In this section of Element B you will learn about
- Basic machine checks
- The stand
- Starting and stopping the engine
Basic machine checks
You will be asked to demonstrate that you can carry out the following basic machine checks. If you don’t know how to you will be shown.
- Tyre tread depth – see more about motorcycle tyre tread depth
You will press firmly down on the front of the bike with the front brake applied and then on the back of the bike to make sure the bike ‘bounces’ up and down
You will check for firm steering and no knocking as you apply the front brake and push down on the forks. You will turn the handlebars left and right to make sure there is no grinding or crunching.
- Electrics and transmission
You will check that the lights and indicators are working properly
- Fuel and oil
You will make sure that there is adequate fuel and oil in the machine
You will check that the chain is lubricated and not stretched i.e. that there is about an inch and a half of slack
When you park a motorcycle you use a stand to support it. Motorcycles have either a centre or side stand, and many models are fitted with both.
The centre stand gives more stable support than the side stand. It also supports the motorcycle so that maintenance can be carried out. The centre stand needs to be used on a firm level surface.
To put your motorcycle onto the centre stand
- Position yourself on the left of the motorcycle, holding the left handlebar with the left hand
- Push the stand down with the right foot ( left foot, if preferred ) and hold the frame near the saddle with your right hand. Some machines have a special grab handle.
- Hold the stand down with your foot and pull the machine backwards and upwards
To take the motorcycle off the stand
- Position yourself on the left of the motorcycle. Put your left foot ( right, if preferred ) in front of the centre stand
- Hold the left handlebar with your left hand. Hold the frame near the saddle with your right hand
- Pull the motorcycle forward. As it comes off the stand move your right hand to the front brake to keep control
WARNING – If the stand isn’t fully up it could dig into the road and cause an accident.
The side stand is generally quicker and easier to use than the centre stand. It relies on the motorcycle leaning over onto the stand for stability.
Care must be taken to ensure that the
- Surface is firm enough to prevent the side stand sinking and the motorcycle falling over
- Slope of the ground doesn’t prevent the motorcycle leaning onto the stand. If the machine is too upright it will be unstable.
To put your motorcycle onto the side stand
- Position yourself on the left of the motorcycle. holding the left handlebar
- With the machine upright, push down the stand with your right foot (left, if preferred )
- Let the machine lean towards you until its weight is taken on the stand
To take your motorcycle off the side stand
- Position yourself on the left of the machine holding the handlebars
- Push the motorcycle upright
- Move the stand to its up position with your foot. Make sure it locks securely in position
WARNING – If the stand isn’t fully up it could dig into the road when you’re cornering and cause an accident. Some machines have an inhibitor switch which will automatically stop the engine if you try to ride off with the side stand down.
You will be asked to walk while wheeling your motorcycle beside you on your right hand side. You will wheel it around to the left and right probably zig zagging in and out of cones. This is to show that you have proper balance.
Proper use of brakes
Many motorcycle riders are, quite wrongly, afraid to use the front brake. This is usually because of what they learnt as cyclists. But on a motorcycle
- You must normally use both brakes
- The front brake is the more powerful of the two brakes and the most important when stopping a motorcycle
To stop most effectively in good road and weather conditions
- Apply the front brake a fraction of a second before you apply the rear brake
- Apply greater pressure to the front brake
Applying greater pressure to the front brake gives the best stopping power in good conditions because
- The combined weight of the machine and rider is thrown forward
- The front tyre is pressed more firmly on the road, giving a better grip
In wet or slippery conditions you need to apply a more equal pressure to both front and rear brakes.
Using one brake only
You’ll take much longer to stop when using only one brake. But at very low speeds, such as walking speed, using only the rear brake gives smoother control.
Start and stop the engine
To finish off Element B you will be asked to start the engine of the motorcycle you’re using and, after a few seconds, to stop it again.
Starting the engine
Some engines require a knack to make them start. The following is a general guide, but you may need to modify it to suit your machine.
To start the engine
- Make sure that the gear selector is in neutral. The neutral lamp on the instrument panel will glow when the ignition is turned on. If no neutral lamp is fitted push your motorcycle forward to see if the rear wheel turns freely
- Turn the fuel tap to ‘on’
- If the engine is cold move the choke to ‘on’
- Make sure the engine cut-out switch is in the ‘on’ position
- Turn the ignition key to the ‘on’ position
Your motorcycle is now ready to start. The next step depends on whether your machine has an electric starter or a kick starter.
- Press the starter button
- Open the throttle to give a fairly high engine speed
- As the engine warms up move the choke to off
- Fold out the kick-start lever. On some machines you’ll have to fold the footrest up before you can use the kick starter
- Place your instep on the lever and tread down sharply. Allow the kick-start lever to return to its upright position. Repeat this until the engine starts
- When the engine has started, fold the kick-start lever back to its resting position
- Open the throttle to give a fairly high engine speed
- As the engine warms up move the choke to ‘off’
Stopping the engine
This safe sequence applies to most motorcycles
- Close the throttle fully
- Make sure that the gear selector is in neutral
- Switch the ignition key to ‘off’. Take out the key in the Lock position if you’re leaving your motorcycle
- Turn the fuel tap to ‘off’, unless it’s vacuum operated
At the end of Element B you must
- be familiar with the motorcycle, its controls and how it works
- be able to carry out basic machine checks to a satisfactory standard
- be able to take the bike on and off the stand satisfactorily
- be able to wheel the machine around to the left and right showing proper balance
- be able to bring the motorcycle to a controlled halt by braking
- be able to start and stop the engine satisfactorily
You have now completed Element B. Element C Here.