Please read over these helpful tips
Before You Ride
- Read the owner’s manual, as it will give you many specifics that you will find helpful in understanding and maintaining your bike.
- Check the tires – these are the most important parts of your bike. Check the surface of the tires for cuts and foreign objects. Check the tire pressure with a good gauge, avoiding ones you find at gas stations. Many times they’ve been used a lot and may not be accurate.
- Check the controls – cables are strong and rarely break, but check for kinks or stiffness.
- Check your lights, turn signals, horn, and mirrors.
- Check the oil, fuel, and if your bike is liquid-cooled, the coolant levels.
- If your motorcycle has a chain-drive to the rear wheel, make sure that the chain is properly tensioned and in good shape.
- Make sure that the sidestand and centerstand fold up and stay up.
- Check your brakes as you roll off. Make sure they work.
On the Road
A good reminder for safe riding in traffic:
- Search around you for potential hazards.
- Evaluate any possible hazards, such as railroad tracks, turning cars, etc.
- Execute the proper action to avoid the hazard.
Make sure other drivers see you:
- Make sure your headlamps are on (even during the day), wear bright clothes, and always signal your intentions.
- Don’t be shy about using your horn to make someone aware of your presence or to make them aware of what they are doing (dozing, getting too close, etc.).
- Position your bike where it can be seen. Don’t put yourself behind a large truck or in a vehicle’s blind spot.
- Make sure you can see others and that they can see you, as much as possible. Keep your eyes moving. If they are locked on one thing, you may not notice a potential hazard. Never let your eyes focus on an object for more than two seconds.
- When you’re riding in traffic, at speeds under 40 mph, keep a two-second gap between you and the car in front of you.
- When you’re out on the open road, at higher speeds, the gap should be three or four seconds or more, depending on your speed.
- Intersections are particularly dangerous. Always check for traffic coming from the side and from behind. Make sure no one is about to run up your tailpipe.
Be smart while passing:
- You should be two (or more) seconds behind the vehicle you want to pass.
- Always make sure you turn and check your blind spot with your head.
- Don’t try to overtake another vehicle if a corner is coming up.
A new guidelines while night riding:
- Dusk is actually the most dangerous time to ride, when people’s eyes are adjusting from daylight to headlights.
- The distance between you and the vehicle in front of you becomes even more important as it gets darker.
- Wear a clear faceshield without scratches. A scratch can create light refraction that might confuse you – two headlights can look like four, for example.
Carrying a Passenger on Your Motorcycle
- Make sure the motorcycle is designed to carry a passenger.
- If you decide to carry a child, make sure the child is mature enough to handle the responsibilities, can reach the footrests, wears a helmet and other protective gear, and holds onto you or the passenger hand-holds.
- Keep in mind that some states have minimum age requirements for motorcycle passengers.
- Instruct your passenger to keep his or her legs away from the muffler to avoid burns.
- Instruct your passenger to limit movement and talking.
- Remember that the extra weight from carrying a passenger can affect braking procedures, starting from a stop, and riding through a corner.
- Exercise caution in quick stops, as a passenger can move forward and bump your helmet with theirs.
- Passing will require more time and space.
- The effects of the wind will be more distinct.
- Review the motorcycle owner’s manual for tips on preparing for riding with a passenger.
- Do not exceed the weight limitations specified in the manual.
- Before riding, practice low-speed clutch/throttle control and normal and emergency braking in an open area, like a parking lot, with a passenger.
- Allow the passenger time to adjust to the speed of riding and the feeling of leaning.
- Make sure the passenger keeps all hands and feet away from hot or moving parts.
- When in a corner, the passenger should look over the operator’s shoulder in the direction of the corner.
- The passenger should not make any sudden movements or turns.
- When crossing an obstacle, the passenger should stand on the motorcycle pegs with knees slightly bent, allowing the legs to absorb the shock upon impact.
- The motorcycle should be started before the passenger mounts.
- Before setting out, hold a riders’ meeting where you can discuss the route, rest and fuel stops, hand signals, and what to do in the event of an accident or emergency or if someone is separated from the group.
- Assign lead and tail riders who are experienced and knowledgeable in group riding procedures.
- Keep the group to a controllable size of five to seven riders. You can also break the group into smaller sub-groups, each with a lead and tail rider.
- Be prepared. At least one rider in each group should pack a cell phone, first-aid kit, and full tool kit.
- To allow for enough time and space for maneuvering and reacting to hazards, it is important to ride in formation.
- The leader rides in the left third of the lane.
- The next rider stays at least one second behind in the right third of the lane.
- The rest of the group follows the same pattern.
- Ride in a single-file formation when on a curvy road or in situations where an increased space cushion or maneuvering room is needed.
- Do not ride in side-by-side formations because they reduce the space cushion.
- Check the riders following in your rear view mirror from time to time.
Motorcycle Riding Gear
Wear a helmet:
- If wearing a helmet, wear one that has a sticker indicating DOT (Department of Transportation) compliance. This means that the helmet meets certain basic impact standards.
- Make sure you buy a new helmet if you drop your old one on a hard surface or if it sustains a heavy blow, as it may no longer be safe to use.
- Buy a helmet that fits comfortably and does not impair your hearing or vision. Helmets run anywhere from $100 to $800 or more, and because we’re talking about protecting your safety, now’s not the time to be frugal. When purchasing a helmet, check out the outer shell. More expensive helmets normally have outer shells made of fiberglass or a plastic blend, which are lighter and spread or absorb impact. The outer shell also offers vents and aerodynamic designs to reduce noise and wind pressure for riders. Nicer helmets also have removable and washable liners so they can fit better for different riders. Any helmet should fit securely, with your cheeks pressed on the helmet. Remember, helmets will break in over time. They should not be loose.
Wear eye protection:
- Wear a helmet with a shield, a pair of goggles, or shatterproof glasses.
- Make sure your eye protection is clean and unscratched. Scratches or cracks can create glare and impair your vision.
- If your lenses are tinted for riding in the sun, be sure to take some that are clear in case you find yourself riding in the dark.
- Jackets should be made of sturdy material such as denim, nylon, corduroy, or leather. Also, zippered vents allow for breeze to flow through, making jackets comfortable to wear year-round, even in warm weather.
- Pants should be made of thick material, such as leather, to resist abrasion.
- Gloves should be worn at all times to prevent any injury to hands or fingers.
- Wearing raingear makes riding in the rain easier.
- Wear over-the-ankle boots made of strong leather to protect your ankles. Also, make sure you buy boots with rubber soles and a good tread design for easy gripping.
- Protect your hearing and your ears by wearing disposable foam plugs or reusable custom-molded devices.
Wear high visibility gear:
- Wear brightly colored clothing.
- For nighttime riding, wear clothing that reflects light. Or, put reflective strips on your helmet and the backs of your boots.
- Your bike has a regular service schedule that’s listed in the owner’s manual – have these done by an authorized dealer.
- Keep your bike clean. Dirt can disguise a potential problem.
- Check your battery every month and make sure that the fluid level is correct. If it’s low, add some distilled water.
- Always take your tool kit with you when you ride. Use the tools every so often to make sure that screws and bolts are tight.
- You should always have your owner’s manual with the bike. It can tell you what to do in emergency situations.
- Know your state’s licensing requirements. It has been estimated that one-third of motorcycle operators killed in crashes are not licensed or are improperly licensed to operate a motorcycle.
- By obtaining a license, state licensing agencies ensure that motorcycle operators have the skills needed to safely operate a motorcycle.
- Take the motorcycle written test, if required by your state.
- Make sure you get insurance coverage. Most states require liability insurance.
- Know your state’s helmet laws.
- Resist the urge to speed. Every year a high percentage of riders killed in accidents were speeding.
- Never drink alcohol and get on a motorcycle.
Things Car and Truck Drivers Should Know About Motorcycles
- Because motorcycles can be hard to spot, always look for them, especially when checking traffic at an intersection.
- Because of its small size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is. Predict that a motorcycle is closer than it looks.
- Motorcycles often look like they are moving faster than they really are.
- Motorcyclists often slow down by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, therefore not activating a brake light. Allow 3 or 4 seconds of following distance and predict a motorcyclist may slow down at intersections without visual warning.
- Be aware that motorcycle turn signals are usually not self-canceling and some bikers may forget to turn them off.
- Bikers often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to stray clear of road debris, passing cars, and wind. Understand that these position shifts aren’t to be reckless, show off, or allow you to share a lane with them.
- When a motorcycle is in motion, don’t think of it as a motorcycle; think of it as a person.