We all know that age-old statistic that motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than cars. Still that doesn’t stop millions of people around the world from jumping on one and going for the ride of their life!
As a seasoned rider with over 200,000 miles in 50+ countries under my belt, safety is my #1 priority whenever I get on a motorcycle. Here are the top 5 safety tips I’ve learned over the years to help keep you safe on your next ride.
1. Defense is the best offense
I am able to dodge and avoid many dangerous situations on the road by being a defensive driver when I ride. The moment you start your ride you should be on the lookout for road hazards like gravel, trash, pedestrian crossings, bad drivers and more. You should always leave plenty of room between yourself and the vehicles in front of and behind you. This will give you enough space and time to react in case the unexpected happens. Remember, most motorcycle accidents are caused by other drivers.
2. Gear, be smart about it
Proper safety gear like a helmet, jacket, pants, gloves and boots, are essential to keeping you safe in the event of an accident. Bright gear makes you more visible to other drivers, and protective eye wear keeps your delicate eyeballs safe and glued to the road. A good jacket, gloves and boots will help keep you warm and dry while protecting you from road debris, and can even protect your skin in an accident. Wearing full gear can also help boost rider confidence.
3. Know and choose the right bike for you
Everyone has a different skill level and goal when it comes to riding. Riders get into trouble when they buy more bike than they can handle. I have seen riders on bikes where their feet don’t reach the ground. How you want to use your bike is also important to consider. A dirt bike with off-road tires on a highway at high speeds is also not ideal. It is important to consider both skill level and where you will ride the bike when picking one out. Things to think about: bigger bikes are heavier so they will drive differently; off-road tires are difficult in corners; and high handlebars affect the stable handling of the bike.
4. Making tough choices quickly
Your personal safety is in your own hands when you ride. As a rider you should be prepared to make smart choices when the unexpected happens. I always assume the worst of other drivers when on the road. I imagine they all have one eye covered when they drive, so I never presume they will see me as they merge or change lanes. Another preventative technique is to place yourself in a position where you have two different escape points. An open space to both your left, and right to merge into quickly at any given moment is key.
If you find yourself in an uncomfortable or dangerous position on the road sometimes overtaking a vehicle or pulling over and letting them pass is the best preventative measure to keep you both safe. And finally, on the highway you are statistically safer going with the flow of traffic, so follow everyone else to stay safe.
5. Don’t get distracted and maintain your bike
The open road is indeed beautiful, but remember traffic and obstacles are waiting around the corner for you and you need a properly maintained bike to stay safe. Be hyper aware of your surroundings and constantly changing conditions. Keep your eyes on the road when you ride. Ignore distractions like your radio, cell phone, the beautiful girl in the red convertible next to you, and people staring at your bike as you fly by.
Make sure you do a visual inspection before you jump on the bike. You should check that your turn signals, brakes, headlight, tires and horn are in working order before you take off every time. A quick visual inspection to make sure all your wires, cables, chains and components are in good condition and where they need to be is also important. This can help you prevent a catastrophe when you are on the highway.
Whether you ride out for the weekend or just the day, be sure to follow these 5 tips to make your next ride as safe as possible.