Tips for First-Time Motorcyclists

If you’re interested in motorcycling, you’ve likely considered taking the plunge and purchasing a bike. Before you do, however, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. 

Although a motorcycle can offer tons of fun and transportation, it can also be a source of danger and stress. Almost 5,000 motorcyclists died in 2018 due to vehicular accidents. Before you pick up a bike, you need to be prepared for the worst. Here are some tips if you’re new to a motorcycle, and how to keep yourself safe on and off the road. 

1. Before Your Ride

One of the most important things you can do as a motorcyclist is a pre-ride inspection. A bike with a broken or damaged part can be just as dangerous as a car accident. 

To perform a pre-ride inspection, you first need to know what kind of bike you have. There are chain bikes and belt bikes. To check out your chain, simply lay your bike gently over and move your rear tire. If you see a chain that is extremely dirty, not moving properly, or super loose, you may need to adjust or replace it. If you’d like to get more into detail with a chain bike, you can find plenty of online tutorials.

A belt bike is a little bit different. Similarly to a chain, you tip your bike over, move the back wheel, and watch the belt move. A belt can have cracks or frays along the edges that prohibit proper movement, and if you have a damaged belt, you need to get it replaced, ASAP.

In addition to a belt or a chain, you should be cautious of any oil leaks or dripping coming from your bike. Just like a car, if your bike is leaking oil, you will definitely need to bring it to a mechanic. Finally, check out your wheels for any punctures, nails, or flatness.

2. Gear

In addition to checking your bike, you also need to wear the right protective gear for a ride. As mentioned earlier, you have far less protection on a bike than you do in a car, and any amount of protective gear is one more layer between you and the road. Obviously, you’ll need a good motorcycle helmet (preferably one approved by the DOT). 

If you do go down, you’ll want a thick layer of protection on your arms and legs unless you like nasty road burn. Your entire body should be covered when you ride, including your ankles. Denim is generally not thick enough, so something leather or armored will be your best bet. Finally, always wear gloves. When you fall, your first instinct will be to reach out, and skinned fingers are no fun. Get gloves specifically manufactured for motorcycling. 

3. Defensive Driving

For a motorcyclist, defensive driving can be the difference between life and death. In a car, you have far more protection and cushion than on a bike. Only .29% of car accidents resulted in fatalities, while around 4% of motorcycle crashes resulted in fatalities. In terms of injury, 78% of crashes result in major injury to the bike driver.

One of the best tips for a motorcyclist is to assume everything is a danger. Every car and truck is out to get you, and you need to be prepared to stop, speed up, or switch lanes if needed. Stay out of blind spots and stay at least one car’s length away from vehicles at all times. In addition, scan the area ahead of you constantly for danger. If you see a potentially hazardous situation (like a construction zone, an accident, etc.), either slow down or move away from the danger.

4. The Law

When it comes to the laws protecting you in an accident, it depends on the situation and the state. In most states, there is a 51% responsibility bar, meaning that you’re allowed to seek compensation as long as you share less than 50% of the blame. The best way to navigate an accident is to get the other party’s insurance, take care of your injuries, and seek compensation with legal assistance if necessary.

With these tips in mind, you should be prepared for the dangers of the road. Have fun riding safely, and never be afraid to slow down!

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