There’s nothing quite like turning over the engine on your ATV for the first time in the riding season. With its throaty roar, your ATV suddenly becomes more than just a machine. It’s a promise of adventure, a faithful companion, and a chance to connect with remote parts of the world.
But before you can hit the trails that criss-cross the Hells Canyon region, it’s best to take a few minutes and inspect your machine. As the go-to source for ATV rentals in Idaho, Killgore Adventures has spent a lot of time on, and under, these vehicles. We want you to enjoy every minute of your trip, so we put together this quick checklist to ensure your ATV is in good working order.
Use T-CLOCS on Your ATV
We aren’t just spitting acronyms just for the sake of it. T-CLOCS is a handy way to remember all of the things to check on your ATV each time you decide to ride. Let’s break this down in detail.
Tires and Wheels
They say you should never skip out on the things that keep you from the ground. That includes mattresses, shoes, and, of course, tires. Your ATV should have four perfectly serviceable tires on it before you take off. But what should you check?
Start by looking at the air pressure. The pressure should be within the manufacturer’s recommended pressure range. If your tires are under or over-inflated, you might notice issues like poor handling and damage to the tires or wheels. Don’t use the same pressure gauge as you do on your car, you’ll want to use a low-pressure gauge. Next, look at the overall condition of the tires. Are they cracking? Are there any splits? Finally, take a look at the bolts, nuts, and pins holding your wheels in place.
Checking the controls of your ATV should feel fairly intuitive, as you’re just repeating what you usually do while riding, the difference is you’re being a little more observant. Check your steering by moving the handlebars from side to side. If it feels tight, loose, or gritty, it’s time to inspect it more thoroughly. Take a second to review the condition of your grips. Disintegrating rubber grips aren’t useful and can be dangerous if left unchecked.
Next, check your brakes. These must be in good shape, as they are a critical part of keeping you safe while you travel. Squeeze your front brake and rear brake levers. Make sure they move smoothly and engage quickly. Next, take a look at your pads. They shouldn’t be run down to the metal.
Finally, take a peek at your shifter. It should be firmly seated in place and positioned correctly. You should feel it positively engage when you press or raise it.
Lights and Electrics
While you’re working the handlebars, take a look at the hand controls. Does your ignition switch work the first time? Your engine stop switch should shut the engine off immediately. Don’t forget your other switches. Do the indicators flash when you activate them? What about your horn and headlights? Your brake lights should flash when you engage the brake levers.
Oil and Fluids
You’d be surprised how many people we encounter on the trails who are stranded because their ATV wasn’t topped off with oil and gas. You should check your oil levels before every ride. You can quickly check the dipstick or spyglass to see how much is left and if it needs to be changed.
Make sure you ATV has a full tank of gas before you head out. If your ATV has been sitting in the shed all winter, it’s a good idea to change out the fuel with fresh stuff.
Chains and Chassis
Your chain or driveshaft should be well-lubricated. The chain should have the appropriate level of tension and slack. If your ATV uses a drive shaft, make sure it’s not leaking in any way. With these components checked, do a visual inspection of all of the nuts and bolts across the entirety of the ATV. Look for loose bolts, broken or damaged parts, or even pieces that are missing. Tighten everything up, and make repairs and replacements as needed.
Don’t Forget Your Gear
Enjoying your ATV ride means not only caring for your machine but for yourself too. Make sure you’re wearing proper safety gear, like a helmet, boots, gloves, and long sleeves. Your body will thank you if you lose control of your machine.