Whether you just got your first motorcycle or you’ve been riding for years, motorcycle safety is something that you should always take seriously. Statistics show that motorcycle riders are 30 times more likely to die in an accident than drivers and passengers in a car. To stay safe while you ride, keep the following motorcycle safety tips in mind:
- Buy the Right Size Bike
Modern motorcycles pack plenty of power, especially compared to motorcycles from a couple decades ago. There are two main aspects of a motorcycle’s size to keep in mind: its physical size and its engine size. While the two are related, you also want to evaluate them both separately.
In regards to a motorcycle’s physical size, the ideal size is one where you can put both feet completely on the ground while seated, and reach the handlebars without any discomfort. The engine size is all about what you can handle. A bike with a 250 to 300-cc engine is perfectly fine for getting around, so don’t let your ego to convince you to buy a huge bike if you can’t handle it. That being said, if you’re a skilled rider, a bike with an engine between 500 and 750-cc will be great for freeway rides.
- Wear a Motorcycle Helmet
This should go without saying, but too many riders still forgo this basic part of motorcycle safety. If you ride without a motorcycle helmet and you end up in an accident, you’re three times more likely to end up with some sort of brain injury. Wear your helmet every time you ride. Ideally, you want a full-face helmet to provide the most complete protection. Not only will your helmet protect your head, but it also helps block noise from the wind. Motorcycle helmets have gotten much more comfortable over time, making them much easier to wear on long rides. Visit a shop and try a few different helmets on so you can find one that you like.
- Gear Up
Make sure the rest of your body is safe too, in the event of an accident and even just for protection while you ride. If you decide to go riding in a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals, it’s going to be cold and your skin will suffer the consequences even in a minor accident. While you can invest in all leather gear for riding, it’s not necessary. You can get plenty of protection from a pair of thick jeans, a leather jacket, and boots. Don’t forget about your eyes either, as sunglasses don’t provide adequate protection from the wind. Goggles or a helmet with a visor are both better choices.
- Drive Defensively
Defensive driving is even more important when you’re on a motorcycle than it is when you’re in a car, for obvious reasons. Maintain a safe following distance in case the person in front of you brakes suddenly. Be especially careful passing cars, especially if you’re splitting lanes. Watch out for any cars pulling out from side streets or changing lanes without looking. Unfortunately, phone use behind the wheel is common among drivers in this day and age, so you always have to be aware of your surroundings. Even if the other driver is in the wrong, you’ll still be the one who ends up with the worst injuries.
- Don’t Ride in Bad Weather
If it’s been raining or snowing, or even if the temperature is just below freezing, leave the bike at home. When the roads are slick, it cuts down your margin of error considerably, and one wrong move could result in a crash. Your tires won’t be able to grip the road as well, and if it’s raining, you’ll have limited visibility.
In the event that you have to ride in bad weather, proceed very cautiously. Try not to ride right when it starts raining, because the water brings oil residue to the surface of the road. Wait until it has been raining 20 to 30 minutes. The rain may stop by then, and even if it hasn’t, it will have washed some of that residue away.
There are few things in life as thrilling as riding a motorcycle – and few things as painful as crashing one. You can never completely eliminate your risk when you’re riding, but you can keep it to a minimum when you follow the right motorcycle safety tips.