Listen to the podcast
If you’ve read the MSF Basic Rider Course handbook, or if you’ve watched a lot of motorcycle-related videos on YouTube, you’ve probably heard of T-CLOCS.
Out of all the pre-ride inspections, this is one of the most common ones, as well as one of the easiest to remember.
Tune in to discover:
- What T-CLOCS stands for
- How to do a full T-CLOCS inspection – one letter at a time
Hello and welcome to the 30 Minute motorcycling – a podcast for new, aspiring and returning riders, where you’ll learn about motorcycle and other two-wheelers in less than 30 minutes.
If you’ve read the MSF Basic Rider Course handbook or if you’ve watched a lot of motorcycle-related videos on YouTube, you may have encountered the acronym T-CLOCS.
That’s T C L O C S – and it stands for:
tires, wheels and brakes
lights and mirrors,
oil and fluids
OK, so now you know how to spell it and what it stands for. But what is a T-CLOCS exactly? Essentially, it’s a pre-ride mechanical inspection that you should do before every ride.
But don’t worry – you don’t have to be a qualified motorcycle mechanic – it only takes a minute or two.
We’ll go through each inspection, what you should do and the things you should look out for, beginning with T for “tires, wheels, and brakes”.
Since your tires are what keeps you on the road, ensuring that they’re in good condition is vital.
So the first thing you want to check is the check the tires’ overall condition.
Specifically, check for cracks, abnormal wear, and any visible cracks or dry rot in the sidewall.
If you see any dry rot, replace the tire before you ride. If you ride on a tire with dry rot, you run the risk of a blowout.
Once you’ve determined that your tires are fine, check their tire pressure. All you have to do is slide a pressure gauge over each tire’s filling knob.
Then, verify that the gauge’s reading corresponds with the recommended figure in your owner’s manual.
Underinflated tires could cause anything from increased tire wear to increased risk of wobbling.
On the other end of the spectrum, if your tires are overinflated, you’re in for an uncomfortable and stiff ride.
Then, check the tire tread depth with a tread depth gauge.
The legal thread requirement may vary depending on the country you’re in, but as a general recommendation, you should have at least 3mm of tread depth.
Once you’ve verified that your tires are inflated properly, check that there aren’t any kinds of items like screws, stones or any other kind of sharp objects lodged in your tires.
After you’ve inspected the tires, move on to the wheels.
Regardless of what kind of wheels your motorcycle has, you should ensure that they have no cracks.
Also, if your bike has spoked wheels, inspect for dull spokes by giving each one a light tap with a spanner. If you hear a ding sound, then the spoke is fine.
If you don’t, that spoke needs to be tightened.
Finally, check your wheel bearings. You can do this by grabbing the top and the bottom part of the tire and flexing them together. If you hear a “clicking” sound when you do this, your wheel bearings are broken.
After that’s done – put a spin on your wheel and listen to any “growling” sounds – if there are no such sounds, you’re fine.
With the tires and wheels inspected, it’s time to check your brakes. In addition to checking your brake pads and discs for cracks, you also want to check your front and rear brakes independently and together.
Both the front brake lever and the rear brake pedal should feel firm as you apply them – if they feel spongy, you might need to either need to check your brake fluid reservoir.
Let’s move on to “C” – as in “C” for controls. As most of them are found on your handlebars, start by making sure that the motorcycle’s handlebars are straight and sturdy.
Then check your steering head bearings by turning the handlebars to the right and the left – when you do this, there should be no resistance.
Inspect your hoses and cables around your clutch and front brake for any leaks, cracks, or chafing. Also, make sure that the cables lubricated – consult your owner’s manual for more information.
Next, toggle the engine cut-off switch to “off” – the engine should shut off at once.
With the engine still switched off, check that the throttle handle spring works by pulling it towards you and then releasing it – if all’s well and good, the throttle handle should spring back to its original position.
If only the other hand, the throttle doesn’t spring back or if springs back very slowly, it might be sticky – if this is the case, whatever you do, DON’T ride your motorcycle in this condition – have it towed to a mechanic immediately.
Lights and Mirrors
Let’s move on to “L” – as in L for “lights and mirrors.” Check that the main headlight has no cracks and that the full and low beams come on without any issues.
You also want to check that the indicator lights and the brake light come on by using the turn signals and by applying the brakes, respectively.
But there’s more to the lights than your headlights and indicator lights – there’s also the battery. Check that the battery terminals are clean.
Next, check the wiring for chafing or missing insulation.
As for your mirrors, make sure that they are clean, free from cracks, and fastened and aimed properly.
Oil and Fluids
Next, we have “O” for oil and fluids.
Check that the oil level is topped up. Depending on the motorcycle you have, this is done with either a dipstick or sight glass on the side.
If your motorcycle has a sight glass on it, it’s crucial that the bike is in an upright position before you checking the oil level. If it’s leaning to the side, you might get an incorrect reading.
While you’re checking the oil level, verify that the oil isn’t sludgy. If that’s the case, it will have a slightly brownish shade.
Do the same level checks for your
- Brake fluid
- Transmission fluid
- Hydraulic fluid
If you’re motorcycle’s electric, check that the battery is sufficiently charged.
Now we get to the second “C” in “T-CLOCS” – i.e. chassis.
With the chassis – check that there are no missing bolts or screws from the motorcycle’s frame.
If your motorcycle’s chain drive, you also want to check that the chain is lubricated and that it has enough chain slack – typically this is between 20-35 mm. Check your owner’s manual for more information.
Also, check that the sprockets aren’t worn – if they are, they will have a shape like a shark fin.
If your motorcycle is belt-drive, check that the belt is tight and in good condition.
Finally, compress the front and rear suspension – the suspension travel should feel smooth.
Finally, we have S for “Stands”. Check that your kickstand spring into place and that it supports the bike’s weight when it springs into place – and while you’re at it, verify that the kickstand doesn’t have any cracks or abnormal bends.
Do the same checks for your center stand, if your bike has one.
So there you have it – that’s how you do a T-CLOCS inspection.
Perhaps that was a little bit too much to take in?
If that’s the case, don’t worry – to make sure that you ace your next pre-ride inspection, I’ve got an interactive T-CLOCS checklist that you can keep on your smartphone wherever you go.
You can download this checklist by clicking on the link in the shownotes or by visiting dualwheeljourney.com.
And that concludes the second episode of the 30 Minute Motorcycling Podcast. If you enjoyed listening and learned something new, remember to leave a review and share this episode.
Until next time, keep your helmet on and your eyes on the road. Bye!