Learning to ride a motorcycle for first-time riders can be a steep learning curve. With so much to take in it may seem impossible to get everything before hitting the road. Here are ten things beginning riders should always keep in mind before twisting the throttle as they prepare to ride.
Good Training is Key
Riding a motorcycle may look easy, but the truth is there’s a lot more involved than you would think. Nothing can replace the lessons you’ll get from taking a motorcycle training course. You’ll learn the basics of brake control, clutch, and throttle, plus several other valuable lessons that will be vital when you are more confident to hit the open road. Find courses through The Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
Proper Protective Gear is a Must
A t-shirt, jeans, and sandals are not going to protect you from severe injury if you have an accident. However, a helmet, armored gear, and non-slip motorcycle boots will help you stay safe if you should have a fall or worse. Helmets protect against fatal head injuries, while armor can save you from broken limbs and road rash. Boots with good traction help you grip the road during stops when it may be slippery.
Always Perform a Pre-Ride Inspection
You’ll want to make sure your bike’s chain or belt is in good order before you ride to prevent breaking down on the road. Depending on whether your bike is chain or belt driven, the methods will vary slightly. During this inspection, check for oil or fluid leaks, and tire condition and pressure.
Avoid Riding During Bad Weather
Getting caught in the rain can really hamper your ride… and can be a real safety hazard to boot. Not only does rain lower your visibility, but it also reduces the amount of grip your bike’s tires have on the road. If you do happen to get caught in a sudden summer downpour, go gently so as to avoid sliding and risking an accident.
Avoid Road Hazards
At first glance this may seem like a no-brainer, but for motorcycles road hazards are different than they are for cars. Barely noticeable pot holes, pebbles, wet leaves or puddles can spell trouble for the beginning biker if they’re not careful. Since a motorcycle has less contact with the road than a car, these things cause more trouble for bikes over cars.
Look Where You Want to Go
Beginning bikers tend to focus on the road immediately in front of them. By looking farther into the distance ahead you’ll be able to spot hazards before they become a problem and anticipate traffic concerns. Look ahead and observe the road around you rather than hyper-focusing on the small bit of asphalt before your tire. Look ahead, observe, and anticipate situations as you ride. Ask yourself what you would do if you ran into one.
The sad truth about sharing the road with many drivers is they may be distracted by texting, changing radio stations, lighting a cigarette, or just not paying attention. Always keep your attention ahead of you (see above) and anticipate any potential traffic issues before they become an issue. You can’t change the way people drive, but you can control the way you ride.
Adjust Your Mirrors BEFORE Riding
Unlike a car with automatic adjustable mirrors, you can’t adjust your bike’s mirrors while on the go. You need to see what’s going on all around you, and mirrors help you keep an eye on what’s going on behind you. Make sure your mirrors can reflect what’s behind you in the riding position by getting on your bike and adjusting them as needed.
Know Your Area’s Motorcycle Laws
It’s always good to know what the laws are when it comes to riding motorcycles in your area. Laws vary from state to state, especially on the topic of helmets. Some states require them at all times, others require only certain age ranges. There may be other laws regarding how many mirrors are required on your bike and whether or not minors are allowed to ride with you or not.
Take Excellent Care of Your Bike
Bike safety doesn’t end as soon as your ride does. Bike safety extends to maintaining and cleaning your bike when not in use. A good wash and wax will keep dirt and debris from the road off and prevent chains and belts from being damaged. This also serves a an inspection. Make sure to watch oil and fluid levels as well as tire condition and tire pressure.