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Motorcycle Extensive Pre-Travel Inspection

“Failing to plan is planning to fail” Franklin once said couldn’t be any true when it comes to preparing the motorcycle for traveling. While we are accustomed to performing daily routine checks such as oil levels before every ride (oh well, we should) - when it comes to a longer trip ahead of us more extensive checks are needed. These are the checks we perform on our motorcycles before any rental to ensure our guests have a safe and enjoyable trip. In this article, we will talk you step by step through those checks and we hope it will be useful for you in your own bike trips too.

Those of you who are familiar with MOT guidelines (or variations of those in other countries) might recognize some of the items - indeed, the MOT checks were those which inspired our checklist too. But we have added some more to make it more complete and also eliminated those which can’t be performed without special equipment (e.g. the brakes rolling test or emissions).

Part 1: Brakes

Brake Lever/Pedal Operation:

Check smooth operation of the front brake lever and rear brake pedal. The “bite” of the brake should be progressive and firm. There should be no “sponginess” feeling either in the level or the pedal.

Brake fluid level:
On most bikes there is a sight glass for the front brake fluid level at the extension reservoir at the lever side of the brake - ensure the level is within the marks.

For rear brake, check the fluid level at the extension reservoir - usually located on the right side of the bike somewhere above the rear brake pedal.

Brake pads:

Check the condition of the pads. On most pads there are wear marks and as soon as the pad thickness reaches that mark the pads should be replaced.

Brake discs:

Check the condition of brake discs. There should be no obvious damage or warpage. Older discs might have some grooves in them. If you have a micrometre you should measure the discs thickness and ensure those are within the limits. Check the brake discs bolts to ensure none are missing.

Brake hoses:

Check brake hoses for any signs of possible damage or leaks.

Part 2: Steering/Handling

Steering operation/bearings:

Lift the front wheel off the ground and turn the handlebar from left to right full lock. The steering should be smooth without any kinks. The handlebar should reach full lock positions without any interference from the cables or contact of items like handguards with any parts of the bike (e.g. fairings or windscreen).

Handlebar condition:

Make sure every control element located on the handlebar is tightened securely. There should be no obvious damage to the handlebar.

Part 3: Lighting and Electrics


Ensure the headlight is operational both on low beam and full beam. Point the motorcycle on the wall and ensure the light patch is the same in shape as expected. If any doubts, perform the full headlight alignment check.


All four indicators are operative individually and in hazard lights mode.

Tail light and brake light:

The tail light is illuminated when the ignition is on. The brake light is illuminated when pressing the brake pedal or operating the front brake lever.

Battery terminals condition:

Check battery terminals for any signs of contamination or rust. Check the battery terminals bolts are tight.

Battery voltage:

Using a multimeter, check the voltage of the battery with the ignition off. The acceptable range is 12.0V to 13.2V with the ideal range between 12.5V to 12.9V.

Battery charging current:

With the engine running measure the battery charging voltage using the multimeter. The range should be 13.5V to 14.5V.

Honk operation:

Operate the honk switch to ensure it is working.

Part 4: Fluids

Oil level:

Warm the engine up. Then switch the engine off, wait a few minutes and measure the oil level in the bike as recommended in the owner’s manual. For most bikes, it means measuring the level using sight glass when the bike is in a vertical position with both wheels on the ground.

Coolant level:

Check the coolant level in the expansion reservoir according to the owner’s manual instructions. For most bikes, it means checking the level when the engine is cold and the bike is in a vertical position.

Part 5: Wheels, tyres and suspension

Wheel bearings:

Lift the wheel off the ground. Spin the wheel to ensure it’s spinning freely without any obvious interference. Then grab a wheel at the opposite ends and try to rock it perpendicular to the bike’s longitudinal axis (i.e. from side to side). There should be no movement.

Tyre condition:

Check tire condition for any sights of damage. Measure the thread depth using the special tool or - failing that - using the wear marks in the thread.

Tyre pressure:

Adjust the tyre pressure according to the manufacturers’ specifications.

Rims condition:

Check rims for any possible sight of damage, cracks etc.

Front suspension operation:

Operate the front suspension ensuring smooth compression and rebound. Check the forks and crown for any signs of mis-alignment.

Fork seals:

Check the fork legs for any signs of fork oil leakage.

Rear suspension operation:

Check the operation of the rear suspension to ensure smooth compression and rebound.

Suspension links:

Visually inspect all suspension links to ensure no damage or deformation. Ensure all bolts are in place. 

Part 6: Structure, Transmission and Fuel systems.

Frame visual inspection:

Inspect the exposed elements of the frame with the torch to ensure no damage or cracks are visible.

Fuel filling cap operation:

Ensure the fuel tank cap can be easily opened, closed and locked.

Chain and sprockets condition:

Check the chain and sprockets condition visually. Chain should be clean and well lubed. Check sprocket teeth for signs of wear or deformation (those shouldn’t look like shark fins).

Chain slack:

Adjust chain slack as per manufacturer’s specification, when the bike is on it’s side stand.

Gear shifter operation:

Ensure the gear shifter operates smoothly. Check the condition of the rubber pad on the shifter.

Sidestand condition/operation:

Ensure the side stand can be put down and up smoothly. With the bike engine running, shift into 1st gear and then lower the side stand. The engine should stop.

Centre stand operation (if present):

Ensure the bike can be easily put on/off centre stand. The centre stand should retract fully and not cause interference with any components.

Clutch operation:

Ensure smooth operation of the clutch lever without any kinks. Ensure the lever free play is at the manufacturer’s specification.

Clutch cable condition:

The cable should be running freely without any obstructions. Carefully inspect the top (lever-side) part of the cable as that’s where most cables snap when they do. Inspect the cable for any signs of fraying particularly where it might touch the adjuster or elements of the lever. Inspect that the top-end pivot of the cable rotates freely inside the lever. Grease the pivot if necessary.
On the lower-end of the cable ensure the safety tab is in place so that the cable cannot disengage from the clutch.

Most modern cables are nylon-coated and do not need to be lubed.

Throttle cable operation:

Ensure smooth operation of the throttle. Ensure the throttle free play is within the manufacturers’ recommended range at any position of the handlebar, from left lock to right lock.

Seat removal/replacement:

Ensure the sear can be removed, replaced and locked easily.

Part 7: Final inspection

Go around the motorcycle slowly and carefully with a torch and look for any signs of something being wrong - any fluid leakage, and bolts missing - anything to raise a concern.

Of course this guide is by no means comprehensive but we have intended to touch on all elements that might raise a safety concern or at least probe further investigations. If you have any tips or tricks that we might include please let us know and we’d be happy to update this article!

Our Motorcycles for Rent in malaga


An excellent All Rounder Touring Motorcycle! Comfortable and relaxed posture, easy and controlled cornering make it fun to ride for short and long trips! Equipped with ample luggage capacity!


An exciting Sport Touring Motorcycle! Comfortable for long distance trips and lively for some twisty roads fun! Touring screen, heated grips and ample luggage capacity and power for traveling with a pillion.

Early Bird Special Offer
Book 30+ days in advance
Get 10% off total price
Instant discount for rentals of 3 days or longer with a start date 30 days or more from today.

Suggested Itineraries

The Gems of Andalucia: An Ultimate 8 days Motorcycle Itinerary

Duration: 9 days/8 nights (7 riding days)

Start/End points: Malaga/Malaga

Average riding time per day: 4 hours

Difficulty: Easy to moderate. Twisty roads, but with mostly good road conditions. 99% on roads (can be occasional gravel stretches due to roadworks or access roads to accommodation).

The Coast, The Desert and the Mountains: 7-9 days motorbike itinerary

Duration: 7-9 days, depending on visits to Granada and Cartagena

Start/End points: Malaga/Malaga

Average riding time per day: 4-5 hours

Difficulty: Easy to moderate. Twisty roads, but with mostly good road conditions. 99% on roads (can be occasional gravel stretches due to roadworks).

Magical Ronda: Motorcycle Day Trip from Malaga

Duration: 1 day trip from Malaga

Start/End points: Malaga/Malaga

Average riding time per day: 4 hours

Difficulty: Easy to moderate. Twisty roads, but with mostly good road conditions. 99% on roads (can be occasional gravel stretches due to roadworks).

Gibraltar Sidetrip

The information about Gibraltar trip is coming soon... Stay tuned!
Andalus Moto Team
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