Motorcycles are the best toy for any adult, fun to ride and efficient on gas. That doesn’t make them any safer than a car, and if you’re a beginner, you want to be prepared before taking your new bike on the streets for a revitalizing ride.
It can be nerve racking for any rider to hit the road the first couple of times since there is a lot of important information to process to keep you, and everybody else around you safe. There are no seat belts or airbags on motorcycles, so one mistake could cost you your life. This is why we have assembled some motorcycle riding tips for you newbies out there, to keep you riding safe and having fun.
1. Get Some Training
Let’s face it…men have egos. “Ride a motorcycle? Sure I can ride a motorcycle, how hard can it be?” Remember when you were 6 or 7 years old starting to ride your bicycle with no training wheels for the first time? Ya I have some painful memories of that too. Not all aspiring motorcycle riders have the pleasure of having their parents teach them how to ride like they did with their first bicycle. This is why you are going to want to take some training programs. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has programs all over the USA, some which even provide you with a bike for beginner students. These classes are perfect to learn the techniques of throttle, clutch, brake control and lots more. They also offer experienced and advanced courses as you get more comfortable controlling your motorcycle. Head over to www.msf-usa.org to find a program near you. You won’t be disappointed as they have served over 7 million people since 1974. Don’t forget to practice once you feel that you can take your bike out with no assistance, so find an open parking lot and start improving!
2. Wear Proper Gear
You don’t want to be getting on your new motorcycle in your t-shirt, jeans and helmet, expecting to be protected in case of a crash. Yes your helmet is the most important item you need to be wearing, but it won’t make you invincible. No one wants to get in an accident, but when you’re a beginner, toppling over is more likely than if you’re an experienced rider, and you will want to protect your body at all costs. Full face helmets offer the most protection for your head and are perfect for beginners – especially the paranoid ones. Open face helmets offer protection for your head but not so much for your face, and half helmets offer minimal protection for your head, but are still acceptable on the road as long as they’re DOT approved. At the end of the day, its really all based on preference of the rider. Make sure you are educated on how to find the proper fit because you don’t want your helmet moving around at speed.
The rest of your body should stay well protected as well because what happens when you fall off your bike? You get some nasty road rash which nobody wants. There are jackets on the market that pass air as well as a t-shirt does, and will still keep you protected. A good pair of gloves is important as well because even during a low speed fall, its instinctive to use your hands to catch yourself so you don’t smash your head on the concrete (even with your helmet on). If you’re going to wear denim, make sure they are Kevlar lined. There are also leather and textile pants on the market, but again, its all based on personal preference – just make sure you wear them. A solid pair of boots are important as well. If your feet can slip in and out of them easily then how do you think they will stay on during a crash? Consider physical factors like the height, types of materials, construction and closure of the boots.
Stay well protected because nobody likes hospital food!
3. Look Where You Want To Go
This is an important concept when learning how to ride. Looking where you want to go and then going there is crucial to avoid and obstacles you may face on the road. What do I mean? Well, if you are riding and happen to come across a pothole or debris, don’t stare at it because you’ll probably end up hitting it. Once you notice the obstruction, immediately look away but keep it in your peripheral vision and focus on the path you want to go and move your motorcycle towards that spot.
4. Ride Defensively
This concept is important when driving any motor vehicle, but more so on a motorcycle. There are a lot of stupid drivers out there who would rather send a text message, find their lighter to spark their cigarette, mess around with their iPod to find a new song to play or talk on the phone, than keep an eye on their surroundings. As a motorcycle rider, you want to anticipate any sudden movements about to happen around you. Never assume that a car driver sees you because they are focused on bigger objects on the road like trucks and other cars. Have it etched on your mind that every driver will do something stupid, and always be ready for it. Constantly move your bike to the least hazardous place on the road to avoid any consequences. A short way of putting this is to ride like your invisible and always have an escape route.
5. Maintain Your Motorcycle
There are lots of simple things to keep in mind when looking after your motorcycle. The most easiest and useful things any rider can do to their bike is wash and wax it. Keeping it regularly clean will keep the dirt and gunk off and keep it looking fresh. It also helps you keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary that may need future repair. Check your oil and make sure your tires are properly inflated to improve handling and keep you safer on the road. Proper tire pressure will also improve your bike’s gas mileage. Inspect your chain drive and ensure it is at the proper tension. Chains are expensive and you don’t want to replace yours if you don’t have to. If you have a belt or shaft drive you won’t have to worry about that last tip. Also make sure you lights aren’t burned out because you want everyone on the road to see you.
Have any tips of your own? Feel free to write them down in the comment section below!