This post was written by guest blogger Jordan Robertson. Jordan is a freelance writer and motorcycle enthusiast. After a few bad spills, Jordan is also a motorcycle safety advocate.
…even when you’ve been riding for years. Yeah, you probably have your motorcycle license. And let’s hope you already know how to ride. But have you thought about how you’re going to keep riding for years to come without injuring yourself or others?
Photo by Paul L. Nettles
Take a Safety Class
Maybe you’ve already been riding for years and think you know all there is to know about riding a motorcycle. A lot of old time riders learned from their buddies or taught themselves. But one look at motorcycle crash statistics will tell you it never hurts to get a refresher. A motorcycle safety course is a good start. Not only will the course cover the basics of riding safety, after you take it, you may even qualify for a discount on your motorcycle insurance. Check with your insurance carrier to find out.
If you’re not already part of a club, or have just moved to a new state, taking a course is also a good way to meet other riders in your community. You may even want to consider eventually becoming a motorcycle safety instructor. The more people who know how to ride safely, the safer the roads are for everyone.
Wear a Helmet
Whether you live in a state or country where it’s mandatory or not, wearing a helmet may be the easiest thing you do that provides the most protection from injury, or even death. For every mile driven, motorcycle riders are 37 times more likely to die than those riding in passenger vehicles. That statistic alone should encourage you to wear a helmet. Many of those deaths are due to severe head trauma or brain injury.
Wearing a helmet should be the equivalent of wearing a seatbelt in a car, but if you still don’t think you need to, at least require your passengers to wear one. No one wants to be responsible for injury to another rider, especially when it can be so easily avoided just by putting a helmet on. Make sure it’s DOT, Snell or ECE certified.
Wear Safety Gear
Aside from a helmet, there are many other components of proper safety gear to protect every part of your body in the event of an accident. A jacket made from abrasion-resistant material is essential. Most of us would prefer a broken bone to a bad case of road rash. Motorcycle accident statistics show that injuries to the lower half of the body account for half of all injuries suffered. Avoid becoming one of those statistics with pants made from leather or Kevlar, with padding in all the right places. And old pair of jeans and a denim jacket might not cut it, but oilskins or motorcycle jeans like Draggins will be a big help.
Round out your safety gear ensemble with gloves that wick moisture and fasten above the wrist, and boots high enough to cover the ankle, but not interfere with movement while riding. If your helmet doesn’t have a built-in face shield, consider goggles. Other than keeping your eyes safe in an accident, or from flying debris, they’ll keep bugs out of your eyes too. Look for tinted goggles that offer protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
We all love our bikes and want to make sure they are maintained in order to run properly, and to be safe to ride. Following the preventive maintenance schedule in the manual will keep it in good condition. But also perform quick inspections every time you prepare to ride it. Make sure the tires aren’t damaged, that the lights work, and that everything is where it should be. If you do find anything broken or missing, repair or replace it as soon as possible. This is especially important when it comes to lights. The headlight and taillight are sometimes the only things that allow vehicle drivers to see you on a dark road. It’s important to keep them working, not to mention you want to avoid getting a ticket.
Keeping your motorcycle clean is also part of maintaining it. Regular washing, preventive maintenance, and prompt repairs when necessary will not only keep your motorcycle in good working order, they’ll help it keep some resale value so a few years down the road when you’re ready to upgrade, you can get a good price for your bike.
Being a responsible rider, and remembering that a motorcycle is a vehicle and not a toy are the final keys to staying safe when riding your motorcycle. Knowing you and your passenger are safe will allow you to enjoy riding all the more.