ON THE ROAD
How to increase rider safety with a motorcycle safety checklist
There’s nothing more thrilling than riding down the open road. But before you hop on your bike, keep a few things in mind to help make the roads safer for everyone.
Pre-ride motorcycle safety
Conduct a thorough motorcycle inspection before you ride to check for any faults. It may help to inspect section by section.
Something important to remember: if there’s an issue with your bike or you just aren’t sure if something’s safe, have it inspected by a professional. Don’t cut corners when it comes to vehicle, road or rider safety.
Chassis and body
This covers your bike’s frame and suspension. Check for any damage or alterations that could impact your ability to safely drive the vehicle
To prevent rough gear shifting and excessive wear, the chain should be well-oiled and taut. You can inspect the chain tension when a person of similar weight to the usual driver sits on the motorcycle.
The handlebars must:
- be straight
- have secure handgrips, and
- turn smoothly.
After that, check that the levers and pedals aren’t broken or bent.
Check that all pivot points are well lubricated – and do so regularly. Most motorists neglect this process, but regular greasing improves your bike’s performance and helps retain its value.
Check that all cables and hoses are free of kinks, frays and cracks, and make sure the throttle responds well.
Tyres, wheels and brakes
Check that the tyres have the correct air pressure and that the tyre tread depth is above 3mm. The Australian minimum is 1.6mm, but your mechanic may suggest replacing them before reaching this to ensure your safety.
If you feel any whirring, rumbling or vibrating, inspect the wheel bearing straight away.
Check for worn out brake discs and pads. If your brake pads are 2mm or less, they need to be replaced. The exact measurement can vary based on the manufacturer, so be sure to check the wear indicators, or better yet, have a professional do so. It’s also important to test your brakes — each brake alone should be able to stop your bike from rolling.
Coolant, oil and other fluids
Regularly change oil filters.
Check the levels of:
- engine oil
- gear oil
- fluids, and
Don’t try to handle the coolant when your engine is still warm.
Electricals and lights
Make sure the battery is secured, with clean and tight terminals. Remember, batteries typically last two years, even if you treat them well.
Inspect all lights and ensure they don’t have any cracks. Keeping your lights in good condition is essential, as many accidents occur due to cars failing to see motorcyclists at night.
Remember to also inspect your:
- turn signals
- reflectors, and
Be sure to check centre and side stands, ensuring they don’t have cracks or bends. They should swing freely without any resistance.
A helmet loses its integrity after even minor knocks and falls. So, avoid buying second-hand — you’ll never be certain of its history.
If you plan to wear glasses while riding, you don’t have to settle for a less protective open-face helmet. Some manufacturers now make closed face helmets suitable for people who wear glasses, so nobody needs to compromise on rider safety.
When buying a helmet, you should always check the ‘date of production’ sticker. It’s a lesser-known fact that all helmets expire after a few years, as their shock absorption capacity decreases over time.
You’ll need a leather or textile jacket. Inspect it regularly for tears. You can also buy gloves, protective motorcycle shoes, kneepads or a full body suit. You may even want to consider purchasing a hi vis vest to use when riding the motorcycle. That way, it’ll be easier for other motorists to spot you and keep you safe.
If you don’t have the gear, don’t drive. Rider safety isn’t something to be neglected. Non-protective clothing can shred in just a few seconds, leaving nothing between the rider and the road.
Rider safety questions
Each state and territory will have different recommendations and differences when it comes to road and rider safety. Check with your relevant road authority to find what may be best for your circumstance.
Are you avoiding motorcycle filtering unless safe to do so?
Lane filtering, or motorcycle filtering, is when a motorcycle travels at low speeds (less than 30km/h) through stopped or slow-moving traffic.
Each state and territory has specific criteria for lane filtering, including exclusions, so be sure to brush up if you’re crossing the borders. Motorcycle filtering can still be dangerous, so even if it is allowed in your state or territory, only do so when it’s absolutely safe.
Do you keep a buffer in your road positioning?
Buffering your road position is a crucial aspect of low-risk riding. It’s also not complicated – it’s ensuring you keep sufficient distance between you and any traffic and choosing the right position in the lane to avoid hazards.
This isn’t just for vehicles in front or behind you, but also for parked cars and fixed objects on the side of the road.
- keeping at least a three second gap behind the vehicle in front. If driving at high speeds or in adverse weather conditions, double this gap.
- changing your lane position to maintain your buffer, and
- if it’s safe and you’re able to, changing lanes to get away from tailgaters or letting them overtake you.
Are you alert and aware of road conditions?
Road conditions can change quickly. When riding, staying alert can be the best way to keep safe. A few things to keep in mind are to:
- always observe the road around you
- anticipate what may happen next, and
- respond to take action before the risk grows.
Are you riding safely through curves?
When you approach curves, consider setting your speed by backing off the throttle and braking before you start to lean. Enter turns at a safe speed so that you can effectively react if anything surprising happens – and remember to take weather conditions, like rain, into account.
You may find it helpful to position yourself so you have the maximum view of the road possible, not just for the approach, but the whole ride through.
Keeping your motorcycle safe post-ride
When you’re parking out of the home, seek well-lit areas. Use designated motorcycle parks or anchor points if they’re available.
Most motorcycle thefts occur from the home, so remember to take precautions there, too. Make sure you park out of sight, or in a lockable area like a garage.
Secure your bike from theft
There are several things you can do to protect your motorcycle against theft.
- Secure the bike with an in-built steering lock if your bike has one.
- Use a manual lock, such as a padlock or U-Lock, and secure it to an immovable object with a chain.
- Consider investing in good alarms.
- Record the vehicle identification number (VIN) – the 17-digit code that uniquely identifies the motorcycle. This can then be used to locate the bike if it’s ever stolen and resurfaces.
Consider Motorcycle Insurance
No matter how carefully you ride, you can’t totally eliminate the risk of accidents — but you can minimise their financial impact.
GIO Motorcycle Insurance offers three levels of cover:
- Third Party Property Damage, which covers damage you may cause to other people’s vehicles and property.
- Fire, Theft and Third Party Property Damage, which covers third party property damage, plus loss or damage to your own bike caused by fire (including bushfire), theft or attempted theft.
- Comprehensive, which covers third party property damage and loss or damage to your own bike — as well as a few other things, like damage to your riding gear.
All levels of GIO Motorcycle Insurance provide up to $20 million legal liability cover for damage caused by the use of your motorcycle. You’ll also have access to a 24/7 claims line, Australia-wide.
For further details, feel free to check the relevant PDS.
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This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.
The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.