannot fulfill repair-related tasks you may have forgotten, you can get new ones that can handle extra pressure or fit in tighter spaces. Sizable components that have broken in your motorcycle but can be carried in your arms can be purchased here. However, you will need to find another facility with enough space for you to fix your ride.

  • Motorcycle Repair Shops:

    Full of experienced mechanics, they handle the heavy lifting by doing extensive restoration of sections in your motorcycle that you may not have experience dealing with. Services provided by motorcycle repair shops include replacing tires, chains, etc. and offering to change oils and fluids. They also can rebuild the complex components such as the engine. Keep in mind that restoring the essential parts that require your motorcycle to run will take several hours for even the best mechanic.

If you call upon professional help, make sure to have your insurance and an emergency fund ready to pay for the services needed to get your motorcycle back into working condition. Motorcycle repair shops can work in collaboration with your insurance company to figure out how to negotiate the charges accumulated during the repairs.

5. Have You Checked?

Hopefully this article has been a refresher course regarding an important responsibility that all motorcyclists need to remember: caring for the upkeep of your motorcycle. While the frequency of dealing with technical difficulties regarding your motorcycle are few and far between, it is good to have the knowledge fresh in your mind just in case. The farther away you travel from home while heading into the wilderness, the less access you may have to the resources that could help you out should you run into motorcycle troubles. That is why you have to be smart about what kind of equipment you bring and be aware of where you can turn to for aid. They can make all the difference between hopping back on your ride towards your campsite or getting lost in an unfamiliar region with no options.

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