Nationwide roadside rescue and recovery operator Start Rescue is warning bikers they must take a moment to check their pride and joy before taking to the road, with more than 40 motorcyclists hurt every day on UK roads according to Department for Transport.
The DfT’s shocking statistics show that despite only accounting for one per cent of traffic on UK roads, motorcyclists made up 20 per cent of road deaths in 2020. Fortunately, fatalities are much reduced from 1979 when over 1,000 bikers lost their lives; in 2020 that figure was down to 285. Lockdown has reduced these figures further but with spring upon us, bikers are once again taking to the roads.
Start Rescue recognises that many accidents are caused not just by other motorists’ poor motorcycle awareness on the roads, but also by motorcycle owners’ poor maintenance and neglect of their machines. With summer approaching and the roads starting to dry out, many bikers are opening their garage doors and dusting off their precious two-wheeled steed.
Lee Puffett, Managing Director of Start Rescue, said: “We’re blessed with some great roads in this country, but too many bikers are left stranded by poor preparation. While Start Rescue can help recover a broken bike and rider, it’s better to be prepared. A mechanical mishap on a bike isn’t just inconvenient – it can be dangerous for the rider and other road users.”
Lee continues: “Storing a bike in a lockup or garage during winter is a sensible way of protecting it from the elements (particularly road salt) but it doesn’t guarantee reliability once the weather warms up. Old batteries can fail, even if they’re disconnected. Trickle charging can recover some batteries, but a new replacement guarantees starting on the button (or kick-starter).”
Lee understands that most bikers take great pride in cleaning and polishing their pride and joy, but there are other benefits: “A good clean can highlight any problems hidden by dust – such as leaks and perishing rubber seals or pipes. Likewise, any corrosion that’s starting to take hold will be obvious with a sponge rubbed across it. Give the chain some spray lubrication after a clean to preserve it.“
Start Rescue urges all bikers to check their tyres carefully. Firstly, the legal tread requirements for motorcycles over 50cc are a minimum of 1mm around the tyre’s entire circumference and across the centre ¾ width of the tyre. For mopeds less than 50cc, all grooves of the original tyre tread must be visible. Start Rescue recommends replacing tyres well before these limits for the sake of safety, but also because the penalty for insufficient tread depth and/or poor general condition can be up to £2,500 fine and three penalty points per tyre. If the tread depth is OK, check for any unusual or uneven wear, eg a bald patch. If the tyre itself is OK, check the pressures are correct.
Finally, consider a refresher course for safer riding. Lee says: “While it’s easy to be dismissive of road rules, accidents often hurt your loved ones more than they hurt the rider – be a safer rider for them. BikeSafe (www.bikesafe.co.uk) is a police-run scheme for post-test training. The content covers attitude, observation, cornering, overtaking, filtering, junctions, group riding, hazard awareness and the system of motorcycle control.”
Checklist for mothballed motorbikes:
- Check tyres: pressures, cracking, tread
- Check brakes – renew old fluid, check pad thickness & disc condition
- Damper condition – any leaking/bad seals, stanchion pitting and scratches
- Frame corrosion/cracking
- Check all lights
- Check fluid levels – oil, coolant, brake fluid
- Lubricate the chain
- Consider a service if the bike has been stored a long time