Congratulations! You’ve decided to try something new – motorcycle riding.
Getting on a brand new bike is one of the most exhilarating things you’ll do. But, there are a few things novice riders must know before hitting the streets.
About the Bike
The more you ride, the more in tune you’ll become one with your bike. Here are a few tips to help you get there faster so you can have a safer, more enjoyable ride.
- Don’t make your dream bike your first bike.
As tempting as it is to go big with the bike of your dreams on day one, you will probably regret spending all that money up front. There are a few reasons for this.
First, beginner riders usually end up dropping their bike once or twice, which can scratch it or ding it up. Don’t let that happen to the bike of your dreams.
Second, you don’t quite know what you love yet. Let yourself get used to riding on a mechanically sound, basic bike to figure out which features are must haves and which ones you can live without.
- Test out the horsepower before you buy.
As a new rider, you might not want as much horsepower as you think. Sure, it’s tempting to feel the power of a big V-Twin engine, but in reality, too much power might be enough to scare you away from riding all together. Remember, your first bike is only the beginning. Start easy and work your way up with your next bike when you know what you want.
- Take care of your new ride
Until now we’ve talked about the importance of getting a bike that isn’t on your bucket list of motorcycles to own. But that doesn’t mean you should stop caring for your motorcycle.
Get in the habit now of taking good care of your new chopper. Although it might not have all the bells and whistles you want, it’s yours. The better condition you keep it in, the more likely it is to treat you well on the road and for the long haul.
About the Gear
Buying a new motorcycle is a great excuse to make room in your closet for a new riding wardrobe. The gear that goes along with safe riding is important and part of the experience. Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Safety before weather.
No matter whether you’re riding in frigid cold temperatures or the dog days of summer, you must be properly suited. Gloves, jackets with padding and boots are essentials. Not only do you need the right gear to stop serious road rash and major injuries in case of a crash, but you also need it to defend against debris in the road. Your skin wasn’t designed to withstand impacts at high speeds. Gear helps stop or minimize the blow.
- Get the right helmet.
45% of all impacts to motorcycle helmets occur around the face, according to a study by Dietmar Otte. Not the top of the head. Not the side of the head. The face.
Buying a cheaper helmet that doesn’t fully cover your face is a recipe for disaster. Even with eye protection, you’re leaving your precious mug exposed to a myriad of roadside threats. If a major collision happens, you’re equally at risk. Do yourself a favor and get a motorcycle helmet that fully covers your head and face.
- Get a cover for your bike.
You aren’t the only item in the motorcycle riding equation that needs gear from the get go. Part of keeping your bike in pristine condition is covering it up when you’re not riding. This is especially important during the cold winter months when driveways are covered in salt and snow, or during the rainy months when mud, dirt and grime can cause damage. Cover up your bike to keep it lasting for longer.
About the Law
When it comes to motorcycle laws, every state is different. Still, there are a few general laws that you should be aware of.
- You need a license.
This might sound obvious, but it’s not. Putting that piece of plastic in your pocket while you ride will do more than get you out of a ticket and hefty fine. Riders who don’t have a license tend to ride with an attitude of immortality. They take shortcuts and dangerous risks – ones that riders who have been through training to get a license wouldn’t take. Follow the law and get your motorcycle license before you get on the back of your bike.
- Helmet laws.
Every state is different when it comes to helmet laws. What is it in your state? What is it in the states where you’ll be riding?
Helmet laws are important to follow! You cannot play ignorant if you’re pulled over and expect to get out of a large fine. Police aren’t soft about punishing people who break helmet laws, so it’s in your best interest to know them before you ride.
About the Street Rules
The law isn’t the only thing you should follow. There are certain unwritten rules of the road for motorcyclists to know.
- Keep your distance when passing.
Car lanes might be big enough for motorcyclists to ride two to a lane, but that doesn’t mean you should take every opportunity to use the lane on your ride. If you want to pass another motorcyclist, change lanes. Don’t sneak up on the rider in front of you, especially at higher speeds. Keep your distance, especially as you learn to ride.
- Point out obstacles.
If you’re riding ahead of another motorcyclist, do him a favor and point out any obstacles in the road. For example, if you pass a pothole, point down at it as you pass it so the rider behind you knows it’s there.
- Ride like you’re invisible.
Never, never, never assume another driver saw you on the roadway. Ride like you’re invisible to other drivers. Defensive riding like this is the best way to prevent a serious accident.
- Join a group.
Probably one of the best ways to learn the rules of the road (especially in your area) is to join a riding group. There are many to choose from. Look at meetup.com to find some in your area. Or, you can join the American Motorcyclists Association to find a group near you.
Remember, safe riding starts with you. By following these tips, you’re more likely to fall in love with your bike and your rides.