1.5 million—that’s the impressive increase in motorcycle ownership that happened in 2018. That year, motorcycle ownership in the US went up to a whopping 8.02% from 6.94% in 2014.
But that’s not all.
From 2017 to 2018, motorcycle fatalities dropped by 5%, representing the second consecutive year of fewer motorcycle deaths in the nation.
Motorcycling is fun and much “freer” than a four-wheel drive, but riders have shown to be 28 times more at risk of dying than passenger vehicle occupants.
But by always following these motorcycle safety tips, you can avoid many of the risks. Especially if you’re a beginner who’s still trying to get used to driving on two wheels.
Ready to zoom your way down the highways safely while still looking cool? Then keep reading, as we’ll let you in on how to ride a motorcycle like a pro!
Learn from the Best
Owning a bike from a trusted brand is key to riding safely. However, your bike can only be as safe as your riding habits, which you should develop by learning from the pros.
If you have no motorcycle experience, you should sign up for a beginner learning course. These courses will teach you the road’s motorcycle rules, laws, and bike operation. You’ll learn the best riding practices, and most importantly, how to keep yourself safe.
Most basic riding lessons consist of five hours of in-class instruction and discussion. From there, you’ll go on an actual bike and have practical, hands-on lessons. The on-bike lessons usually cover 10 to 15 miles of closed-road riding.
Your professional instructor will teach you how to start, accelerate, slow, and stop. You’ll also learn proper gear matching and shifting practices. Anticipating and accommodating different traffic situations will also be part of the lessons.
Aside from learning how to ride a motorcycle safely, you also get to prepare for the licensure exams. In many states, such as Delaware, the test will require you to prove your ability to ride a motorcycle safely.
Watch Your Head
19 states, plus D.C., implement a universal helmet law, which means all motorcyclists need to wear one. 28 states have helmet laws for specific types of riders. The three remaining—Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire—don’t have any motorcycle helmet laws.
But even if you live in one of the three states without laws, you should still wear one for your own safety. It can reduce your risks of brain injuries from a motorcycle accident by up to 67%.
Another study showed that facial injuries were less prevalent in universal law states. The facial injuries in these states were 1.5 times less prevalent than in partial law states. Universal law states also had a 2% lower traumatic brain injury rate than partial law states.
Moreover, a UN study estimates that motorcycle crashes from 2008 to 2020 have claimed as many as 3.4 million lives. The correct use of helmets, however, could prevent as many as 1.4 million of those deaths.
These should be enough reasons for you to don one of the most recommended motorcycle helmets at all times. It may take a little getting used to, but once you’re accustomed to it, wearing it will be second nature.
Always Slip into Proper Safety Gear (Even If You’re Only Practicing)
The proper gear does more than identify you as a biker.
According to studies, motorcycle jackets lower the risk of hospitalization after a crash. Fitted body armor also considerably reduces the risk of upper-body injuries. Biking gloves also help protect the hands and wrists from injuries.
Another study found that motorcycle jackets can lower injury risks by 23%. The researchers also noted a 45% reduced likelihood of injuries with motorcycle gloves. Proper motorcycle boots also lowered leg and foot injuries by 45%.
Even in light crashes, proper motorcycle clothing can prevent cuts and bruises. Riding jackets and pants will help protect your skin when it comes into contact with the ground. So never ride in shorts, t-shirts, or open-toed shoes—the wind from the road will help keep you cool.
Practice in a Controlled Environment
A study found that riders over 25 years old have a 50% lower risk of sustaining injuries than younger riders. Protective effects were also higher in people with five years of experience. Moreover, familiarity with a specific motorcycle yielded a stronger protective effect.
These findings prove that practice makes motorcycle riding much safer. However, it’s not enough to just practice on any bike—you need to get accustomed to your ride. After all, motorcycles have varying levels of handling and responsiveness.
That said, ride your bike as much as you can in a controlled environment before taking it into traffic. Besides, familiarizing yourself with your bike will also help ease your riding nervousness.
One of the most important riding tips is to learn how to control the throttle grip. As much as you can, practice the slight twisting of your right hand to safely accelerate.
Once you’re comfortable with the throttle grip, practice it with the front and rear brakes. A gentle squeeze is all it takes to apply these brakes. Any more than that and you could throw yourself off your bike.
Take Your Time
As enticing as the open road is, hold your horses when it comes to long-distance motorcycle riding. You may have scored your license already, but remember: the concrete jungle is full of hazards. Hectic crossroads and drivers on their iPhones are all challenges that you need to get used to.
Take your practice onto roads less-traveled before going on a long journey. This way, you can better hone your focus and riding skills with fewer distractions. Fewer obstacles will also help make it easier to get used to turning and gear switching.
When riding, always ease into traffic slowly and never forget to turn on the proper signal lights. Drill into your brain that your bike is smaller than most other vehicles, so sound that horn when you need to.
Last but not least, don’t go beyond the speed limits, no matter how late you are to work or to your date. As with regular vehicles, speeding puts you at a high risk of accidents. In fact, rider error, including excess speed, accounts for two-thirds of motorcycle-only crashes.
Make Yourself as Visible to Other Motorists as Possible
Four in ten accidents that involve a motorcycle and four-wheeler involve left-hand turns. Many car drivers who tried turning left hit the motorcycle because they didn’t see the rider.
After all, motorcycles are far smaller than cars, so they’re less conspicuous.
That’s why you must make yourself as visible as possible whenever you’re on the road. Wear clothes that are appropriate to the background conditions. At night, make sure you don something bright or reflective, and at day, wear darker clothes.
Add reflective tape to your bike as well, to raise its visual footprint. Apply a few pieces on the forks’ front area, as well as on the edge of the panniers or windscreen. Don’t forget to place some on your wheel rims, too.
Another way to make your bike more visible is by installing auxiliary lights. Like reflective tape, these add light sources to your ride. More than that, they boost your visibility at night so you can see the road better.
Always Check Your Bike Before Heading Out
Make it a habit to check your tire pressure, tread depth, and brakes before getting on your bike. Test all the lights, signal indicators, and horns to ensure they’re working right. If the lights flicker, check your bike’s battery and make sure all wires are secure and damage-free.
Look at your fluid levels to make certain there’s enough of them in the tank. Also, move your bike a bit from its parked position so you can inspect for possible gas or oil leaks. If there’s a small puddle right beneath the bike, that’s a sign of a leak that you should get repaired ASAP.
If you’re loading something heavy onto your ride, test your balance on the bike. Adjust the tire pressure and suspension to ensure your bike will stay upright.
Follow these Motorcycle Safety Tips to Get from Point A to Point B in One Piece
Although injuries caused by motorcycle accidents dropped down to 89,000 in 2017, that’s still a lot. That’s about 244 injured people every day which you don’t want to become one of.
So, don’t just keep these motorcycle safety tips in mind—make sure you follow them. This way, you can keep riding with all your limbs attached where they’re supposed to be.
Once you’re all geared up and have accumulated a ton of practice, it’s time for a long-distance ride. Here’s a list of the best motorcycle roads to get you started!