Any motorcyclist who has done the Motorcycle Safety Foundations Rider’s Safety Courses have had this drilled into his/her head – T-CLOCS. Okay, so you’re not a motorcyclist, but you are on a motorized two-wheeler, and it’s really okay to steal stuff from motorcyclists, especially when what they have is good for us, too.
T-CLOCS is the acronym used for riders to do a quick inventory of their scoots each time they ride to make sure they are ready and able to safely ride. Here’s what to look for. . .
T – Tires – before you hop on, make sure the tread is good, there are no bulges around the side walls, and nothing is obviously sticking out of the tire. Check the air pressure, especially if you’re going out for an extended ride. Proper tire pressure ratings are usually found wherever your manual is stashed on your scoot. Proper tire pressure is NOT what the tire says is its maximum psi (pounds per square inch) – that would be too much, and just going over a large rock could pop your tire.
Once on your bike, you may notice handling issues – a little squishy? Not much control on turn? – Check the tires. That’s 90 percent of all handling issues.
Also, on group rides, make it a habit to check out the tires on the scoot in front of you. If either look low, let your scooter buddy know.
C – Controls – Things like turn signals, brake levers, kill switch, accelerator, light switches, lights themselves (riding lights, brake and turn signals). Check that your brake levers are not loose – a loose lever means you will not get the pressure needed to stop efficiently (you might end up wetting yourself when you have to do a panic stop). Check your kill switch – once the scooter is started, hit the kill switch and make sure it turns the scooter off. Make sure your accelerator is not “sticky” – when you rev it quickly, the twist handle should immediately go back to neutral.
L - Lights – This is easy – just make sure they are working. Changing light bulbs is fairly easy on most scoots. Keep some extra on hand in case one burns out on you in an inopportune time.
O - Oil/Fuel/Fluids – When you turn on your bike, make sure all the trouble signals/gauges lights are working and turn off once the bike has “set.” If a light stays on, like for oil, PAY ATTENTION! Don’t go anywhere until you deal with it. Seriously, if you want future riding days with your beloved scoot, don’t go thinking your ride is short and you can deal with the problem later. These small little engines overheat faster, seize up more easily, and are delicate little flowers that demand your immediate attention.
If going on an extended ride, don’t trust the lights and gauges: do a visual inspection of your oil levels, coolant levels (if you have that), and fuel.
C - Chain (drive train) – This may be difficult to see on scooters – some use chains or Kevlar belts to propel the scoot, but many scooters have a direct drive shaft that you cannot easily see. If you have a belt or chain, make sure it is well lubricated and not caked in dirt. If your scoot operates on a drive shaft, be on the lookout for a lot of oil and dirt around the axel, and if so, just make sure there isn’t a crack or seal broken around the axel that may be affecting the drive ability of the scooter.
S - Side/Center stand – When your scooter is up on the stand waiting for you, does the stand wobble when you move the scoot? That’s trouble, get it tightened if want to keep your paint job looking good. There should be no wobble of the stand and only modest wobble of the scooter itself. Most smaller scooters only have a side stand. But large scooters may have two, a center and side stand. Always try using the center stand as much as possible. It is much more stable in handling weight. The side stand is particularly useful when you are on the scooter, stopped, waiting for something (like at the bank in the drive through), and you want to rest your legs a bit. But don’t depend on it to hold the scooter very well, especially if it has a load of any kind (a full luggage box, for instance).
Be careful what you ask your center stand to do as well. A fully loaded scooter with, say, camping gear or a week’s worth of groceries makes the scoot rather top heavy, so even the center stand may not hold it up. If you have to use the stand, make sure it is on very firm ground (not just packed dirt – you need cold hard asphalt, or cement), and the scoot is on level ground. My scooter speaks from experience – it’s toppled over a few times under a full load and not on the best ground conditions. Yup, the paint job on my scooter is really sucky now. . .
The idea is to get practiced at this so you can do T-CLOCS quickly and efficiently, so it only takes a minute to do before you ride. In our group rides, especially on long-distance ones, we will have everyone do T-CLOCS before we head out. Still, try to do this on your own at home, too.
Next – we’ll talk about how to handle hazards in the road.
Debbie Swanson, our Safety Officer, will provide safety tips and links from time to time. Debbie has been riding for over 10 years and was also an instructor for Master Drive for 12 years. She is a card carrying member of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation...so listen up and stay safe!