After receiving quite a number of PDI queries on numerous ownership threads, I've decided to amalgamate my experience, articles, snippets from different sources, from around the web into a single concise article, for folks who are getting their first two-wheeler. This post is not just limited to motorcycles, but should serve as a generic pointer which would help prospective buyers, get in depth perspective with respect to what to look for, how to inspect their new motorcycle. (since we are motorcycle specific and we're proud of it Just kidding.
So what is PDI? As the title suggests, PDI stands for Pre Delivery Inspection. Though most of the times, PDI is done at the dealer level, getting to know a little bit about your motorcycle before delivery helps reduce postpartum vexation.
So let's get at it shall we.
Be Courteous: You know you're getting your first or new motorcycle and the feeling of excitement overwhelms all gumptions of sanity and what not. We're all into so much enthu that we head to the dealership, we want the keys, crank the engine and with accompanying wide grin, say TATA desi style and hit the streets. But unfortunately this isn't the right way to do it, you know it.
Early Bird Catches the Prey: I always stick to the notion of heading to the dealership early, preferably broad daylight, morning and noon times. Two reasons, you can choose the bike, or if you have it pre-assigned, you can inspect other bikes and most of all you'll be the first they'd attend to 95% of the time. During this time, inspect the bike visually. Take a look around other bikes, bend, flex, turn, check how other bikes are and note down if you find anything unduly. What's unduly, we'll get to it in a moment.
Meanwhile, you're doing that, everyone else these days have a camera, your mobile phone, try snapping some pics of the motorcycles around you and your motorcycle. Trust me, I've had this instance where one of my bike's headlamp mask had gaps , and I thought it was how it was manufactured, luckily I had a few photos of other bikes I snapped earlier which came in handy to help me find the right solution to the problem. Just keep clicking, you'll never know what you now click might click you at the right time when you least expect it.
Never ask for opinions especially on the delivery day. Family members invited, but don't entertain the pseudo-know it all guy. I always say motorcycles and studies, you never ask anyone, go for what you feel is right, it's almost always right. Your gut instinct is the best. Trust it. But hey, safety opinions do matter, wear a helmet always.
VIN Number: What is a VIN NUMBER? VIN defined VEHICLE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER is a manufacturer's birthmark given to a motorcycle, detailing its DATE (if any) YEAR, MONTH it was manufactured. A little homework, on this helps you. VIN number on a motorcycle is almost always found near the neck or headstock (right or left) usually it's always on the right side. Usually a VIN number is almost always on the Chassis. Don't confuse this with the ENGINE NUMBER which is stamped on the engine casing. Different manufacturers have different VIN code, you can always ask your dealer to decode the VIN number if you find you're getting an older lot or if you find anything unduly.
Here's an example of motorcycle Chassis/VIN number stamped on the headstock
It's a good idea to inspect the electric/electronic components of the vehicle, visually. Check your flashers, headlamps, horns, brake lights (both front and rear brake) Also make sure your speedo console is perfect, especially the self check, how it works, if there's anything unduly, you can always catch the issue then and there. Make sure your battery terminals are secured in the right manner. 95% of the times the battery is installed at the dealership level, and when the demand exceeds supply they do a flimsy job, loose terminals, loose mirrors, add-ons if any. Always make sure your battery terminals are tightened, remove the battery cover and inspect the terminals by slightly tugging them, it should be tight and snug, if the star screw or a nut, in the terminals dances when you do the jolting, get them tightened.
Specs apart, It'd be great if you can crank the engine and rev it a little and see how it actually sounds, and let it idle for a minute or two. It is a good pointer especially, if and when you hear noises that aren't related to the engine, like loose fairing bolts/screws or anything or any rattling this is perhaps off tangent to the character of the engine. Four strokes do make slight timing chain noise, even if they're new, so don't confuse them. If you hear buzzing noise, rattling, these are all clearly discernible from the way the engine sounds.
Like I stated above, make sure all the other add-ons, buzzers, mirrors, crash guards are tightened properly, all these can be easily inspected by tugging them and inspecting for any slack in bolts or unevenly torqued bolts/screws/nuts. I personally have experienced instances where my rear chain adjuster nut has fallen due to improper tightening. Talking about chain...
The most neglected part of a motorcycle during its service and upon delivery is the chain, slackness of the chain. Make sure your chain is at slack, make sure all the components, such as Chain adjusters, nuts and the related components are nice and tight (both sides) to the right slack measured in mm/inches mentioned on the swingarm and make sure it's lubed you take them out. Usually they are lubed with dry lube at the factory level, but it doesn't ask more to inspect visually, what is one of the most important elements of a motorcycle.
You know this is coming don't you! Visually check for the brake lines/hoses, check the lever play, press the levers/pedal both front and rear, feel how the brake lever/pedal tightens, if it's too spongy, you have to report it to the dealership chaps immediately. Spongy brakes are almost always a sign of air in the lines. I've never faced such issue or never heard of such issue all these years, but brakes being vital, it doesn't hurt to check them in the process.
Usually what most guys complain is hard rear brake, yes, motorcycle disc brake pads do take some time to set in, though initially they're harder, once they bed in, they become more responsive. But again there is a reason why the front brakes are always bigger than the rear, try using front brakes, front brakes work effectively when used in tandem with the rear brake.
Clutch lever/Accelerator Tube Play:
Make sure you have the right clutch setting. New bikes have clutch adjusted so that they work when they just get released at the top most part of the lever throw. This isn't a problem, but that's how they are adjusted at the factory level for most of the bikes, if you feel uncomfortable at that setting, you can reduce the settings, so that you have the correct setting for your riding style.
Accelerator tube settings are usually almost faultless, but in some cases, they do get loosened up and the play is at the extreme end, where the tube needs to be rolled in a good part to keep the revs. Make sure the throttle is slick so that when you open the throttle and let go, it must return at slick speed, if you see sticking throttle cable or a slow return or a intermittent return, get your accelerator play checked. New bike, right you don't wanna mess with the accelerator
Tell me you didn't forget this part!
This is of paramount importance, be it air cooled, water cooled. This is especially important if your motorcycle has a liquid cooled motor. Check the radiator fluid, fluid in the compensation fluid tank, engine oil, brake fluid reservoirs. Usually it's at the spec 99% of the time, but since fluids are being topped at the dealer level these days, you never know what gets missed in between the lines, make sure all the recommended fluids are at their recommended levels. Helps a big deal later!
Usually these are the only thing in a new bike one can go with eyes closed, or is it? Nope! This is where tire pressure comes into play, ask your dealer to check the tire pressure. Uneven tire pressure can cause sluggish performance and especially on a new bike this can even worsen the first-buyer experience. Head to the nearest air station and get your tires topped to the right psi. Tire pressure readings are given on the left side swingarm of the bike.
Dealership guys are crude.Period. Never trust them with the fuel level, the moment your motorcycle is out head to your nearest fuel station and get it topped up. Don't trust them and go for a joy ride, and you'll be in for a bad treat. New ride, good day, you don't want that to happen, would you?
Last part though!
Probably this should be included first, but we all know boring stuffs take the back seat. Make sure, you get your invoice, check the VIN number that's written in the manual and your bike are exact to spec. Apart from payment and interest rates and related papers which differ form the loaner/banker, make sure you get your insurance/temp registration number in case you pay full cash. When you pay full cash, you usually are given the insurance copy, plus the bike's all-in cost bill/receipt and the bike's manual/key paraphernalia and the temp registration details.
Make sure you get your spare keys, usually you're given two keys with your motorcycle, make sure you get both the keys, key code card (with certain motorcycles)
These days motorcycles come with extended warranty, for a nominal amount. I'd personally go for it, peace of mind later on just in case if things take a turn for worse. It usually is around 800 to 1000 bucks, my personal suggestion would be to opt for one.
And do you think I'd leave you guys without the important aspect!
Gear up! Riding gear!
You know, you're investing your hard earned cash on a motorcycle (totally worth how much ever you spend on motorcycle but why not throw in just a teeny-tiny bit more, invest yourself with a good set of riding gears, i.e. helmets, gloves, jackets and boots. Most people think of investing on riding apparel after a motorcycle has been bought, only to later realize the credit crunch taking on them like storm. Save a few thousand bucks along with the bike's total amount, get your riding gear first and it'd help you discover a new perspective into motorcycling.
And with that, you get your Khushiyon ki chaabi (keys to happiness)
Enjoy your ride!
Hope it helps!