Riding a motorcycle gives you a sense of freedom like you can’t imagine. Every ride can be an adventurous and exciting experience. However, the reality is that riding a motorbike can be extremely dangerous if the rider does not take the necessary steps to keep themselves safe. The US Department of Transportation found that motorcyclists were 28 times more likely to die in an accident than people who are in a car. With this statistic in mind, it makes sense that motorcycle owners have to put a bit more extra effort into their safety.
Here are 8 crucial steps every motorcycle owner needs to take to ensure their safety on the road.
1. Make Sure You Are Insured
First things first, you should never drive unless you are insured. This is illegal and if you are caught you risk paying hefty fines, losing your license, or even having your motorbike seized and destroyed in more extreme cases. Every rider needs to make sure they get motorbike insurance as it protects you from liability should you end up in an accident and you damage another vehicle or cause an injury to another person. What’s more, insurance provides you with financial compensation if your motorbike gets stolen, vandalized, or damaged in a fire.
2. Always Check The Weather Before Riding
Regardless of whether you are going for a quick ride around the block or on a long road trip, you need to check the weather. Riding in inclement weather such as rain, sleet or snow can be very difficult and you should avoid it as much as possible. Another related weather hazard to consider is if there will be black ice on the road as this is very difficult to spot and has been the cause of many accidents. While sometimes it might be unavoidable and we have to travel in difficult weather, make sure you know what you are in for so that nasty weather conditions do not come as a surprise. If you are going to ride in difficult conditions make sure you are wrapped up and wearing the right gear to keep you warm and protected.
3. Your Helmet Will Need Replacing
A common mistake a lot of riders make is that they assume they do not need to replace their helmets. Over time, the glues and resins in your helmet start to affect the inner lining and this reduces its effectiveness to protect your skull. Ideally, you should be replacing your helmet every five years or so that the padding in the helmet is at its strongest. If you receive any damage whatsoever to your helmet, no matter how minor, then you need to replace it immediately. If not you are putting yourself at unnecessary risk.
4. Always Wear Protective Gear
Motorcycle gear has been designed to keep riders safe from road rash, the weather, and general debris that can come at you. Gear includes a full-face helmet, goggles, leather jacket, and pants, above the ankle boots, and non-slip gloves. It can feel like a lot of effort putting on and taking off these layers but they are there to protect you. If you fall off your bike and you have exposed skin then the road will be unforgiving. Then it is a whole lot more effort to recover from such awful injuries. So take it seriously and always make sure you are protected even if it does feel over the top – because we can pretty much guarantee that it is not over the top.
5. Stay Visible
Just because you might be one of the safest drivers in the world does not mean that everybody around you is. You must do what you can to be visible to other drivers, as sometimes you will be missed or caught in a driver’s blind spots. Do your best to wear reflective clothing and always use your turn signals/ hand signals too. Give vehicles enough space and a wide enough birth so that even if they do miss you, you ought to be safe. Remember, just because you can see them DOES NOT mean they can see you.
6. Regularly Check Tire Pressure
You mustn’t neglect the tires on your motorbike, as these are what allow you to drive safely and securely on the road. So in short, if you take care of your tires, then they will take good care of you. Keep a tire pressure gauge to hand so that you can regularly check the pressure. If you are someone who drives pretty often then you want to aim to check them around once a week.
7. Regularly Check Chain Tension
This is another important point, so make sure you don’t neglect your bike’s chain health, because without a strong chain tension you will have no power coming from the back wheel. You can purchase tools that help you to check the tension of your chain and ideally you want this to be between 30 to 40mm of slack, however, it will vary somewhat from vehicle to vehicle. The best thing to do is to check your motorbike manual and see what they suggest. You must take it seriously because if the chain is too tight it can potentially break it, and if it is too loose then it could fall off.
8. Know Your Limits
The most important thing to do is to understand and know your limits. Do not put yourself in a situation you are not comfortable with because that increases the chances of something going wrong. If you are someone who does not feel comfortable driving in the rain then just do not do it, because it is simply not worth it. By having a strong understanding of what you can and can’t do, this means you won’t put yourself in dangerous situations.
The key to being safe on the road is being mindful of yourself and others. If you need to refresh on driving rules and safety there are plenty of courses both in person or virtually to help you regain the confidence you need.