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Tips for How to Clean and Inspect Your Motorcycle

Guy cleaning a Harley Davidson motorcycle

There are two types of riders: those who relish the ritual of cleaning their bikes and those who see it as a chore. Regardless of the tribe you belong to, you have to clean your bike. Not only will your bike last longer, it will run better. Yes, there’s truth to that axiom. 

When you scrub dirt and grit out of the hand levers and brake discs, you can improve their performance and extend their life. Besides, you don’t want rust forming. But, more importantly, pressure washing your motorcycle and wiping it down every few days offers you an opportunity to perform a T-CLOCS inspection.

Performing a T-CLOCS Inspection

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation uses the acronym, T-CLOCS, to guide riders through a proper pre-ride inspection of their bike. It’s one of the most important things you can do to reduce risk while riding and it’s worthwhile to make it part of your routine during the cleaning process. Safety-conscious riders who want to ride as much as possible will pick a time every week to give their bike a once over. The more regular you are about checking your bike for defects, the greater chances you have to make repairs on the fly so you can stay on the road and log those miles so you live without regret. The last thing you want is to find out on a Thursday afternoon that you’re out of commission for the weekend. 

Following are the basics of a T-CLOCS Inspection:

  • Tires & Wheels: tread depth, wear, embedded objects, brake condition, loose spokes, etc. 
  • Controls: Handlebar, levers, pedals, cables, hoses, throttle, etc. 
  • Lights & Electrics: Battery, headlamp, brake/tail, lamp, turn signals, lenses, wiring, etc. 
  • Oil & Other Fluids: Levels, leaks, faulty seals, etc.
  • Chassis Frame, suspension, belt, etc.
  • Stands Cracks, bends, spring tension

What to Look for When Cleaning Your Bike

When you’re riding your bike, your eyes are on the road and your mind is free. Unless something is obviously amiss, you’re not thinking about the machinery of your bike. Washing it is a chance to inspect parts you might not otherwise easily see.  Is anything loose, like a shift level or footpeg? When you’re cleaning your chrome, do you notice any damage to the heat shield? Washing your tires and wheels is a great time to detect a loose spoke, excessive tire wear, or a missing valve cap. 

Bottom Line on Inspecting Your Motorcycle

The folks at the Motorcycle Foundation have truly done us a service with the T-CLOCS guide. It’s easy to remember and it’s simple to work into your routine. It only takes a few minutes and it will prolong the life of your bike, help to protect you and keep you on the road. By following the T-CLOCS list, the bottom line is: if you see or touch it while you’re washing it, inspect it!

Related articles:

How to Make Your Motorcycle More Visible
Motorcycle Winter Storage Tips
Ride in High Style and Safely with a Harley-Davidson® Helmet 
Harley-Davidson® Dealership Maintenance and Repair