If you’ve ever flown in a private plane, then you’ve probably experienced first-hand the long list of checks that must be made prior to take off. It makes sense. If something goes wrong in the sky, it’s a long way back down to the ground. Similarly, riding a bike requires the successful working of many parts in order to safely haul you down the road. If you want to be sure of a successful ride, you should do a T-CLOCS inspection before you ride.
What is a T-CLOCS inspection?
T-CLOCS stands for:
Each part of the inspection includes other parts associated with the named parts. The acronym serves as a useful reminder and “checklist” for a complete inspection. Complete inspections ensure a safe motorcycle ride when performed frequently.
Tires in a T-CLOCS inspection includes wheels and brakes. It goes without saying that these items are vital to safety, but many people take them for granted until they fail. On a motorcycle, this can be harmful or deadly.
Checking the tires means checking for wear, damage, and inflation. Wear occurs over time on all tires, but it can be exacerbated by improperly balanced tires, riding on contaminated roads, improper storage, and riding on shoulders or rough roads. Damage can be caused by debris, curb shots, under inflation, and time. Check for knots and indications of sidewall separation. Lastly, the proper psi is essential for a smooth ride. Overinflated tires have less traction and create a rough ride. Underinflated tires reduce control.
Checking the wheels means making sure spokes are not damaged, and the wheel is not bent. Damaged spokes reduce the integrity of the wheel, and a bent wheel can throw the tires out of balance and make steering difficult.
Brakes should be checked for wear. Err on the side of caution when it comes to brake thickness. Replace them as soon as you think they are approaching the thinness recommended by manufacturers in your service manual.
A good tire, wheel, and brake inspection ensures that your ride will be safe and smooth. It also provides some assurance that you’ll be fine going on a lengthy trip such as a tour or an organized rally.
Motorcycle controls may not seem that important, as the world is probably not going to end if your blinker goes out. However, the “controls” part of T-CLOCS includes handlebars, cables, levers, hoses, and your throttle. Basically, it includes all the components that help you to control the bike.
The handlebars should be straight, and the grips should be secure. Levers need to move freely and as intended without warpage. Hoses should not have kinks or abrasions. The throttle should move freely, so it doesn’t get stuck and rev the engine when you aren’t trying to rev the engine. While tires are very important, the controls on the motorcycle are also very important for safety.
When you think of lights, you think of the head light, the rear lights, blinkers, and reverse lights. A T-CLOCS lights inspection also includes wiring, switches, mirrors, and reflectors. Each of these items must be in working order. This means they are intact and functional.
Search each item in the lights portion of the inspection for cracks caused by impact, wear, or age. Make sure each light is working, and make sure reflectors are still fully working. Visibility is one of the greatest ways to protect yourself from others. If your lights work, you are less likely to be hit by another vehicle.
The “O” in T-CLOCS stands for oil and other fluids. This is a basic part of any auto maintenance. You have to ensure that all fluids necessary for lubrication and function are plentiful in order to avoid engine breakdown. The primary oils you will have to check are:
- Engine oil
- Gear oil
- Hydraulic fluid
- Shaft drive
It’s not just checking the fluid levels that is important. You must also check gaskets and seals. Check for leaks to make sure that your fluid levels are stable.
The chassis of a motorcycle makes up the form of the bike. It is the frame of the vehicle. You may not think that the frame would need to be checked often. After all, you don’t typically check the frame of other vehicles. However, the frame of a bike is more fragile than your typical automobile. It is smaller, and it is stressed in a different manner.
In order to inspect your chassis, you want to look for cracks at its joints. Also, lift the front of the bike to check for unusual movement in the front forks. Check the chain or belt to make sure it is well-secured. The integrity of the chassis is essential for a safe and smooth ride. Catching failures in the chassis early not only aids in safety, but it also helps to avoid more expensive repair costs.
Lastly, your stand is an important part of a T-CLOCS inspection. While it may mostly be to protect the bike, the stand is also an important safety feature. This is especially true when they support a large bike. If a stand fails, it could harm a child or an adult standing nearby.
Check your center and your side stands for bends and cracks. Make sure the springs are strong, and make sure the bike is stable when using the stands. A tipped bike can suffer major damages, so save yourself the grief by inspecting your stands.
The Importance of a T-CLOCS Inspection
It is not a requirement to inspect your motorcycle before any ride, but it is recommended that you at least perform a brief check before every ride. This is especially true if you are new to riding. The U.S. Army recommends performing a full T-CLOCS inspection at least twice a year. Still, every rider has a different preference and threshold for security.
A T-CLOCS inspection is pretty thorough, and you probably wouldn’t ride much if you had to perform the entire inspection each day. Fluid levels and major kinks or bends are not likely to happen overnight. Still, you should regularly inspect your motorcycle to a certain extent prior to each ride.
How do you minimize a T-CLOCS Inspection? Use the acronym. When you think of tires, visually inspect the tires to make sure they look road-worthy. Make sure your lights are working. Look beneath the bike for leaks. Pay attention to how the throttle feels beneath your hand. Knowing the details of a T-CLOCS inspection greatly enhances your casual, everyday inspection.
Inspections Increase Safety
Seasoned motorcyclists get complacent at times. New riders are often over-confident. This doesn’t mean either type of rider is going to get into an accident, but it also means they might miss something. This is why having a step-by-step inspection such as T-CLOCS is essential. Nothing gets missed. Just like the pilot or co-pilot confirms his or her checklist before a flight, having a methodical method for checking your bike leads to safer outcomes. When you are dealing with safety on a motorcycle, you are dealing with life or death.