The threat to motorcycle riders is very real. According to the Insurance Information Institute, nearly 5,000 motorcyclists were killed and 90,000 were injured in 2015. These crashes were often caused by other careless drivers or poor weather and road conditions, but biker deaths and injuries are also caused by factors within the rider’s control. Wearing appropriate safety gear, taking a safe rider course, and following traffic laws all help protect a rider from injury and death in a crash.
Another factor that endangers a motorcyclist is a bike in poor condition. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) recommends regular rider inspections, and the state of Missouri requires an outside safety inspection in order to register or renew your motorcycle’s license plate. Knowing what to look for in a safety inspection can keep you safe down the road.
Missouri’s Inspection Requirement
In order to register or renew a motor vehicle in Missouri, you must submit proof that the vehicle passed a safety inspection conducted by an authorized inspection station. The reason for these inspections is to ensure that vehicles on the road are in good working order. If a vehicle fails the inspection, the owner is required to get the necessary repairs in order to register and legally drive the vehicle. Vehicles are only exempt from the required inspection for the first five years following their model year.
Motorcycles are subject the same rules as other vehicles. In order for a motorcycle to pass inspection, the following bike components must be examined and receive a good rating:
- Brake pedal height and reserve
- Wheel and master cylinder for leakage
- Master cylinder fluid level
- Break hoses and rods or cables
- Head light(s)
- Beam indicator (if equipped)
- Tail light(s) and reflectors
- Stop light and turn signals (if equipped)
- Frame, fork, steering head bearing, handle bars (including height), and front and rear wheel tracking
- Wheel bearings and grease retainers
- Front and rear shock absorbers
- Tires, wheels, and rims
- Exhaust system and muffler
- Windshield (if equipped)
- Fuel tank, filler cap, and fuel line connections
Motorcycles with an even model year are inspected in even years, and vehicles with odd model years are inspected in odd years. Registration is good for one or two years, depending upon when it was issued.
For example, if you registered your 2006 motorcycle in 2016, you have until the same month in 2018 to have it inspected and renewed. However, if you register it in 2017, you will have to inspect and renew it in 2018.
More Frequent Inspections Are Necessary
While these required state inspections catch and correct dangerous safety issues, a mechanical problem can arise at any time and jeopardize your safety. Bad brakes, underinflated tires, or a leaking fuel line can all lead to a disastrous situation. That's why the MSF recommends conducting your own inspection before every ride. It's created an inspection model called T-CLOCS to help riders remember what to look for.
This inspection includes the following:
- T: Tires & Wheels. This inspection includes the condition and pressure of tires and wheels as well as the function and condition of the brakes.
- C: Controls. Handlebars, levers, pedals, cables, hoses, and throttle all fall under an inspection of the motorcycle’s controls.
- L: Lights & Electrics. The battery, lights, turn signals, mirrors, and reflectors should all be in working order.
- O: Oil & Other Fluids. Checking fluid levels and looking for leaks can not only prevent a breakdown, but also prevent a fire.
- C: Chassis. A quick check of the frame, suspension, chain or belt, and fasteners could prevent a serious accident.
- S: Stands. If the center or side stand malfunctions, a rider could drop a bike on him- or herself.
Clearly, it takes some knowledge of mechanics to be able to conduct this inspection yourself, so safety advocates believe every rider should have a basic knowledge of how the machine works before riding.
When Everyone Is Out to Get You, You Must Protect Yourself
There are enough dangers on the road for motorcycles that riders shouldn't add to that list by failing to take precautions. Inspecting your bike on a regular basis is smart, and could save your life.
The legal team of Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys is on your side as a motorcyclist in Missouri. Use the form below to request your free copy of The KC Biker Bible.