Spend a minute or two adjusting lever span/height and the levels of the foot controls. The last owner might have been a foot taller or shorter – just hopping on and expecting someone else’s set-up to be OK can result in discomfort, or not being able to safely control the bike. It’s also possible that the last owner tweaked the position of the hand controls, so check they suit you and adjust if necessary. While you are at it, ensure that nothing is fouling the controls – swing the bars from lock-to-lock – and the cables aren’t sticking. Does the throttle snap back when you let go of the twist grip? Get it right to start with.
Conscientious sellers sometimes take the panels off for a deep clean, or the bike might have had a fresh service ready for sale. All good news, but a quicknut and bolt check on critical fasteners (sump plugs, oil fillers, brake bolts and any bodywork fittings removed for servicing) is 10 minutes well spent and will also help you familiarise yourself with your new acquisition. If you want to go one better, use a torque wrench and the owners’ manual to check that the wheel nuts etc are tightened correctly (too tight can be as bad as too loose). Mistakes happen, but you don’t want to find out on the road.
7Gassed up to go
Well, duh, right? It’s worth having a splash in a fuel can to put in it, or fill up within the first mile – some dealers drain tanks for showroom health and safety, and if you’ve driven a hard bargain they’re unlikely to throw much gas in to the deal. Similarly, some private sellers begrudge new owners a fiver’s worth of unleaded, and leave their old ride running on fumes.
8Good and legal
Blue lights in the mirror aren’t the ideal way to end your first ride. Make sure the numberplate is legal, and all the lights are functioning as they should be. If it has aftermarket exhaust/s, check they’re approved for road use. If they’re not, you’ll need to swap, or be prepared to run the traffic police gauntlet. It’s up to you – but you should at least know the score.
9Slow ride, take it easy…
Spend the first 10 miles warming everything up and taking it steady. It’s a chance to feel your way in to the handling, performance and brakes, but also to determine if there are any issues to resolve before exploiting the abilities of your bike. It doesn’t hurt to stop after these familiarisation miles, and give everything a check-over at the roadside.
Keep your bike safe from thieving