It Starts with Proper Lubrication:
While motorcycles are more simplistic than their four wheeled counterparts, that doesn't diminish the overall importance of maintaining your machine. Like a car or truck, start with the basics: tires, fuel delivery, and lubrication.
Lubrication is especially important in high revving machines like motorcycles. Lots of metal parts are spinning around at an obscene amount of speed. The only thing keeping them from grinding each other to dust is a thin layer of quality motor oil. Just like a car, changing your motorcycle's oil regularly is the single most important maintenance step for your machine's long-term reliability. Motor oils specifically designed for high revving motorcycles work best and can be purchased at any local bike shop or dealership. Consult the owner's manual for the recommended type of oil and the recommended intervals for changing the oil. More than any other single action, changing the oil often and using the proper viscosity rating is the best way to ensure your motorcycle runs well for a long time.
After Lubrication, think Fuel Delivery:
The next most common source of failure on a motorcycle is in the fuel system. Whether you have a traditionally carbureted bike, or a newer fuel injected model, the proper fuel/air mixture is the essential piece that makes the bike produce power to the drive chain, to the tire, and eventually to the ground. Build-up or blockage in either the fuel or air delivery side of this mixture can significantly impair your motorcycle's performance, or even prevent it from running entirely. Clean and oil your air filter regularly to ensure the bike's air lifeline is never inhibited. For most modern bikes that use fuel injection, use fuel injection cleaners that can be poured directly into your bike's gas tank. Consult your owner's manual for proper intervals and amounts when it comes to use of injector cleaners.
For older bikes equipped with a carburetor, the process is a bit different. Carburetor cleaners can be poured into a gas tank the same as injector cleaners, but that may not always be sufficient. It's also a good idea to regularly disassemble and clean the essential components in your bike's carburetor. Pay special attention to the fuel bowl located at the bottom of your carburetor. Make sure the floats in the bowl can rise and fall freely. Next, make sure there are no obstructions in your carburetor's main jet. This jet is responsible for the lion's share of fuel delivery at most rpm ranges. Streetbike stores like Motosport stock carburetor repair kits that start at about $20.
In an emergency, hitting the road quickly can make all the difference. It's too little, too late to be thinking about maintenance after the fact. Now is the time to make sure your bike is running properly so you can hit the pavement quickly when the time comes.
In an Emergency, Communication is Key:
Communication is important to consider. A motorcycle can be a great scout or escape vehicle, but won't serve a large group without some means to communicate between the rider and any others in the group, be they fellow riders or not. Communication through traditional cell phones or walki-talkies is not only unpractical, it is also illegal because it is essential to use both hands at all times when operating a motorcycle.
While it is possible to make use of hand signals for quick basic communications like "stop," or "turn right," for a better way to communicate, specific hands free comm systems are available just for your motorcycle. The ability to communicate with other riders and non-riders in your group will make your motorcycle infinitely more valuable as a scout or escape vehicle in the event of an emergency. Lot's of riders have realized this, and motorcycle communication systems have become extremely popular, and can be found online or at many brick and mortar retailers that carry motorcycle accessories.
A properly maintained, properly equipped motorcycle can be the difference between life and death in an emergency. A bike is quicker, more efficient, more mobile, and more versatile in an emergency situation than most types of vehicles. A little bit of pre-planning can give you the edge in speed and communication in the event of an emergency.