Seven Safety Tips for Motorcycle Riders
Motorcycles are one of the most popular vehicle types in America. They’re fast, fuel efficient, and you can park them practically anywhere. This makes them the perfect bike for students, urban professionals, and road trip enthusiasts alike, but they also come with a certain amount of risk. While it may be fun to feel and lean into turns, you’re also driving without the protective shell of a car, or the mass that will make other drivers notice and avoid you. In order to continue enjoying your motorcycle through a long and healthy life, it’s important to keep safety as your number one priority. While we’re sure you know the basics, here are seven safety tips for motorcycle riders that should never be forgotten.
1) Know Your Local Traffic Rules
Traffic rules are different in every town. The way intersections work, the length of yellow lights, and whether or not you’re allowed to turn right on red may seem trivial at first until you remember that crossing these rules may result in a full-sized car trying to occupy the same piece of road, a very dangerous predicament for any rider. Get to know your local traffic rules and follow them carefully so cars will know exactly where to expect you.
2) Drive Defensively
One of the biggest risks for any motorcyclist is the highway hypnosis driver. Those that have stopped paying full attention to the road because they’re sure they know where they’re going and where the other cars will be. These drivers are the least likely to notice you entering the lane next to them or merging ahead or behind. As the smaller vehicle, make sure you’re ready to dodge other inattentive drivers because it will be your hide on the pavement even if they’re at fault behind the wheel.
3) Watch Out for Puddles and Pot Holes
No matter how careful you are about other drivers, the quality of the road is often the biggest danger to any adventurous motorcycle rider, especially in the rain. Rough road conditions and cause your front wheel to change direction suddenly, putting you at risk of turning or spinning out and wet roads make this even more dangerous. Even if the road is mostly alright, keep a special eye out for potholes. Even very small ones can pose an incredible risk. Also, do your best not to drive through puddles no matter how tempting, as they could potentially hide dangerously deep potholes underneath.
Sometimes even if no one technically did anything wrong, you could still end up skidding to an uncomfortable stop with or without your bike beneath you. The primary culprits of these circumstances are uneven lanes, loose dirt or gravel, or black ice on the road. Even if you always drive safely and have never wrecked before, you can’t know the exact road conditions before you set out, or if you’ll end up near an inattentive driver. Make sure to wear full body protection from the top of your helmet to the soles of your sturdy boots, even if it’s hot outside.
4) Wear Your Prescription Lenses
Many people are required to wear prescription lenses while driving. If you’re one of them, you can still ride your motorcycle as long as you know how to wear glasses and helmet together. If you don’t have prescription motorcycle glasses or prefer the protection of a full helmet shield, simply put your helmet on first, then your glasses, then lower your faceplate. To prevent fogging at stops, crack or lift the visor as you slow down. When you’re ready to take off the helmet, remember to take your glasses off first.
5) Inspect Your Ride
Out on the road, you and your motorcycle are a team. It handles contact with the road, propulsion, and smooth response to your commands while you handle balance, direction, and decision making. In order to make sure this partnership works correctly, inspect your ride regularly. Kick the tires, check for scrapes or bent parts, test your lights and signals, watch for fluid leaks, and check your hydraulic and coolant levels weekly.
6) Remember the Performance Checklist
Every time you get on the bike, go through a performance checklist before heading out. This is your chance to catch a malfunction before it becomes a hazard on the road. Make sure your clutch and throttle work smoothly and that the throttle snaps back into place when released. Clean and adjust your mirrors, test both rear and front breaks and give the horn a quick tap be sure you can alert other drivers of your presence if necessary.
7) Keep Your Lights On
As a final word of advice, never drive with your headlight out. While it may be standard practice for some to turn it off in the daylight, the as a motorcycle you need every possible advantage to being spotted and noticed by other drivers. Overpasses, cloudy days, and twilight are all circumstances that put you at greater risk, so you might as well keep it switched on at all times while out on the road.
Enjoying the freedom of riding your motorcycle can put you at extra risk, but you can take control by maintaining high safety standards for both yourself and your bike. Make sure to prepare yourself and your bike for every ride with a full equipment and functionality test and pay close attention to both the road conditions and the actions of other drivers. And, of course, always wear the right eye protection so you’ll be able to see where you’re going with perfect visual clarity.