On the trail or the road, motorcycling can be an exhilarating sport or hobby for many powersports enthusiasts. Like with any vehicle, enjoying the ride to its fullest should start with making safety the top priority.
And since May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month – that time when traffic and recreation begin their climb toward summer peaks – this is the perfect time to refresh on some basic safety guidelines for getting out there on two wheels. The following seven safety tips are a great place to start.
Whether you ride on the road, dirt or gravel, it’s important to know that your skills are up to par in case of emergency. Even though they might not realize it, riders can easily become complacent with their riding ability. To help stay sharp, consider taking a refresher course or a new skills course once every few years. By learning from a professional, you could gain confidence from knowing what aspects of riding you excel in, and take a humble look at what you can do better as a rider to stay safe. Above all, keeping your skills sharp could help you handle an unexpected obstacle or tricky situation should you encounter one.
When it comes to safety gear, remember “All The Gear, All The Time,” or ATGAT. It’s a simple enough saying and serves as a good reminder that it’s worthwhile to put on every bit of gear to protect yourself on your next adventure. As a motorcyclist, you should be covered head to toe in riding gear when you set out for a ride.
Also, before riding season, go over your gear. Is it still in good shape? If your helmet is more than 5 years old, you should consider replacing it. Is your waterproof gear still waterproof? You might want to treat or replace worn gear to protect you from the elements. If your gear has armor inside of it, check for any cracking. Over time, armor will become more rigid and can crack more easily.
Before you set out on a ride big or small, it’s important to know what to expect on the roads. Is there construction? What is the weather like? If you’re visiting a popular town, consider tourist season and vacation traffic. All these things could drastically change the overall feel of your trip, and it might be worthwhile to have alternate routes planned.
Regardless of whether you’re riding with a group or riding solo, let someone know your plan, set check-in times and use a personal location device if going into remote regions or areas without cell service.
If you end up getting stranded somewhere on the side of the road, it’s important to know a few things to keep you safe and get help quickly. Ensure that your motorcycle is far enough off the road, so it doesn’t impede traffic. Leave your turn signal or flashers on if you can. And put your helmet on the ground beside your bike at the rear. This is a universal sign to other motorcyclists that a rider needs help.
Many motorcyclists prefer to dress in dark colors and make their bikes look sleeker with small turn signals, headlights and mirrors. Yet, you owe it to yourself to ensure that you’re doing your best to be spotted while riding. Wear bright, fluorescent colors with reflective material and leave the stock turn signals on, as they’re likely easier to see. Many motorists just don’t register motorcycles the same way they do cars when seen on the road. With a shift in mindset about visibility, many riders can make their time on the road safer.
Before you start any ride it’s important to go over the bike and make sure it’s in good running condition, there’s the right amount of air pressure in your tires, all your Quicksilver fluids are topped up, and all signals and lights are working. Before you take off, give yourself a quick assessment, too. Are you focused? Do you have enough energy for the ride? It’s important to stay alert while riding and “check in” with yourself periodically. Make sure you’re feeling good, drinking enough water and eating healthy snacks, too.
Before you get on your bike for your next ride, consider the safety steps you should take. Always be thinking about things you can do as a rider to make your outings safer. Then ride safe, don’t speed and always make sure the road you travel leads you to happiness. After all, isn’t that why you ride motorcycles in the first place?