What Should You Do Before Starting a Motorcycle Engine: Gear Up for Success

by Karen Neill

Motorcycle Maintenance

Before starting a motorcycle engine it’s essential to perform a few checks and preparations. So I’ve outlined below what should you do before starting a motorcycle engine.

Visual Inspection

What Should You Do Before Starting a Motorcycle Engine

Take a comprehensive look at the motorcycle from front to back examining every component for any signs of wear or damage

Look underneath the motorcycle for any leaks, paying close attention to areas such as the engine, coolant reservoir and brake lines.

Use a torch if necessary to inspect the tyres closely, checking for proper inflation, sidewall damage, punctures, or uneven wear patterns.

Verify that the tyres are not cracked or excessively worn, as this can affect traction and safety

Check the condition of the brake pads and discs, ensuring that there is sufficient pad material remaining and discs are not warped or scored.

Test the functionality of all lights, including headlights, indicators and brake lights. Replace any bulbs that are blown out or dim to ensure optimal visibility on the road.

Fuel Check

Open the motorcycle’s fuel tank and visually inspect the fuel level to ensure there is enough petrol for the intended ride.

Check the fuel cap and surrounding area for any signs of damage or corrosion that could indicate a potential fuel leak. Ensure that the fuel cap is securely fastened to prevent spillage while riding.

Oil Level

Locate the motorcycle’s oil dipstick or sight glass, depending on the model.

Remove the dipstick or inspect the sight glass to check the oil level, ensuring that it falls within the recommended range indicated by markings on the dipstick or sight glass.

If the oil level is low, add the appropriate type and viscosity of oil to bring it up to the correct level. Use a funnel to prevent spills and ensure that the oil is poured slowly to avoid overfilling.

Oil Level Check - Good Level
Clutch Check


Test the functionality of all controls, including the clutch lever, throttle, grip, front and rear brake levers, and any switches or buttons on the handlebars.

Test the clutch lever by pulling it in and releasing it to ensure that it engages and disengages smoothly. Check the throttle grip for smooth operation and ensure that it returns to the closed position freely.

Squeeze the front brake lever and press the rear brake pedal to verify that both brakes are functioning correctly. Listen for any unusual noises and feel for any sponginess or resistance in the brake system, which could indicate air in the brake lines or worn brake pads.

Test the operation of the gear shifter by shifting through the gears while the engine is off, ensuring that each shift engages smoothly and without any grinding or resistance.


Turn the motorcycle’s ignition key to the ‘OFF’ position to prevent accidental starting.

If the motorcycle has an electric starter, make sure the engine kill switch is in the ‘RUN’ position. This switch allows you to quickly shut off the engine in an emergency situation.

Kill Switch Check

Neutral Gear

Check that the motorcycle is in neutral gear by gently rocking it back and forth while applying slight pressure to the shift lever. Neutral is typically indicated by a green light on the instrument cluster or a neutral indicator on the dashboard.

If the motorcycle is in gear, pull in the clutch lever to disengage the transmission and prevent the bike from lurching forward when started. Some motorcycles may also have a side-stand switch that prevents the engine from starting if the side-stand is down and the motorcycle is in gear.

Safe Biker with Motorcycle Helmet and Jacket

Safety Gear

Put on appropriate safety gear, including an approved helmet, riding gloves, jacket, trousers and boots. Ensure that all safety gear fits properly and is securely fastened to provide maximum protection in the event of a fall or collision.

Check the straps and fasteners on your helmet to ensure a snug and secure fit, and adjust the helmet’s chin strap to prevent it from coming loose while riding.

Zip up your jacket and trousers completely and fasten any Velcro or snap closures to prevent them from flapping in the wind. Make sure that your motorcycle boots are securely laced or zipped up to provide ankle support and protection.

Once these checks are done, riders can ensure that their motorcycle is in peak condition and ready for a safe enjoyable ride. These pre-ride checks not only promote rider safety but also help to prolong the life of your motorcycle by identifying and addressing any potential issues before they escalate.

What Should You Do Before Starting a Motor Bike Engine FAQ

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