When it comes to getting from one place to another, motorcycles are as effective as a motor vehicle. However, the only drawback of travelling by bike is that they are not as safe as cars. People used to travelling by car usually take all the safety features for granted but if they have to use a bike once in a while, they may be in for a surprise.
If a motorcycle is involved in a crash or collision, all the force of the collision is borne by the bike and the biker directly as motorcycles do not have an exterior frame to absorb the crash force. Despite the drawbacks, those who love to ride bikes are not let down because of the lack of safety features. They can still enjoy a motorcycle ride by following these top 10 motorcycle safety tips.
1. Take a motorcycle safety course
The first and most important thing for any motorcyclist to do is to take a course in motorcycle safety. These courses are offered in all states, but they are not mandatory. They are aimed at teaching motorcyclists about safety and traffic safety laws that apply to motorcycles. The courses also teach how to respond to emergency situations and motorcyclists can also try out new skills in a controlled environment.
2. Wear the right gear
Getting the right kind of gear to wear while you ride a bike is crucial. You just don't have to look good on your bike, you also have to feel protected in case there is an accident. A lot of motorcyclists wear leather as it is strong and can protect the skin of the rider if they fall and slide along the surface of the road due to any road hazard. Specialized motorcycle gear is also available, which includes vented motorcycle jackets and armored motorcycle gear.
3. Protect your feet
Wearing the right shoes is also very crucial to ride safely. Open-toed shoes do not have a strong grip and they can become painful very fast as you lift your toes to shift gears. Your feet can also burn because the engine and exhaust system of the bike get hot very fast. Open toed shoes like flip-flops can also slip off, so you want sturdy shoes when riding a motorcycle as they are the only protection your feet have on a bike. Choose rugged shoes as shoes that have smooth soles may cause slipping. You will also need shoes that have a firm grip as you use your feet to balance when you stop at a sign. Boots made of durable material with low heel and sturdy ankle support provide better protection.
4. Ride within your skills
Motorcycle riding takes practice just like anything else. Practice well to improve your skills. Also understand that it takes time to grow your skills and become an expert rider. Make sure you always ride within your skill level to stay safe. If you are a beginner, you may not be able to go super fast or weave in and out of traffic like expert motorcyclists. Staying in control of your bike on curvy roads is also an art which takes time to master. Build your skills over time and until then, ride within your skills.
5. Avoid distractions
This may seem an obvious tip, but there are a lot of people who ignore it. Mobile phones are a big distraction on the road and can lead to serious accidents. Other bikers are distracted by an mp3 player and they may even be fidgeting with their headphones while they ride a bike. Don't wear headphones while driving and put your phone away where you cannot assess it. The less distractions there are, the more likely you will reach home safely.
Another important tip to take care of is not to take your hands off your handlebars. There could be a road hazard ahead, like a rock or a ditch and if you are not in control, the bike may slip and slide. If your hands are off the handlebars, you won't be able to accelerate or brake when needed.
6. Leave enough space
A lot of motorcyclists think that they can squeeze through heavy traffic and weave their way around, but that is not correct. This is one of the biggest mistakes motorcyclists make if they are not leaving enough distance around them. Not all bikes have anti-lock brakes, which means they can't slam on the brakes whenever they need like in a motor vehicle. Sudden brakes on motorcycles usually lead to an asphalt slide. Make sure you practice stops on your bike in a safe environment so you know how much space you need to come to a stop.
7. Avoid bad weather
Riding a bike in the rain or during fog is a lot riskier than driving an automobile. Rain not only causes slippery roads, but it also cuts your visibility significantly, and so does fog. However, if you find yourself going out in the rain, avoid making sudden maneuvers. Brake and steer gently and if you are riding against strong winds, be proactive and move to the side to avoid coming in direct path where the wind is coming from.
8. Watch out for road hazards
Just like you need to watch out for bad weather, you also need to watch out for road hazards like bumps, potholes, ditches, sand, wet leaves, oil or water spills etc. You also need to be on the lookout for any sudden encounters, like a cat or dog running in front on the road. Small potholes that might not be significant when on a car, can pose serious danger to bikers. If you encounter any road hazard, slow down as much as possible with minimal steering. It is also advised to approach railroad tracks and other road hazards close to a right angle to reduce the chances of skidding.
9. Watch out for vehicles
At intersections, it is important to watch out for left-turning vehicles as getting hit by an oncoming vehicle that's turning left is a common type of motorcycle crash. The motorcyclist must also check behind when turning left from a highway. Watch your mirrors and make sure you have plenty of space around you as the driver behind may not slow down for you. Keep your eyes and ears open and look twice before making a turn.
10. Be visible
Wear bright reflecting clothes, especially at night. If you have a passenger with you, make sure they are wearing the proper gear, helmet and clothing as well. You can stick reflective tape to the back and sides of your helmet and keep your headlight on especially at night. Ride in the lane where other drivers can see you easily and avoid other vehicles' blind spots.
There are so many more motorcycle safety tips you can follow to stay safe on the road when riding a motorcycle. Acquaint yourself with all these tips to stay safe.