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July 31, 2019

Writen by: Luis

Welcome to a new experience.

Congratulations on making the choice to ride a motorcycle, new rider! I understand that it may be a daunting prospect to ride on only two wheels among the big rigs, trucks, and even cars on the highways. But as a fellow rider, know that beyond that apprehension, there is so much that the experience of riding a motorcycle offers. The goal of today's post is to ease some of those concerns and encourage those first-time riders to get out and ride. For all those new riders on the road (and maybe some experienced riders who need a refresher), here are 8 motorcycle driving tips.

8 Motorcycle Tips for the Rookies (and some still relevant for the experienced!)

1. Choosing the Right Motorcycle

You may want to get a bike to look flashy or to fit in with your fellow riders. But if the bike isn't the right fit for you, then you're going to put yourself in unnecessary danger. Opt instead to go for something that feels comfortable to use. You want to be able to access all of your controls without straining yourself. Many motorcycle manufacturers have what they consider a good starter bike. The point is, research various models and try out the bike before purchasing it.

2. Do a Quick Maintenance Check

Before taking off on a trip, ensure that your motorcycle is in working order. Do you have enough fuel to get to where you need to go? Are your brakes working correctly? Is the chain well lubricated? Are the tire threads getting to be worn? Are your mirrors positioned correctly? A quick run-through on the essentials that make your motorcycle function go a long way in keeping you safe on the road. 

A quick inspection can help keep you safe on the road.

3. Know the Details of Your Bike

Knowing the inner workings of your motorcycle is important in keeping maintenance and safety. Certain models may not feature items such as a fuel gauge, so recognize how much mileage you get out of your fill-up early on and you'll be able to anticipate when you need to stop at the gas station. When buying a bike, new or used, check to see if there were any modifications installed that may alter the performance; knowing what mods come with it helps you plan for maintenance.

4. Wear the Appropriate Attire

That means no flip flops, no shorts, and no sleeveless shirts. They may not stop you from riding, but they certainly won't keep you from receiving some of the worst road rash you'll experience – or worse. Appropriate gear should cover any exposed skin, so a jacket made of leather or high-quality textile materials, similarly-composed pants, gloves that completely cover your whole hands and are made of strong, abrasion-resistant material, and closed-toe, ankle-covering boots should be the bare minimum you go for. Aim for bright colors to increase your visibility to other drivers. Wear rain gear if it's raining; it's designed to keep you dry so you're not freezing and fumbling for the controls. Armor should also be considered, given that it can absorb energy from impacts; certain motorcycle attire is designed to accommodate armor thanks to their provided pockets.

Leather jacket, gloves, pants, and ankle-covering boots are the bare minimum.

5. Know The Local Rules and Regulations

Different states have different regulations when it comes to riding motorcycles. Some examples include helmet use, headphones usage, noise regulation, lane splitting, and more. When planning your trip, be sure to do your research on state laws if you plan to cross over. As a general rule of thumb, if it doesn't feel like a good idea, don't do it. One thing I'd always recommend no matter what is to wear a helmet; even if the laws are lenient, protection is always a number one priority. You only have one head–protect it as much as you can.

6. Look Where You Want to Go

A good motorcyclist looks ahead to the spot where they want to go. This technique assists in seeing potential hazards on the road and how to best manage the situation. Consider the motorcycle as an extension of your body, following the direction of where your eyes see. It is important not to fixate on the same spot, though. Once you see the hazard, do your course correction and then continue scanning ahead for the place you want to go.

7. Ride Defensively

Remember: when riding a motorcycle, you are a much more susceptible target for an accident. Compared to cars, trucks, and big rigs, you are a single person on two wheels. Therefore, give yourself ample room between other vehicles, at least a car's distance or more if possible. A larger distance gives you enough room to apply the brakes in an emergency, especially when a driver decides it's a good idea to cut you off. Drive as if you were invisible because, in essence, you are. There are plenty of distracted drivers who would rather spend the time texting instead of keeping their eyes on the road, so use good judgment when riding.

8. Get Professional Training

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offers a wealth of training courses for both prospective and experienced riders. If you have never driven a motorcycle, the basic course offers a thorough explanation of laws & regulations, plus you receive hands-on experience on riding. Get to learn the regulations and the training as best you can, as the essentials are a good basis to define your riding ability.

Bonus: If You Have a Camera, Turn It On!

A camera is a good way to capture the scenery of your trip. But it also serves as a dashcam for many riders. As mentioned earlier, drivers are typically distracted 

Now That You’re Aware, Get Out There and Ride!

And those are just the top 8 recommended tips. As always, the best measure of experience comes when you get out there and practice what you have learned. To new riders, what have you learned and are looking forward to applying on your trip? For the experienced rider, are there any tips you recommend for riders just starting out?

Prepare for the trip and you’ll have an easy time on your adventure.