11 Motorcycle Tips For Riding Safely

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Mr. Chase Manhattan

As the weather gets warmer, more and more people are hitting the open road on their motorcycles. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or just getting started, it’s important to brush up on your safety skills. As anyone, who has been riding for any significant length of time, would tell you, accidents happen in the blink of an eye. Many of us, including myself, are inclined to believe that we will have plenty of time to react but that isn’t always the case. I’ve unfortunately learned this the hard way when I crashed my first motorcycle in normal commuter traffic.

Here are 11 tips for staying safe while riding your motorcycle:

1. Wear the right gear

Motorcycle safety is all about being visible and protected. Invest in a good quality helmet that fits properly, and make sure to wear bright, reflective clothing. motorcycle boots and gloves, at a minimum, will also help protect you in the event of an accident. I was formerly someone who would very frequently wear a t-shirt for ‘short rides’, but no longer is that the case. After spending some time at the track, and some time on the ground, at the track, I’ve completely changed my mind. Even through my brand new Alpinestars leather suit, I still managed to get some road rash coupled by a mild concussion. Let me tell you though, after seeing the worn away kevlar on my knuckles, I will not ride without gloves ever again.

2. Be aware of your surroundings

Motorcycle riders need to be extra vigilant when it comes to monitoring traffic and road conditions. Always give yourself plenty of space between you and other vehicles, and be prepared to take evasive action if necessary. This is why other riders will always tell you to keep your head on a swivel. Conditions can change very quickly on the road, and other motorists can never be accounted for, they are highly unpredictable as all human behavior. Always expect the worst, and prepare for exactly that. I recommend accounting for any potential hazards by keeping your eyes high and on the road ahead.

3. Stay within your limits

Don’t push yourself beyond your skill level, and never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you’re tired or not feeling 100%, it’s better to call it a day than risk an accident. In other words, no street Rossi riders are allowed here. We all know a squid or two that has some self-proclaimed ‘battle scars’ from that one accident in that one place. Crashing is never cool and is never something to brag about. By all means, as a responsible rider, you ride with the intention of making it home and riding again another day. Along with this responsibility, the point is to always ride within your means. You’ve heard that before right? Going fast on a track is one thing, but going fast on public roads where you don’t know what is around the corner – is flat-out irresponsible and reckless.

4. Be patient

Motorcycle riders are often seen as impatient and aggressive, but this isn’t the best way to stay safe on the road. Remember that you’re sharing the road with other users, so don’t try to weave in and out of traffic. Remember that you are the one who is on a small machine traveling at high rates of speed without airbags or other protection devices. If it comes down to it, you must act like you are the ‘big man’ in the situation. Do not get combative with other drivers, respect their spaces, their vehicles, and basically everything else. A car can hit you and, most of the time, drive away without an issue; worst-case scenario, their airbags deploy. Motorcyclists do not have this buffer or room for error.

5. Ride defensively

Many “defensive riding” tactics, we’ve pretty much covered earlier in this list. It basically comes down to remembering that you are the most vulnerable party in any potential road-going incident. A car driver will have many forms of protection should the worst happen, you will not so act accordingly. Defensive riding comes down to anticipation, preparation, and execution. You should expect the worst at all times, expect that every driver around you will try to kill you at one point, and always make sure that your riding skills are as sharp as possible. Anticipation and preparation will only go so far if you are not able to execute your game play due to a lack of skills.

6. Enjoy the ride

Enjoy the ride
Photo by Harley-Davidson on Unsplash

Motorcycle riding can be an exhilarating experience, but it’s important to stay focused and not let yourself get distracted. Keep your eyes on the road and enjoy the scenery, but don’t take unnecessary risks. motorcycle safety is all about being prepared and using common sense. By following these tips, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable riding season for everyone.

Remember that your goal as a motorcycling is to make it home so you can ride again another day. I see so many motorcycle accidents in Atlanta that could have been avoided with this simple mindset. Sportbikes and squids weaving in and out of traffic, lane splitting (not legal here), racing, wheelies, and more… No wonder we have such a bad reputation huh?

7. Use your signals

Always signal when you’re turning or changing lanes, and be sure to cancel your signal after you’ve made your move. motorcycle turn signals are often not as bright as car signals, so it’s important to make sure that other drivers can see them.

Yes that’s right. You have a responsibility as a rider to communicate with other drivers on the road. Don’t get aggravated with drivers unexpectedly merging into you if you’re not able to follow your own advice. Always use your signals, and double check before changing lanes. Cars can move quickly, and unexpectedly change position before you know it.

8. Follow the rules of the road

Motorcycle riders are subject to the same traffic laws as other motorists, so be sure to obey all speed limits and traffic signals. Remember that you’re sharing the road with other users, so don’t try to weave in and out of traffic or cut people off.

Like we mentioned before, the amount of motorcycle accidents I see is incredible – in the worst way.

The best advice I’ve ever received is, “ride like you’re driving a car and you’ll be ok”. In other words, ride the same way that you would drive. Place your self in standard positions, that a driver would expect to see another car. Many times the first thing a driver will say in an accident is “I didn’t see you!”. Remember that this is the case, the truth, and likely not an excuse. It is your job to make sure that you’re seen by all individuals on the road.

9. Watch for hazards

Be on the lookout for potential hazards, such as potholes, debris, and animals. motorcycle tires are especially vulnerable to potholes and other road hazards, so it’s important to avoid them if possible. If you can’t avoid a hazard, slow down

Have you ever hit a tire, or gone over road kill at a high rate of speed? If you have then you know exactly what this feels like. Cold blood running through your veins, a flushed face, thumping heart rate and a puckered….

No really though, watch for hazards at all times. Miscellaneous road hazards can appear at the most unsuspecting times, this is why I preach to always plan for the worst and be aware at all times.

10. Don’t tailgate

Following too closely behind another vehicle can be dangerous, especially if they make sudden stops. motorcycle riders need to give themselves plenty of space to stop, so always leave plenty of room between you and the car in front of you.

Like I’ve been saying, be respectful on the road. Give car drivers the same respect that you expect as a motorcyclist. Leave plenty of room behind cars, and also to the sides. Many drivers will give you a bad reputation immediately, only from the experiences they’ve had with other riders. Be the example, not the statistic.

11. Use your headlight

Use your motorcycle headlight
Photo by Marcus Löfvenberg on Unsplash

Motorcycle headlights are required by law in some states, but even if they’re not, it’s a good idea to use them. Headlights make it easier for other drivers to see you, and they can also help you see potential hazards on the road ahead.

Be sure to use your low beam and high beams as normal. Do not blind other drivers but riding with your high-beam on for “visibility”.

By following these simple tips, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable motorcycle riding experience for everyone. Happy riding!

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Hey y’all! It’s Chase Manhattan, a life-long gearhead, tinkerer, and adrenaline junky. I like to write about all things technical in the Harley Davidson and motorcycling space.