Riding Safely On A Motorcycle
By Staff Writer
You might have heard various, contradicting opinions about motorcycles being dangerous. Some say that riding a bicycle or even being a pedestrian can be potentially more dangerous than riding a motorcycle. What the heck, whatever they say or whatever you may think, it won’t hurt to practice motorcycle safety at all times. As they say, better safe than sorry.
There are 3 major components in ensuring motorcycle safety – your condition, your riding gear and your motorcycle. These three components complement each other in keeping your riding experience fun instead of dangerous. I know, one would say that dangerous IS fun – but remember, putting your life and that of others’ at risk is anything but fun. So leave the stunts to the professionals and be a responsible rider.
Your safety may be affected by several aspects of your condition – your riding skills and you being physically and mentally prepared.
Relatively, your riding skills are the easiest to evaluate and control. You pretty much know where you’re at based on how long you’ve been riding as well as on what conditions, and based on what you can or cannot do. As a beginner, it is suggested that you do practice rides before hitting the public roads. Even as a more experienced rider, know what your strengths and weaknesses are so that you may improve on them. A good example is carrying a passenger or carrying load. If you’ve never done it before, it may feel a bit off because it’s new to you, so be extra careful and alert.
Equally important is the fact that you are physically and mentally prepared. Your ability to control your motorcycle may be impaired by being sick or injured, while your decision-making abilities may be affected by a recent conflict with someone or any other emotionally stressful event. Imagine, if these factors can affect your riding skills, just think of how alcohol can totally endanger you. Needless to say, never ever drink and ride.
Your Riding Gear
Riding a motorcycle is no fashion show – even for the passenger. Be sure to wear proper clothing, proper footwear and other protective gears such as helmet, gloves and eyewear. Surprisingly, wearing the right gear not only protects you in case of an accident, but actually keeps you away from a potential accident by making you comfortable as discomfort itself can put you at risk.
For your clothing, you and your passenger should be wearing a long-sleeved shirt or jacket, which is snug at the wrists. For your jacket, ideally, it’s abrasion-resistant that zips up or buttons up close to the neck. Though leather is best if you have one, a nylon flight jacket or parka are the next best thing. For your pants, choose a durable pair, preferably leather – again, if you have one. Otherwise, a pair of jeans or work pants will do. Also wear clothes appropriate for the weather especially since hot gets hotter and cold gets colder when riding a motorcycle. Avoid loose clothing like scarves and bell bottoms. Again, riding is no fashion show. It doesn’t mean of course that you can’t be fashionable – but please, dress smart.
For proper footwear, wear sturdy shoes, again, preferably leather and ideally over the ankle. This should protect you from abrasion and from the hot parts of the bike that are located near your feet and ankles. Hiking boots are a good example. And of course, avoid long and dangling shoelaces as these may get caught in the shifter or brake pedal and may therefore cause an accident.
Lastly, you and your passenger should be wearing protective gears like an approved helmet, a pair of gloves and protective eyewear. Your helmets should be comfortable – snug but not too tight. For the rider, a pair of durable, full-fingered gloves provides better grip on the controls and is especially helpful during extreme weather conditions. For instance, you can have better grip when it’s too hot and sweat may cause your hands to slip off the controls. On the other hand, it’ll keep you warm during the cold weather. For your eyewear, if your helmets do not have a face shield, use goggles or a pair of dark or prescription glasses.
You’ve got the skills, you’re physically fit and mentally sound and you’re all geared up. The last thing you need to do is get on the bike — not! One last, very important thing you need to do is check your motorcycle and make sure it’s ready. As a guide, use the T-CLOCK inspection. That’s Tires and wheels, Controls, Lights and electrical, Oil and fluids, Chassis and Kickstand. Make sure that everything is in good, working condition — nothing cracked, broken, bent, loose nor dented.
Now you are all set and all you need to do is get on that bike and ride. Just remember to always have fun and keep safe!