Don’t Knock T-CLOCS
SGT. 1ST CLASS ROLLIE T. COLEMAN
C Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment
Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia
A company-sponsored motorcycle safety day and ride is always a welcome change to the daily grind. It was during one of these events that seven of my fellow riders and I learned a near-fatal lesson in proper motorcycle safety inspections.
While assisting the company motorcycle mentorship NCO, I planned a 135-mile ride to lunch to take place on a Friday. We had already rescheduled twice due to weather, so when we finally got a good day to ride, we were eager to go. During preparations to leave the company area, we had a lot of things going on. As we conducted pre-ride T-CLOCS (Tires and wheels, Controls, Lights, Oil and Chassis, Stands) inspections on everyone’s motorcycles, I covered the planned route, risk assessment worksheet and expected road conditions. I then had everyone move to their left and inspect the bike next to them as a control measure and to get a second look at each motorcycle in the line.
Once the inspections were complete, we geared up and rolled out of the parking lot. About 25 miles down the road, I looked in my mirror and noticed the entire formation behind me was rapidly slowing down and pulling into a farmhouse driveway. By the time I turned around and pulled in with the rest of the group, they were all dismounted and clustered around one of the riders. The rider’s air intake mounting hardware had vibrated out and caused the entire air intake to fall off the bike.
During the next 20 minutes of scrounging for tools and putting the air intake back together, we all cracked a few jokes about this rider’s bike falling apart. While we were giving him a hard time, most of us unconsciously began walking around our own bikes to make sure they were still in good shape. The rider that had been in the No. 2 position in the formation called me over to look at his bike.
When he leaned on his rear fender, he thought it felt like was moving unnaturally. Upon further inspection, we realized the swingarm bolts had backed out of the frame. In fact, the left-hand bolt had backed out to the point that the only thing holding it in was the fact it was snagged on a passing brake line clamped to the frame. We grabbed the tools to reinstall the bolts correctly and re-torque them. Once all the repairs were completed, we finished the ride and returned home.
During our debrief, we discussed the issues that occurred on our ride. If we had not encountered the air intake issue early on, we probably wouldn’t have found the major issue, the swingarm bolts, before it resulted in a disastrous situation. If the swingarm bolts had fallen out while the rider was going down the road, the resulting catastrophic failure would have taken down most, if not all, of the formation.
While we thought we took the right amount of time on our inspections, we don’t know if the deficiency was overlooked or occurred once we were on the road. While you might not be able to catch everything on an inspection, spending a little extra time and attention never hurts.
T-CLOCS was developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to assist riders in completing a comprehensive pre-ride motorcycle inspection. To print your own copy of the T-CLOCS inspection checklist, visit https://safety.army.mil/Portals/0/Documents/OFF-DUTY/PMV-2/PAMPHLETSCHECKLISTS/Standard/T-CLOCSInspectionChecklist_2008.pdf. For additional information, visit https://safety.army.mil/OFF-DUTY/PMV-2-Motorcycles/Pamphlets-Checklists.