Over the years we have received a lot of questions from newer riders who are either just getting into motorcycling or are maybe completely inexperienced and just looking into what it might be like to ride. One of the biggest concerns new riders have is safety – and whether it’s due to their own desire for self-preservation or perhaps an overprotective spouse or parent, new riders need answers: just how dangerous is it to ride a motorcycle?
Well, certainly there is risk. Anyone who rides can tell you that. You are much more vulnerable on a motorcycle, fully exposed, versus a car with crumple zones, seat belts, and airbags. It’s also a lot harder for other drivers to see a motorcycle, we are physically much smaller than the other cars and trucks on the road. And that’s why you should always ride like you’re invisible. In fact, that point is so important we made a whole video dedicated to the concept. But it bears repeating here: One of the best things you can do for your safety while riding a motorcycle is to act like everyone else on the road has no idea that you are there. Assume they will merge into you, or pull out in front of you, because eventually – they will. If you are mentally prepared to deal with it you’ll have much greater chances of avoiding a collision or laying the bike down in a panic.
Another challenge new riders face, besides just learning the muscle memory of clutch, shift, throttle, brake – is the actual weight of the bike. Most new riders will drop their bike at least once. That’s because even a small bike, at 300lbs, is a lot of weight to hold up, and once you get past a certain tipping point, it’s just going to go over, with or without you. Knowing this, it’s important to carefully plan where you stop. Many intersections have depressions from the tires of cars and trucks, with a crown in the middle. You’ll want to avoid the middle for a few reasons, one is the oil that builds up in this area, slippery ground makes for bad footing and bad traction. The other is you may not even be able to reach the ground in some cases, especially if you already have a good reach to the ground due to leg length and seat height. So stay in the car tire tracks, you’ll be much more stable. Along those same lines, be very careful on slopes, especially steep driveways or parking lots. If you get sideways on a hill and start to tip towards the downhill side, many times there’s nothing you can do to stop it – by the time your foot reaches the ground it’s just too late – so plan ahead.
Lastly you need to wear the proper gear for riding. Sure this may seem like an extra big expense, especially if you just went through buying your first bike. But really, you should have factored in your motorcycle gear right along with the cost of the bike itself – yes, it’s that important.
A good helmet may seem obvious, but don’t neglect the rest of your body: dress for the crash, not the ride. Having said that, buy gear that is comfortable for your body and climate, gear that you’ll actually wear – it does you no good if it’s sitting at home in a closet. And going back to dropping the bike – wear proper motorcycle boots. If you wear boots or riding shoes with laces, make SURE the laces are tucked away so they can’t be snagged on the bike. It’s happened to me, it could very well happen to you too.
We hope you have found this article and video helpful. If you are a newer rider or a very experienced rider, we’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have any other tips to share or questions about riding – leave them in the comments below.
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