15 Motorcycle safety tips for new riders

Many people dream of getting a motorcycle and many do make the plunge in the purchase. Some people try to stay on top of the latest and greatest and others just buy what they can afford and look cool, whatever your reason for buying a motorcycle there is a good chance that you should take into consideration when purchasing a motorcycle. Below are 15 safety tips for new or returning riders.

1. Don’t buy a bike out of your range.

motorcycle riderIf you’ve been off of motorcycles for awhile, you may be surprised by the performance of today’s bikes including models with small-displacement engines. They can be notably faster and more powerful than they were 10 or 20 years ago. For a beginner a bike with 150cc-300cc will be perfect for learning on. If you plan to ride on the highways you’ll need a 500cc to 1000cc to be able to handle the speed.

2. Ride a bike that you’ll fit.

Nothing is worse is riding a bike too big or too small in size. It’ll lead to uncomfortable rides and wishing you spent the extra money for something more your size. Some bikes are made for taller people and others for shorter people. Make sure you can handle the weight and size of the bike as well as being comfortable on it.

3. Invest in antilock brakes. 

Now standard on a wide range of models, antilock brakes are a proven lifesaver. IIHS data shows that motorcycles equipped with ABS brakes were 37% less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than bikes without it. “No matter what kind of rider you are, ABS can brake better than you,” says Bruce Biondo of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Motorcycle Safety Program. The reason is simple: Locking up the brakes in a panic stop robs the rider of any steering control. That can easily lead to a skid and crash, which can result in serious injury. ABS helps you retain steering control during an emergency stop, and it can be especially valuable in slippery conditions. Upgrading to antilock brakes are not as expensive as you think and you will be glad of the difference they’ll make.

4. Hone your skills.

An MSF course or similar class can teach you the basics, as well as advanced techniques, such as how to perform evasive emergency maneuvers. The cost ranges from free to about $350. An approved safety course may make you eligible for an insurance discount and, in some states, to skip the road-test and/or the written test part of the licensing process. Some motorcycle manufacturers offer a credit toward the cost of a new motorcycle or training if a rider signs up for an MSF course. The MSF website lists about 2,700 locations for such courses around the United States.

5. Use your head.

For some helmets are a hard thing to talk about but the facts show the risk. Riders without a helmet are 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury in a crash and are 3x’s more likely to suffer brain injuries, than those with helmets, according to government studies.

“It is absolute insanity to repeal helmet laws,” says Orly Avitzur, M.D., a neurologist and a Consumer Reports medical adviser. “Because helmets do save lives, it is insanity to expose the skull and the brain to potential trauma that could be prevented or at least mitigated.”

A full-face helmet that’s approved by the Department of Transportation is the best choice. (Look for a DOT certification sticker on the helmet.) Modern helmets are strong, light weight, and comfortable, and they cut down on wind noise and fatigue. Keep in mind that helmets deteriorate over time, and may not be safe even if they look fine.

6. Wear the right gear. 

motorcycle gearJeans, T-shirt, and sandals are recipes for a painful disaster on a bike. Instead, you want gear that will protect you from wind chill, flying bugs and debris, and, yes, lots of road rash if you should slide out. For maximum protection, go for a leather or other reinforced jacket, gloves, full pants, and over-the-ankle footwear, even in summer. Specially designed jackets with rugged padding and breathable mesh material provide protection as well as ventilation for riding in warm weather. You’ll also want effective eye protection; don’t rely on eyeglasses or a bike’s windscreen. Use a helmet visor or goggles. And keep in mind that car drivers who have hit a motorcycle rider often say they just didn’t see them, so choose gear in bright colors.

7. Be defensive.

A study by the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research found that in collisions involving a motorcycle and a car, car drivers were at fault 60% of the time. So, you need to be extra alert, especially in this age of epidemic phone use and texting behind the wheel. Keep your eyes open for cars suddenly changing lanes or pulling out from side streets. Always keep a safe following distance, both to stopping and reacting to obstacles in the road. An object that a car might easily straddle could be a serious hazard when on a bike.

8. Avoid bad weather. 

riding in the rainRain and snow can cause slippery pavements and surfaces. It can also make it hard to see while riding and cause you crash. Braking and turning are limited when you make decisions to ride in bad weather. Avoid trying to make sudden maneuvers and movements when the ground is wet. If you have to ride in the rain be sure that you wait an hour or two for the oils of the road to be washed off as they can make surfaces even more slippery. Wind gusts can also make for a difficult ride. Always give yourself enough room when wind is a factor as it can push you and your bike back and forth in the lane.

9. Watch for road hazards. 

A motorcycle has less contact with the pavement than a car. Sand, leaves, or pebbles can cause a bike to slide unexpectedly, easily resulting in a laid down bike. Bumps and potholes that you might barely notice in a car can pose serious danger when on a bike. If you can’t avoid them, slow down as much as possible before encountering them, with minimal steering input. Railroad tracks and other hazards should be approached as close to a right angle as possible, to reduce the chances of a skid.

10. Be ready to roll.

Before each ride, do an inspection to make sure your lights, horn, and signals are working properly. Check the chain, belt, or shaft and the brakes. Inspect the tires for wear and make sure they’re set at the proper inflation. Motorcycle mechanics we’ve spoken with say they routinely see worn-out brakes and improperly inflated tires that greatly increase safety risks. When tires are under-inflated, handling and steering gets hard, and the bike doesn’t want to lean. A simple inspection of your bike can take less than 5 minutes and can make all the difference in the world and prevent an accident.

11. Keep your Bike Maintained.

Maintain your bike as to be ready to ride on a last minute decision. If you have to think about something that needs to be fixed take your motorcycle into the shop or if you know how to fix it do it yourself. Be sure to have your oil changed at the right times to make sure your engine will continue to run as well as not letting your bike sit for too long as it can create clogs in the carburetor. Make sure your brakes have a good amount of meat left on them to help you stop best.

12. Be Smart. 

When riding be sure that you ride in a manner where you are not endangering yourself and others around you. Obey the laws of the roads and always obey the posted speed limit. If dangers arise pull over to the side or slow down enough to avoid them. Never attempt stunt riding as it is illegal on highways and roads. If riding in a pack or group be sure to know the signals of the other riders to avoid confusion when obstacles arise.

13. Give Respect.

respectMany motorcyclists, especially in California, will give you two fingers out. This doesn’t mean a hate sign but it means that you are seen and given respect for being another rider out on the street. Not everyone will give you the sign but a good majority will and you will feel like a true biker when you do.

14. Get good insurance. 

When riding and racing around on the streets it is a very good idea to have good insurance coverage as it will help in case an accident comes your way. Having good coverage means that you have both liability and uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage. Some people drive without insurance and it can be costly to you to get everything fixed including yourself if you have to go to the doctors and have many procedures done. Always have a copy of your insurance policy with you at all times so that you can present it in case of an accident.

15. Prepare for the worst.

Having good insurance, good riding apparel, a properly maintained motorcycle, and the best weather conditions can not always prepare you for an accident. Accidents happen quite often for beginners but it is not always the riders fault for the accident. Hiring a good lawyer can mean the difference of getting pennies to getting thousands or even, in some cases, millions of dollars for your accident. The Reinecke Law Firm is a great choice for handling all kinds of motorcycle cases. Over 30 years of experience in motorcycle accidents. Our attorney will fight to get what you deserve and has been very successful in fulfilling that promise. Over 98.7% success rate!

If you or a loved one have been in a motorcycle accident call The Reinecke Law Firm at 1(800)275-8326 for a free case evaluation. We will tell you what to expect from your case right over the phone. Call today!