Motorcycle Riding 101: Safety Tips and Guide
Let's kick this off with a very positive note - It's a good day, and good job on getting your first motorcycle! But if you haven't already, then I'm sure you will do a great job in choosing one. Check out the article Investing in the Right Motorcycle for You for a comprehensive guide, and tips on how to choose your next ride. 😉
Now there could be a number of reasons as to why one might take interest in riding motorcycles, let alone actually picking one up from their favorite dealership and riding it. One of the most popular reasons out there is to de-stress, as who would have thought that motorcycle riding would be a good outlet for stress? But actually yes, riding a motorcycle does indeed help you relax and sort of escape the confines of the mundane world, if you will. I can only imagine the smile that the whole riding experience would paint on your face while you cruise around the country-side, while you enjoy the chilly mountain air, or maybe even while you feel the cold see breeze brushing gently through your skin. Surreal, right?
Another few good reasons that come to mind would be to ultimately beat the annoying traffic on your daily commute, or it might be that you are looking into getting one from a business-oriented perspective. Whatever the reason maybe, there's no denying the fact that motorcycles are ubercool and useful, not to mention very efficient.
With all that said, we at Motomart.Ph, have put together a list of our top 10 motorcycle safety tips below to act as your guide for a safe riding adventure and motorcycle escapades. Always remember - proper riding etiquette is absolutely important and of course, safety is paramount!
1. Do Not Drink and Drive!
We can't stress this enough, but this deservers the number one spot as this should be the golden rule for both the experienced and inexperienced riders alike. And yes, this definitely applies to just about every vehicle out there, not just motorcycles in particular.
Never drink and ride, always! And don't even try! Driving a motorcycle needs focus, heightened awareness, and control, which are exactly the things that you would loose while under the influence of liquor. You need to ride sober as otherwise you could bring forth harm to yourself and others. Remember that drowsiness can easily set in while riding drunk which would, in turn, impair your ability to react and make sound judgements.
2. ATGATT - Wear All the Gear, All the Time!
If I just want to go out for a quick stroll then I wouldn't need all that extra protection, right? Well, yes you do! Remember that the only thing that keeps you from planting your face into solid ground while riding is your DOT approved helmet. Let us accept and be at peace with the fact that when you ride your motorcycle, Almost every part of your body is pretty much open and vulnerable to all sorts of dangers and hazards out there, so its important that you wear the prescribed gear when riding out, might it be short or long rides. Now what are these prescribed gears, you ask? They are the following:
- Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet.
- Motorcycle Jacket (leather, nylon, Kevlar, padded, etc.)
- Motorcycle Gloves
- Riding Boots
- Riding Pants (Jeans are acceptable)
You can throw in arm pads and knee-pads, too, for added protection. No one's going to judge, as your safety is more important than anything else.
3. Make Pre-ride Quick Checks a Habit
Unfortunately, this might be one of those important thing that riders tend to forget. We understand and we get it, sometimes we get pressed for time and are almost always on the rush due to our busy schedules, but make it a point to give bike inspections a bit of your precious time - even 15 minutes will do just fine. This might just save your life today or tomorrow.
You see, giving your motorcycle a good once-over before riding out is a proper riding etiquette that every aspiring rider should adopt to ensure that nothing would go wrong before and while you are hitting the road. Part of the things that you should check for are worn-out brake pads, worn-out tires, inadequate tire pressure, loose screws, nuts, and bolts, chain lubrication, oil levels, coolant levels, etc. You know the drill. This is a very effective way of avoiding an impending on-road disaster that you might just inflict on yourself, not to mention others sharing the road with you. We've seen and read too many horror stories about supposedly chill rides that have gone really bad to a point of being deadly just because of a loose wheel axle nut, a non-lubricated chain, or even worn-out tires.
4. Observe Proper and Regular Maintenance Intervals
Proper maintenance intervals can extend and help prolong your motorcycle's lifespan and roadworthiness. I'm pretty sure that you will want to avoid costly repairs and a whole list of expensive parts to replace just because you missed to change your oil filter more than twice or thrice, or maybe just because you forgot to change your ail filter in a timely manner, who knows. The point is to always keep your motorcycle in tin-top condition to void road mishaps and all sorts of inconveniences. Together with pre-ride checks, proper maintenance intervals could be a defining factor between life and death on the road.
5. Follow Traffic Regulations and Rules
Another good riding etiquette to adopt is to observe and follow traffic rules and regulations. Sounds simple enough but we all know that a good percent of the entire riding demographic is having a hard time doing this, otherwise traffic enforcers wouldn't bother bringing traffic citation tickets to work. Now there could be a myriad of reasons as to why riders would still fail to follow the rules, but the key is to educate yourself to avoid hefty fines and even the possible suspension of your driver's license. Yikes!
6. Ride Defensively, Ride Smart!
Is defensive riding actually good? Yes it absolutely is! Riding a motorcycle is like that one game where everybody is out to get you, and you can even take that literally, since every other object on the road, including other vehicles, can potentially harm you. Defensive riding entails focus and heightened awareness - always leave that extra gap of road space as a potential escape route should something go wrong while you are out in riding your motorcycle, especially if there's a good volume of traffic.
Always use your side mirrors as they are there for a reason. Also practice the should tap maneuver wherein you check for any speeding or incoming vehicles from the rear by turning your head towards whichever shoulder applicable. Although you might not get a good glimpse of whatever is coming your way from behind, your peripheral vision will do the trick and would eventually ring alarm bells that will warn you before you execute that turn.
More importantly, use your head! Common sense can get you a long way on the road, so get yourself together and use your best judgement.
7. Know Your Limits
There's never a dull moment when you're riding out especially if you do it with friends, as it's more fun, after all. But as responsible riders, who are we kidding? Even the slightest increase in the group riding pace can cause volumes of adrenaline to be pumped out by your body, causing unnecessary excitement which could potentially be dangerous, since it can lead to poor judgement. Note that this applies even if you're riding alone, too, as riding a motorbike is already exciting in itself. And yes, a little bit of excitement is good and no, this does not mean that we are undermining your riding skills nor should you undermine your own capabilities, but let this be a gentle reminder that family and friends are waiting for you to get home safe and sound. The moment you start that motorcycle engine you should already know that poor judgement and poor awareness can be a total recipe for disaster, so it's important that you find that exact sweet spot between excitement and safety. Leave yourself a little bit of legroom for self preservation.
8. Think Passenger Safety
When carrying or taking with you a passenger, a little discussion or briefing before hitting the road definitely helps. This would be a good opportunity to know your passenger's comfort levels when it comes to, say, speed and cornering angles. The most common mistake out there for riders and back-riders alike, is to think that being a back-rider or a pillion rider is as easy as getting on that motorcycle backseat and grabbing unto the drivers waist. But unfortunately, its not the case and we are pointing this out since there's that dangerous possibility that your pillion rider will unconsciously try to balance or subconsciously produce unnecessary movements when you're tackling that corner at speed, therefore disrupting both your rhythm and balance. Yikes!
Also, don't forget step number 2 as your passenger will need all the gear that they could wear, as much as you do.
9. Carry Essential Motorcycle Tools
In a perfect world, you won't really have to worry about this especially if you have a well maintained motorcycle, but anything can happen on the road so having a good pair of tools handy can help avoid long trip delays and inconvenience. Some of the regular ones that you will need, just in case, are tire puncture repair kits, a screw driver, a sparkplug wrench, etc. Also, know that most if not all motorcycles today come with a tool kit from the factory already so it's pertinent that those remain on their respective compartments on your motorbike before hitting the road.
10. Check the Weather Forecast
Do you regularly check the weather before riding out? Well, do you need to? Yes, a big yes to that. Getting soaked in the rain while you are riding your motorcycle could be a real bummer after all, especially if, say, you are heading to work, riding out with friends, or even while you are running an important errand for your partner or parents. What's even more annoying is the laundry part after the fact. So yes, it helps if you downloads a weather forecast app on your phone so you can quickly check and anticipate the possible riding conditions prior to heading out.
Also, at this point it's already common knowledge that driving on wet conditions is more risky and dangerous, so checking the weather beforehand gives you ample time to prepare and anticipate how the road and riding conditions will look like prior to you getting on that motorbike and riding it out in the open. It's normally best to stay indoors if the weather doesn't look promising but if you need to ride out of necessity, then this helps you prepare the right gear and equipment, like a rain coat for example. It's definitely convenient when you have one on you and it suddenly starts to rain, right?