Four Motorcycle Safety Tips For The Easy Rider In Us All
With the warmer weather upon us, motorcyclists are going to become more of a fixture on the roadways. If you consider yourself one of this select group, then you’re probably anxious to rev that engine and get going. However, don’t forget to bring your best safety behaviors while you’re at it. Nationwide and the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute recently shed some light on the tips that every motorcyclist should know before hitting the open road. Here are some of the highlights.
No matter how advanced of a rider you are, a little formal safety education never hurt anyone when prepping for a cruise. Jim Wagnon of the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute warns that “Often, skilled riders begin to ignore basics such as pre-trip equipment inspection, proper personal safety gear and tight maneuvering.”
Wagnon is a big proponent for continuing education via motorcycle safety courses, stating that “Instruction can build upon … experience as an intermediate or experienced rider. In some cases, courses are available so advanced riders can practice high-speed braking and maneuvering on a closed racecourse.”
Stay Visible And Alert.
Clearly, riding on a motorcycle does not offer the same protections as riding in a car. There is no protective metal and glass to help you avoid road hazards. No seatbelt to brace you in the event of an accident. Alertness and visibility are essentials if you want to stay safe. That means tapping in to your defensive driving skills, being aware of traffic flow and obstacles at all times, and anticipating what other cars are going to do. It also means staying visible for other motorists.
“Proper gear can range from chaps and a leather jacket to sophisticated Kevlar clothing or full-leather riding suits,” Wagnon says. “Brightly colored clothing and retro reflective gear can greatly improve visibility. Sadly, many riders have the appropriate safety gear but might be tempted not to bother on a hot day or for short trips. This can be a very costly mistake.”
Carry The Proper Gear.
Even if accidents don’t happen, breakdowns might. To deal with these issues, it is important to carry the appropriate tools and equipment. Wagnon recommends that every motorcyclist, no matter what the skill level, carries with them “spark-plug sockets, open-end wrenches, screwdrivers, locking pliers, combination wrench, hex key set, electrical tape and a flashlight.”
It would probably be a good idea to have a well-charged cellphone as well, just in case you have the do-it-yourself skills of a small child. (Guilty!)
Install Antilock Brakes.
Cars aren’t the only mode of transportation that can benefit the owner through antilock brakes. These parts are especially effective if you’re a motorcyclist. Just take one look at the statistics! According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), antilocks can reduce the risk of a fatal motorcycle crash by 31 percent. Furthermore, the organization notes, collision insurance claims for motorcycles with ABS are filed 20 percent less frequently than for motorcycles without it — and 31 percent when the ABS bikes have combined controls.
“As any rider knows, stopping a motorcycle isn’t as simple as stopping a car,” IIHS notes. “Most bikes have separate brake controls for the front and rear wheels, and either wheel can lock up during hard braking. On a car, a lockup might result in a skid. On a motorcycle, it often means a serious fall.”
The organization continues: “No matter how skilled a rider you are, you can’t predict when a driver ahead of you will cut you off, forcing you to brake hard. Road surfaces can be unexpectedly sandy or more slippery than they look. With ABS, riders can brake fully without fear of locking up. Antilocks automatically reduce brake pressure when a lockup is about to occur and increase it again after traction is restored.”
Motorcycle season is indeed here, and if you plan on partaking, don’t make the mistake more than 4,000 people each year make — the annual number of motorcycle fatalities — by being overconfident. Safety precautions are always a good idea, and the four we’ve shared above, are the most important.