Riding a motorcycle is defined as a skill. Therefore, just like any other skill, it needs to be developed. While you may be able to easily cruise around town, it takes time and practice to become a safe and expert rider. In order to stay safe then, make sure you are riding within your skillset.
Ride Only in Situations You Can Manage
While friends who have ridden longer may be able to go faster and weave in and around cars, it does not mean you should follow suit. Stay clear of any hard-steering and take the curves of the road with care and diplomacy. Don’t worry about mastering some of the maneuvers that are developed over time. Take time to build your expertise and ride only in situations you know you can manage.
Drive with Increased Confidence: Attend Driving School
Of course, taking this precautionary stance does not mean that you should not challenge yourself while riding. However, confine skill-building to advanced riding courses, offered at motorcycle dealerships, or locate a racing school. Not only are the schools fun to attend, but they also help you safely build your skills so you can drive with increased confidence.
When you are on a motorcycle, you can become easily distracted. Therefore, you need to be aware of your environment and surroundings. Keep cognizant of everything that is happening around you. Remember, motorcycles can be difficult for some drivers to spot, especially if a driver is driving an SUV or a larger vehicle.
Therefore, you need to look for and avoid these kinds of vehicles rather than hope the drivers will see you first. If you are trying to use your iPod or phone while riding too, your reaction time is also further reduced – usually by mere precious seconds. After all, having a collision with a large Chevy Suburban is not worth being distracted by a smartphone or small notebook.
Keep Your Hands on the Bar
Besides avoiding a smartphone, you do not want to take your hands off the bike’s handlebars. Doing so lessens your control even further – more so than when you free your hands from a car’s steering column. Not only is the steering impacted, so are the accelerating, shifting and braking.
One of the major mistakes made by riders of motorcycles is the fact that they do not leave enough stopping distance between them and the vehicle ahead. While it is true that cycles are lighter and smaller than autos and do not need as much space in order to stop, you still need to allow for more of a distance than what one might suspect.
One of the reasons for this miscalculation is the nature of the brakes. Many of the older model brakes do not feature an anti-lock design, which is a relatively newer feature on today’s motorbikes. Therefore, if your bike has anti-lock brakes, you simply don’t want to slam on the brake to make a stop – not unless you want to suffer an injury.
Doing so will cause the wheels to lock and lead the bike into an asphalt slide. Therefore, when you are riding your bike, always leave an additional amount of space between you and the vehicle ahead of you. Try to maintain an escape route open to one side – on the road shoulder, for instance, if you are unable to stop in time.
Driving in a Storm
Another factor that goes into driving safe is the weather. Because of the instability of bikes, the rain is a riskier prospect than when you are driving a car. With only two wheels in which to navigate, you possess only 50% of the traction that you do when you drive an automobile. Plus, you don’t have windshield wipers either. Therefore, visibility is compromised. Riding through a pouring rainstorm can be a painful experience – not only physically but optically.
Therefore, when you are preparing to ride, always make sure to check the weather report. If heavy snow, ice or rain is predicted on the horizon, take another form of transport. However, if you simply must ride, then make sure you don’t operate your cycle immediately after a storm begins. That’s because, when a downpour starts, the rain brings up much of the residue and oil on the road, causing the road to becoming wet as well as extra slippery.
Wait Out the Storm if You Must
If you wait to ride, the water will wash away the residue and oil that it initially brought up. Allow the rain to clear and clean the road for you before you begin your journey. Then, when you finally head out, be especially cautious. Go at a slow pace and leave plenty in the way of space for stopping. If the weather worsens, find a place to stop and wait out the storm.
Wear A DOT-endorsed Helmet
When riding a bike too, make sure you wear your helmet. You never should ride unless you have this accessory with you. However, not any helmet will do. Avoid novelty helmets, sold by many businesses, and only choose those helmets approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT helmets have been tested and endorsed by the agency. Therefore, they are more reliable, protective and safe.
You also want to make sure the helmet fits right. It should never be too loose or tight. Neither should the helmet obstruct the vision. However, it should cover most of the head. For a higher level of protection, choose a full-face helmet, which features protection all around. None of your face makes contact with the rocks or bugs that fly up from the road. You may also want to wear a motorcycle leather jacket to keep you warm during your ride, check out some cool jackets here.