The first six months of riding a motorcycle is particularly dangerous. If you have just begun riding a motorcycle you are statistically more likely to crash compare to those who have been riding for some time. Ideally,after taking a beginner’s motorcycle riding course, you need to practice riding as much as you can and take a refresher course at least once a year. To make sure that the skills you have acquire will not atrophy after the six month frame. Here is a list for novice motorcycle riders to make life on two wheels safer.
1. Don’t assume that drivers around you in a busy urban traffic see you. Be very visible. Wear loud color riding gear and choose fluorescent colored helmets like red to yellow orange or bright yellow. Forget olive drab,gray,black and camouflage patterns. These colors are not eye catching and at night worst. The bright colored helmet should have a big uninterrupted section and continuous patch of a single bright hue. If you want to be effectively conspicuous on the road,no geometrical or complicated scheme of several colors like a checkered pattern. Reflective neon strips on a helmet or jacket is eye-catching at night. Always turn on your headlights. If you want to stand out, run the high beam during the day and rev up your engine every now and then just to let people around you know that you are there.
2. Focus your attention on the road, not the semi-nude model on the billboard or piles of work waiting at the office. You could be drifting towards harm’s way.Pay attention. Get your mind right in the driveway. Most accidents happen during the first fifteen minutes below 40 mph near an intersection or your driveway.
3. It is premature yet to ride with a bunch of bikers. Group motorcycle riding may seem fun and safer but the dynamics of a motorcycle convoy makes it more risky than going it alone. You may have to deal with speed demons or beer drinkers. Wait, until you have mastered complete control of your motorcycle before taking this endeavor.
4. Heed those big yellow signs. Slow down and watch out for animals prowl at dawn and dusk. If you are riding in the West be wary of bears,moose and deer. If you are riding out of the country like Spain for instance,watch out for bulls in the middle of the road and proceed cautiously. In the Scottish highlands learn to ride with sheep and not spook them.
5. Keep the front brake covered always. Keep one or two fingers on the brake lever always ready. Keep your foot near the brake pedal on the alert. You will never know when you need to stop and most of the time you have very little warning. Save a single second of reaction time at 60 mph and you can stop 88 feet shorter.
6. Traffic is always shifting, so keep scanning. Scan your instruments,mirrors,blind spots and the road well ahead of you. It is easy to get fixated and lock your eyes on any one thing. Force yourself actively to always scan the entire area for potential trouble and if there is, change trajectory. It might be too late to do anything about the twenty feet immediately in front of your fender. One second’s worth of distance per 10 mph is the standard, so scan the next 12 seconds ahead for potential hazard. Keep scanning ahead because any road can change any moment. For instance, as you travel an asphalt road can become gravel or mud, straight roads to twisty and curvy ones.
7. The first few seconds after a signal light changes are the most dangerous. Turn your head,look both ways before barging into an intersection or changing directions. Don’t assume other drivers will wait for you to dart through the intersection. They are trying to beat the light too. Unintended lane changes and left turning cars remain the number one cause for fatal highway accidents.
8. If it looks slippery, it might just be. There is a patch of wet leaves or suspicious misted pavement or your approaching a toll booth. Better slow down,apply laser-like focus and maximum level of caution. Who knows it can be more slippery than you think it really is and you never know how much grip there is.
9. Do not ride if you are angry,distraught,tired or anxious. Stay put,.Keep your emotions in check, Emotions can be powerful as any drug or liquor.
10. If you are riding through urban traffic heightened your awareness as to who shares the road with you like large trucks, taxis, bicycles, scooters, iPod -toting pedestrians, skateboarders, runners and drivers who multi-task (using cellphones, applying make-up, reading newspaper and holding coffee cups.) All of these are day to day hazards especially in rush hour traffic both coming and going.
11. If your motorcycle has bolt-on saddlebags, do not under-estimate it’s width and take those into consideration when attempting to maneuver your bike through tight spots like between gas pumps or splitting lanes.
12. Put down the kickstand before dismounting from your motorcycle, It is there for a reason.
13. If you are heading onto dark streets from a well-lighted garage give your eyes a minute or two to adjust. Otherwise you are riding blind for the first mile or so. As you approach a tunnel,shut one eye and count to ten. Your eyes will acclimate faster to the change in light.
14. When parking your motorcycles check if there are designated spots for motorcycles. Be sure to park in a space and not between cars (this is a ticket in most cities) Park your motorcycle properly. The rear tire to the curb.
15. Practice those basic avoidance skills. Do two tight turns in quick succession. Fleck around the tar spot, then right back to your original trajectory. If you ride a cruiser, practice dragging your bike so you can use the available lean angle when you need it and learn the bike’s limits. These skills will come in handy in a crisis. Also master the slow u-turn. Practice all these skills until they are ingrained,automatic and become a natural reflex.
16. You are all alone at night on the road and for some reason the light won’t turn green. Put as much motorcycle weight directly above the sensor wire underneath the pavement located behind the limit line. If nothing’s happening,put the kickstand down right smack on the wire. You should be on your way in a heartbeat.
If you keep practicing these skills suggested in this article, you will one day realize that you are no longer the novice motorcyclist you once were but an expert in the realm of motorcycling. But with good reason. Riding a motorcycle will cut your fuel bills and emission in half. Being on a bike unveils another world, yours for exploring. Indeed motorcycles are the ultimate freedom machines.