Some are attracted by fuel efficiency and the traffic slipping ability, for others, it’s the pure thrill of the open road on two wheels. Either way, owning and riding a motorcycle is a fantastic experience.
But there’s also serious tradeoff, your body is far more exposed to the physical forces, especially in the case of an accident! The dangers are compounded by the fact you are less visible to other road users.
For most motorcycle enthusiasts, these risks will not deter you. Instead, focus on increasing your awareness and road safety with these 12 tips for new motorcycles.
1. Always Gear Up
Even in the case of a slight spill, you’ll be truly thankful you wore all your safety gear! On top of physical impact and road rash protection, it also protects you from the wind, debris and weather.
Motorcycle safety gear is health investment, consider this, how much is your head worth?
2. Ride Like a Ghost
One of the biggest causes of motorcycle accidents is not speeding or losing control of the bike, it’s other road users. Due to their size, motorcycles are much harder to see and more easily hidden in blind spots.
Collisions are always far more severe for motorcyclists, so don’t any chances by assuming you’ve been seen. So start riding as if you were invisible, this will help you anticipate problems and react quickly.
3. Cornering 101: Look Where You Want to Go
Motorcycles are highly sensitive to the rider’s inputs, even looking in a direction will cause you to subtly steer towards it.
Whilst cornering, focus on the exit or as far around the corner as possible. Don’t make the mistake of panicking and staring down an obstacle or verge!
4. You Have The Power – So Use it!
Motorcycles have excellent power to weight ratios and can often accelerate quicker than cars.
Use this to your advantage, quickly accelerate to speed match when joining motorways. When it comes to overtaking, a fast, efficient overtake gets you out of the danger zone quicker.
Don’t be afraid to open up that throttle!
5. Keep Your Brake Covered
In certain riding situations, your reaction time needs to be doubled. For example, busy sections of town or fast twisting back roads.
At these times, get into the habit of covering the brake with a finger or two. This posed position allows for quicker reactions, it could be a lifesaver!
6. Squeeze Don’t Yank
Your front brake has the most stopping power, the back brake is more suited to scrubbing speed, especially at lower speeds. Focus 75% of your slowing and stopping power on the front brake.
But quickly stabbing or yanking either brake will cause a loss of traction and control. Apply the brakes in a progressive squeezing manner, you can stop quickly without having an accident!
7. Be Cautious While Filtering
One huge benefit of riding a motorcycle is the ability to filter through traffic jams. It’s perfectly legal so long as you comply with traffic signs and markings on the road.
But don’t let your newfound confidence overtake you, always proceed with caution. Stay in a low gear and have a finger covering the brake. Remain vigilant for signs of vehicles about to side-swipe you, especially at junctions.
8. Watch for Warning Signs
Riding safely is all about anticipating other road users. Don’t rely on logic or reason, look for warning signs and then proceed with caution.
For example, if you see vehicle wheels turning and peeping out across your path, or even an indicator, always assume may pull out without seeing you.
9. Never Forget Your Lifesavers
Mirrors are great for a quick glance but don’t rely on them solely. Before you make your move, always check your blind spot with an over-shoulder lifesaver.
Follow this process every time are about to change your road position or perform a manoeuvre:
- Glance at mirror
- Quickly check your blind spot
- Perform action
10. Always Have an Escape Route
Motorcycles are at a distinct advantage to larger vehicles when it comes to accident avoidance. They are lighter, thinner, more manoeuvrable and can slip through tighter gaps
Always leave a little wiggle room for quick escapes. Instead of simply hammering the brakes whilst heading straight for an obstacle, a quick swerve may be the best option.
11. Survey the Road for Hazards
Motorcyclists have more to worry about than cars. With less rubber contact with the tarmac, traction can be more easily overwhelmed causing a dangerous slide.
You need to quickly identify hazards such as sand, wet patches, leaves, gravel or stones. Also, watch out for bumps and potholes, they can destabilize the bike.
In most cases, you may be able to carefully swerve and avoid them. Otherwise, scrub off as much speed as you can safely, then keep steering/throttle/brake inputs and lean angle to a minimum as you pass over it.
12. Practice Scanning
Motorcycle safety can be greatly enhanced through situational awareness. Scanning is used to stay aware without letting your attention linger from the road ahead for too long!
Quickly take in information from your instruments, speedo, mirrors, blind spots etc. This will allow you identify and react to rising road situations faster.
Featured photo credit: Harley-Davidson via unsplash.com