Motorcycle Articles and Tips

Five Essential Motorcycle Safety Tips

Posted on November 29, 2011 | in Motorcycle Safety | by

Here are a few safety tips I feel would rank being top of the list. Some might seem like overkill, but think about it…think what can go wrong if you ignore your bike, and how it could have been prevented.

Oh sure…it is cool to cruise down a scenic wooded lane on your bike..tank top..short pants..flip flops or tennis shoes…can of beer in your cup holder..doo rag on your head. You are a big, bad, tough biker, right? Suddenly, out of nowhere, a deer comes off the shoulder and is right in front of you.

Another picture: You are motoring down a quiet residential street, almost back home after a long tiring ride..your mind is on other things..wondering if the dog needs to go outside..what’s for supper, you are starving…and “geez, I wish I hadn’t drank all that soda..can I make it home” Out of nowhere a little old blue-haired lady pulls out of a stop sign right in your path.

Lastly, you are buzzing along the interstate at the speed limit, say 70 mph..suddenly your rear tire blows..

Pretty scary, huh?

As bikers, we accept a certain amount of risk. We should do as much as we can to minimize that risk and make it home safely. How?

Invest in good quality riding gear.

The important purpose of quality riding gear is protection in the event we go down while riding. Leather gloves, boots, a leather or textile riding jacket, maybe with padding on the back and shoulders is a must. Be aware that fashion type leather jackets are just too thin to provide adequate protection. This is the same with a thin, light textile jacket. When sliding on asphalt, there lighter garments wear through and expose your skin to the highly abrasive road surface in a matter of seconds. A good riding jacket will withstand impact and resist abrasion for a few seconds longer…enough for you to stop sliding. Heavy leather or the padding in the textile jacket will help hold you together on impact, to a certain degree.

As a added safety benefit, you should try to buy brightly colored jackets or helmets. My wife laughs at me because I wear a white helmet. She says she can see it for a mile. My reply to her? “Well, you saw me didn’t you?” That is the whole point.

Take a Motorcycle Training Course

This is something that every rider, new or experienced should do. You can learn quite a bit by taking one of these courses. Even the more experienced riders occasionally get complacent and might need to brush up on a few skills. From my personal experience, this was time and money well spent. I was still reasonably new to riding (approximately 2000 miles) when I was involved in my first accident. I had taken the MSF (Motorcyle Safety Foundation) Basic rider course and we had drilled into us by practicing over and over evasive maneuvers, getting the big picture, and emergency situations. When a driver came around a curve on MY side of the roadway, I just reacted. Didn’t think. I just reacted and took the ditch instead of having an “OH SHOOT!” moment and hitting him head on. Sure I got banged up a little, but me and the bike are still on the road today. That was the best money and time I ever spent.

Practicing Riding Skills

Try spending a little time on an empty parking lot with your little orange cones practicing handling skills like weaving, U-turns (very important!), emergency braking, using the clutch friction zone for slow maneuvers and smooth takeoffs. Practice counter steering techniques for evasive action. When you are on the road and no traffic, work with your countersteering in turns to build confidence and skill.

Seeing the Big Picture

Always keep your eyes moving and not fixed on one thing. Try to take in what traffic is doing farther down the road so you won’t be surprised. Glance to the sides of the road or street to watch for cars ready to pull out, kids at play, livestock along the roadside, anything that can come out in front of you unexpectedly. I was told once by an old time rider “Ride like everybody is out to get you.” Now, don’t get paranoid, but pay attention!

Pre-Ride Check

Always do a pre-ride check of your bike. Walk around it, inspect tires and check the tire pressures, check for loose nuts, bolts, hoses, foot pegs and fasteners, levers, mirrors….anything that come come off at an inopportune moment and cause you to crash. Check your lights..make sure the headlight, tail light, brake light and signal indicators work. Be sure to check your mirror adjustment before heading out.

The following video I ran across covers some of these points, so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!

Ride Often! Ride Safe! But most of all…Enjoy the Ride!

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