Motorcycle season has arrived. If you're a first-time rider, you're likely itching to answer the call of the open road. But while an exhilarating pastime, motorcycles aren't without serious risks. It's an alarming reality that motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than a person in a car, and nearly half of all motorcycle fatalities are the result of single-vehicle collisions.
Still, while you can't always avoid an accident, you can take steps to have a safe experience when you're out on your bike. Here are five tips for new bikers that will help minimize the dangers of riding:
1. Choose the appropriate bike for you
When starting out, it's crucial that you don't buy more bike than you can handle. When choosing the right motorcycle for you, you'll want to find a bike that allows you to easily rest both feet flat on the ground when you're sitting on it. You'll also want a model where you can comfortably reach the handlebars and controls and easily get on and off the center stand. If a bike feels too heavy, it probably is.
2. Master your riding technique
As with any new skill, the best way to improve is to learn how to do it correctly and practice. Signing up for a riding course in your area by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation is an excellent way to master the basics of riding as well as what to do in emergencies. In some instances, an approved motorcycle safety course may even score you a discount on your insurance.
3. Don't skip the helmet and gear
Safety gear is a must when riding a motorcycle. Riders without a helmet are 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury than riders who wear one. A full-faced helmet approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) will help ensure you avoid catastrophic injuries in the event of a crash.
4. Antilock brakes are a must
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), motorcycles equipped with antilock brakes are 37% less likely to be in a crash than motorcycles without it. While antilock brakes are readily available on a variety of modern bike models, you can also add them to most basic bikes for a few hundred dollars. Antilock brakes help you to maintain steering control in the event of an emergency stop.
5. Avoid riding in bad weather
Weather isn't always predictable, but try to avoid riding in inclement weather conditions when you can. If you do get caught in the rain, try to avoid making sudden maneuvers and be gentle with the brakes, throttle and steering to prevent sliding. Rain reduces a rider's visibility as well as the tire's grip on the road, making it very dangerous for even seasoned bikers.
For many, motorcycling is more than a hobby; it's a lifestyle. However, if you want to continue enjoying this new lifestyle for years to come, safety should always be your top priority on the road.