Are You A New Rider? 11 Helpful Tips
Becoming an experienced motorcycle rider will not happen overnight. Even after reading every instruction guide on “How To Become An Expert Rider” and spending all your free time on your bike, mastering motorcycle control skills is a conscious, ongoing process that needs to be upheld and maintained.
It is important to remember that even the most experienced riders, with professional riding capabilities, are at risk of being involved in a collision simply because they are traveling on the roads. Think: Wrong time, wrong place.
The average motorcycle weighs about 400 pounds while the average weight of a traditional car is 4,000 pounds. The weight difference alone puts the motorcyclist at a disadvantage.
We’ve compiled the following 11 tips for new motorcycle riders to ensure the time spent on their new machine is enjoyable.
Motorcycle tips for novice riders
If we want to become a master of something, we study that subject, right? Motorcycle riding is no different. Study and absorb everything relevant to the sport from the bikes to the gear and riding techniques. Experienced riders know every inch of their motorcycle.
2. Hone your skills
It is highly encouraged to find a Motorcycle Safety Foundation riding course or a similar class in your area to teach you not only the basics of riding but advanced techniques including emergency maneuvers. These cost of these courses may range from free to about $350.00. You may also be eligible for an insurance discount if you take an approved safety course or even a credit towards a new motorcycle that some manufacturers offer. Look for a course location near you here.
3. Invest in antilock brakes
Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows motorcycles that are equipped with antilock brakes are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal car wreck, than motorcycles without the technology.
An antilock braking system will help you regain steering control during an emergency stop. Without it, locking up the brakes when in a panic can cause a rider to lose steering control. Riders may skid across the road and collide with something or someone.
4. Have the right gear
We cannot stress the importance of wearing the right gear while riding to protect yourself. Wearing a helmet can be the difference between your life and death in the event you are involved in a crash. If you choose to ride without a helmet, you are 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury in a crash and three times more likely to suffer brain injuries, than if you would have chosen to wear a helmet.
Leave the shorts and flip flops poolside. Jackets, gloves, boots and eye protection should be considered a must to protect you from wind chill, flying debris and painful road rash. Although they may not be your choice of fashionable accessories, if you ever take a spill, you will be thankful for your gear.
5. Keep an eye out
Veteran riders are always aware of their surroundings and are ahead of the situation. They scan the road and the approaching intersections to monitor the behavior of other people sharing the road.
You are much more vulnerable on a motorcycle than you are when driving a car. In fact, when collisions occur, it is more often than not that the driver of the car was at fault. Many times, the vehicle’s driver will claim they did not see the motorcycle, which led to them either pulling out in front of or turning in front of the motorcyclist. Since those in a cage (car, truck or van) will not be looking out for you, you have to look out for them and yourself. Anticipating dangerous scenarios up ahead will make it easier for you to move out of the way or brake as necessary.
Target fixation is a common problem for new riders. Your motorcycle tends to go where you are looking, which is one of the leading causes of motorcycle collisions. Look where you want to go, and not at the object you are worried about colliding with.
6. Stay humble
Experienced riders understand that they are human, imperfect and mortal. They work hard not to put themselves in situations that will exceed the limits of their machine as well as their skill set. There is an old proverb “pride goeth before a fall,” and in the motorcycle world this translates to “pride goeth before the crumbling of your machine against a guardrail and a visit to the hospital for a broken collarbone and a ruptured spleen.”
Anyone can have skills that with time get rusty if they are not practiced from time to time. Veteran riders practice periodically to revisit skills such as max braking drills. Practice turning left and right in circles. Turning left is generally easier than turning right on a motorcycle for two reasons:
It is easier to push the handlebar away with your dominant arm, and most people are right-handed. More significantly, the rear brake lever is on the right side making it more difficult to brake and put a foot down if needed while turning right. Think about motocross racing for example. In these type of races, the first turn is usually a left-hander allowing riders to brake while keeping their balance at the same time. By practicing turning in circles, you will help improve your balance, and slow speed tight- quarter maneuvering.
8. Be patient
Many mistakes committed by riders on the road occur when the rider is in a hurry. In haste, riders might try to pass another vehicle at an inappropriate time and swerve in and out of lanes recklessly. If riding alongside a buddy, it can be tempting to hurry past an unfamiliar road to keep up with them. Experienced riders know it is not worth the risk, instead they will wait for an opportunity to clear out of traffic safely. You will have the time to make the best decisions while on the road if you stay patient.
The more seat time you accumulate, the more you will learn. Try not to ride the same commute every day, instead seek out different riding challenges from city traffic to twisty roads to round out your skill set. The human learning process requires repetition, which means if you want to ingrain the skills you need to be a proficient rider, you must spend a large amount of time riding on a variety of roads.
10. Consider the weather
Bad weather comes with visibility issues and lack of traction. Given that motorcycles only have two wheels, rain is your tire’s enemy. When it rains, your tires will lose grip, making cornering very tricky. Water can cause oil residue to rise to the top, which means it is most dangerous to ride right after it starts to rain. Slick roads will also make it easier for your motorcycle to slide. Although it is best to avoid riding if it is raining or snowing, if you must, go slowly and make sure you leave plenty of space for stopping.
11. Last, but not least, enjoy your ride
Of course, safety is the number one concern for most new riders. But, just because you are being as safe as possible, does not mean you should not enjoy this new venture to the fullest. Remember we are all human and just like with anything else in life, we will have our individual strengths and weaknesses when it comes to riding a motorcycle. It is now up to you to put effort into minimizing the risks that come with the territory.
How The Carlson Law Firm can help
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle collision, it is important that you contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney as soon as possible. Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we understand the challenges that may arise after a motorcycle collision and are ready to tackle them with the knowledge and resources we have gained with over four decades of helping those injured in motorcycle crashes. We will not only fight for the maximum compensation on your behalf, we will also ensure your physical recovery.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We care, we can help.
- Written by Adriana Torres