8 Tips For New Motorcycle Riders Looking to Avoid Needless Risks & Stay Safe
Motorcycles are fun, and there’s nothing like powering down winding roads by yourself with the wind in your face. But bikes can be much riskier than cars when things go down. If you’re new to riding, you will want to learn how to ride with less chance of injuries.
The idea is to strengthen the odds in your favor by avoiding needless risks and by training to be always alert and ready for any situation.
Biking fast but safely has always been my thing, and I’d like to share a few guidelines on how to keep on rolling as skillfully and safely as you can.
1. Dress protectively.
Clothes designed with protections can shield you from onrushing wind, insects, and street debris as you plow ahead. Waterproof jackets will keep rain from thoroughly soaking you on the road. Along with a full helmet, a pair of good boots, gloves, and a jacket can help cushion your fall and lessen scrapes in the event.
Biking gloves feature reinforcements to protect your hands and will also help you get a better grip on the handles and controls. The motorcycle gloves either vent heat and air for comfort during warm seasons, or are insulated to keep out the cold. Multi-season jackets can be worthwhile as they will shield your torso against turbulent winds and can protect your skin from worse scrapes during falls. Tip: On longer rides, you would be wise to put on the best motorcycle boots to protect your ankles.
You also cannot go wrong with an additional pair of lightweight goggles to protect your eyes. Speaking of sight, most car drivers who have been in accidents with motorcycles frequently claim not to have seen them. It follows that you should wear clothes and accessories that come in brilliant and easy-to-see colors.
2. Put on a helmet.
You will have noticed that most bikers wear helmets and many are dressed in road wear. That’s because those without helmets on during crashes are more likely to suffer fatal injuries and are far more exposed to long-term brain damage. Always wear a helmet each time you go off, no matter how short the trip.
Helmets also help to reduce noises from the wind and surroundings, which lessens fatigue. Half or brain-cap helmets feature much less protection than full types or those with flip-up visors. In any case, keeping a helmet unlocked is almost the same as having none on when spills happen, so use one properly!
DOT-certified models that protect the face are your best bets, like Fuel’s affordable full-face model.
Other helmet ratings like Snell are a plus and will point you well-designed and robust models that are light and comfortable.
3. Get a bike you can readily handle.
If it’s been some time since you have last ridden, you might find astounding performance in the newest bikes. If you’re buying one, make sure that you can readily mount it with both feet flattened on the pavement, without need to balance yourself once seated. Grip levers and handlebars must be easily reachable, and if the bike feels too heavy it probably won’t suit you.
Smaller Twin-block engines of up to 300 cc with smooth and predictable power delivery are good for beginners or for daily rides. If you will be gliding the highways a lot, a bigger engine of up to 750 cc will provide you power to readily merge into exit traffic. A good list with guidelines: Best Starter Motorcycles for 2017.
4. Balance your stance on the go.
If it is your first to be riding your bike in traffic, it won’t be surprising if you find yourself somewhat stiff and working your muscles more than necessary. A taut stance is not the best, because squeezing your knees hard on the frame and grabbing the handles too tightly will have you ride poorly. With this style of riding, you will tire you out quickly.
If you are tight on the handlebars, you will steer badly as well. It’s important to be moderate on the throttle or easy on the clutch and brakes to get many maneuvers right. When turning, you should try to balance on the frame by shifting your body slightly, and it helps to relax a little while doing so.
5. Tighten down low, loosen up high.
The best way to stay seated is to hold the bike’s frame using your thighs and knees. It is not in how you grip the handlebars or lean on them. You should be using your hands to steer, throttle, and brake as well as signal to others.
Hold onto the frame with your lower body and legs in a comfortable yet firm stance that joins you to the bike below your waistline. Keep your upper torso much more flexible and relaxed. Flexing your arms at the handlebars does work to damp street bumps and rumbles reaching you via the front fork.
6. Practice riding.
It is a smart idea to join up with one or two helpful riders. With patient friends, you can see how they turn and brake as well as pass cars and obstacles, gaining confidence as you learn from them. You do not want to force the learning process, and your initial goal is to find out how to ride roads safely with cars around.
If you are always alert to your surroundings, you’ll avoid many painful surprises. As you learn you spot problems from farther away, you’ll be better able to angle your turns with less steering and with more stability on the go.
7. Play defense always.
The majority of accidents happen when bikers neglect the dangers ahead and around them. There’s a wise saying, “ride as if you’re invisible”. This teaches riders not to rely on the competence and attention of drivers and other road users, especially in this age of distracted drivers using mobile devices.
Bikers have to always be alert and on the lookout for vehicles that can suddenly swerve across lanes or come from the sides. You should always keep a safe distance between you and vehicles ahead, with a few seconds worth of reaction time and braking distance to deal with any upcoming hazards. Spotting and anticipating what’s coming up increases your chances of escaping serious falls and injuries, and is what defensive riding is all about.
8. Avoid riding in poor weather if possible.
There’s nothing like a slippery or dark road for increasing the chances of deadly mistakes. Pouring rain also reduces visibility, and water on the ground forms pools and streams of water that your tires splash into. If you have to go anyway, keep in mind that the riskiest time is when it’s just beginning to pour, as pooling water acts to lift any oils in the ground to the surface.
For many situations, you will find it best to avoid quick moves and a heavy touch on the throttle, steering, and throttle. In windy conditions, try to anticipate gusts pushing from sides by shifting your path sideways against them, to afford you more maneuvering room.
(BONUS) Train to Ride Safely
One other thing I strongly advise beginners is to attend an MSF riding course. Motorcycle Safety Foundation classes teach essential and advanced techniques like emergency evasion in sudden encounters, and costs range from nothing to a little below $400. Taking the tests may gain you eligibility for insurance discounts, while certain States will waive the practical or the written part of their licensing programs.