Pre-Ride Check List for Newbie Riders

With the excitement of learning how to ride comes the responsibility of managing one’s safety; and a pre-ride inspection is probably the easiest way to do that.

– Vuyi Mpofu, editor, heels & horsepower magazine

Doing a pre-ride inspection helps you discover potential problems and gives you an opportunity to attend to them before they become major, life threatening issues.   Experienced riders might have a quicker way of getting through a pre-ride check list but for us newbies, it is best not to take short-cuts.  

Walking right round my motorbike and giving it a good looking over is the first step towards ensuring my safety.

vuyi mpofu, editor, heels & horsepower magazine


My pre-ride routine is a little detailed and adds 20 mins to my total ride time but I wouldn’t skip it for anything.  Coupled with wearing proper riding gear each time I climb onto the saddle checking my ride before hitting the road gives me a lot of confidence.  

Here is my pre-ride routine:

1. I walkabout the bike 

As simple as this sounds, walking right round my motorbike and giving it a good looking over is the first step towards ensuring my safety.  I look out for:

  • Loose wires and that all lights are securely fastened
  • Dangling parts from any part of the bike 
  • Fluid seepage on the ground (engine oil, brake fluid, water etc)
  • Fluid leaks from engine parts e.g. fork seals and brake callipers
  • Nails and other foreign bodies embedded in the tyres
  • The correct tyre pressure
  • Dents in the rims
  • The chain and that it is well lubricated and is of the proper tension
  • The proper functionality of the engine kill switch 


2. I sit on the bike without firing up the engine

I check that the various features needed for a safe ride feel and function normally.  These are:

  • Side Stand: I check that it engages and disengages smoothly and that it ‘locks’ into place once it has been kicked up at the start of a ride.
  • Throttle: By rolling it back I check for good movement and that it springs back properly.
  • Front Brake & Clutch: By pulling on the front brake and clutch I ensure a smooth range of motion
  • Rear Brake: Stepping on the rear brake indicates correct pressure and setting.  ‘Hard’ brakes are just at dangerous as ‘soft’ brakes. 

Lastly, with the side stand down for safety and the bike upright, I swing the handlebars from side to side to check for any free play.

3. I fire up the engine 

Firing up engine, I listen for any abnormal engine sounds which would indicate a mechanical issue, then check that the lights (including stop lights and headlight high beam), indicators, horn and other controls work optimally.  

The 800m distance from the parking spot to my front gate gives me adequate time to further listen to the engine as well as focus on any vibrations I get from the bike.  

One of the most important safety checks which I admittedly only remember once I am on the road is checking my fuel gauge. Thankfully I have never had to make a dash to the nearest fuel station on foot.  Not only would it be somewhat embarrassing but I would look mighty weird bobbing down the road in my heavy-duty adventure boots with helmet in one hand and fuel in the other.