6 Tips for Beginner Motorcycle Riders
Posted by Jason Harrington on October 14, 2014. 0 Comments
By Jason Harrington
Giving up 4 wheels for 2 can be a scary thought for new riders. However, the freedom and excitement that comes with riding a motorcycle is something that can’t be found anywhere else. Below are 6 tips for any new rider about to head out on the road.
1: Take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Course
If there is 1 tip I would give to any rider regardless of experience it would be to attend a Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider safety course. There are always new things you can learn. If you are new to riding, being in the structured, safe environment will allow you to get familiar with how a bike feels, turns, accelerates, and stops. This will help build your confidence with riding before you get out on the road. Also, completing the course usually means you get a discount on your insurance. You can find a course near you at http://www.msf-usa.org/
2: Get the Right Gear
If you are new to riding then make sure you wear the right gear to protect yourself in case of the worst. While you are learning (and even after you are a pro), make sure you always wear a helmet. Statistics show that wearing a helmet reduces the chance of a head injury in an accident. This is your most important gear purchase so make sure you research and compare helmets before buying. Also, go to the store where you can try one on to make sure it fits correctly and don’t rely on buying your helmet from the internet. Too tight and you won’t wear it because it’s uncomfortable, too loose and it could come off during an accident. Anytime you are riding, regardless of how short the distance, make sure you helmet is securely fastened or again it could slide off during an accident. Also, invest in some good gloves, boots, and a jacket. These items will protect against road rash in case you have a spill. Trust me road rash is not fun. Also, your gloves will give you protection against insects or raindrops which at riding speed can feel like needles.
3: Start Small and Comfortable
This goes for both your bike and your routes. First, when you get your bike make sure it fits you. When you sit on your bike your feet should touch the ground and your arms should easily reach the handle bars. If you bike feels too heavy then it probably is. Being a novice rider and having a heavy bike can be a drain on your confidence when in traffic. I’ve been there before and all I could think about is not tipping my bike over at a stop light. This is not something you want to be thinking about when you are just starting to ride. Secondly, when you are first starting to ride keep your routes to areas that you are comfortable with. Try to avoid interstates or heavily congested areas until you comfortable on your bike.
4: Know Your Riding Level and Avoid Peer Pressure
When you are just starting to ride, know your riding level. Don’t try to pop wheelies, do tricks, or excessively speed, which can be a recipe for disaster. When you start riding with a group don’t let them pressure you into pushing your comfort zone limits. Trust me, looking silly for not trying to pop a wheelie is nothing compared to how you look after you fail and have road rash on half your body. If you don’t feel comfortable with your crowd then find someone else to ride with. Check online forums or your local dealership for other groups.
5: Watch for Debris
This is something that new riders can miss. A motorcycle has much less contact to the road than a car, which means that the tires are more prone to lose traction on debris. Always keep an eye out for oil spots, sand, or gravel. The worst place to encounter these items are in a curve when your bike is the most likely to lose traction. Keep an eye out for this debris or look ahead for places that may generate this type of debris. For instance if you notice a gravel driveway meeting the road in front of you then chances are there will be gravel in the road ahead. The best pointer for when you encounter this debris is to treat it like you do ice when driving a car. Don’t make any sudden movements and don’t accelerate heavily as it may cause you to lose traction.
6: Be Prepared for the Worst and Be Paranoid.
The importance of this can’t be stated enough. With the prevalence of texting while driving and distracted driving, it has become critical for a biker to master defensive driving. New and old riders alike should always be scanning the road ahead and behind of them for problems. While doing this a biker should always be preparing for the worst situation to happen. Never assume that someone will see you, always be prepared with an ‘escape plan’ in case someone pulls out in front of you or pulls into your lane. This can mean slowing down or speeding up to get past a group of vehicles. Also, be paranoid on the road and ride like you are invisible. There are a number of great safety products you can buy that will improve you visibility on the road. Gearbrake is a product which can sense when you are slowing down due to downshifting or engine braking and will automatically flash your brake lights to alert vehicles behind you that you are slowing. Get yours here.