As more riders get back on the road to enjoy the open air this season, it’s important to take a moment to consider motorcycle safety. Motorcyclists ride for several reasons: the freedom of the open air, the undeniable fun factor and commuter savings on fuel and parking. Motorcyclists are more exposed to the dangers of the road, however, and have to take additional safety measures. In recognition of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, here are six safety tips for new riders.
1. Choose the Right Bike
Whether you’re a new or returning rider, it may be tempting to buy the biggest bike you can afford. However, new riders don’t have the experience to handle every bike. After all, you probably can’t afford to wreck that overpowered bike — or be wrecked by it. When getting into riding, it’s important to choose a bike that you can handle, not one that handles you.
2. Wear the Right Gear
Motorcyclists tool around wearing everything from a bikini and flip-flops to full leather or synthetic armor. You probably don’t want to imagine how uncomfortable road rash might be in the case of a bikini-and-flip-flop lay down. On the other hand, full riding gear and armor will wear out a lot slower than your own skin, but it might seem like overkill on a hot day. Fortunately, riding gear is made for all weather, from cool to hot, and offers far more comfort and protection than jeans and a pair of Converse sneakers.
3. Protect Your Head
Wear a motorcycle helmet. Just do it! Some states do not mandate helmet use, while most do. States that have repealed mandatory helmet laws have seen striking increases in annual fatalities and head injuries. The bottom line is that helmets do save lives. Whether you live in a state that mandates motorcycle helmets or lets riders decide, make the choice that safeguards your life.
4. Swivel That Head
When choosing a helmet, make sure it gives you good protection and good peripheral visibility. Mirrors help, but turning your head will reveal what’s hiding in your blind spots. When you’re aware of your surroundings, you can quickly react to changing situations in front, to the side and behind your bike.
5. Anticipate Other Drivers
While riding on two wheels, remember what it’s like driving on four wheels. Before drivers make a turn or change lanes, they generally look in that direction. Turn signals and brake lights may come too late, but the car always follows the driver’s head. Pay attention to the driver, and you can anticipate his or her actions and react to them appropriately.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice!
Nothing can help you more than just getting out there and practicing. Deliberately make turns, look over your shoulder, watch other drivers and get a feel for your bike. New and returning riders can especially benefit from taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course, where you can learn advanced riding techniques and emergency evasive maneuvers.
There are many dangers on the road, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a safe and fun ride. Paying special attention to yourself, your ride, your gear, the road and your fellow motorists will keep you safe.
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Ben has been taking things apart since he was 5, and putting them back together again since he was 8. After dabbling in DIY repairs at home and on the farm, he found his calling in the CGCC Automobile Repair program. After he held his ASE CMAT for 10 years, Ben decided he needed a change. Now, he writes on automotive topics across the web and around the world, including new automotive technology, transportation legislation, emissions, fuel economy and auto repair.