Whether you bike daily as a means of transportation or enjoy going on long cross-country rides, biking can be a great way to relieve stress and enjoy the outdoors.
While many are attracted to riding for the freedom it offers, motorcyclists know that there is a certain discipline required by the activity.
What you need to stay safe
If you are someone who loves to feel the rumble of an engine between your legs, you have a responsibility to take proper care of your equipment and improve your skills. Doing so will not only make you a better rider but will help keep you riding out on the roads for longer.
Like rock climbing or camping, motorcycling is a recreational activity that requires gear. For motorcycling, properly maintaining and utilizing your gear can mean life and death. There are a few pieces of equipment that can help keep you safe on the roads:
- Your bike: First and foremost is the machine you actually ride on. You depend on your bike to perform to keep you safe. However, it also depends on you to keep it in good shape. You should continuously make sure that all components of your bike—from the battery to the turn signals—work well. Change your oil regularly and take care of any issues that may come up as soon as possible.
- Your helmet: After your bike, your helmet is the second most important piece of gear that keeps you safe. The National Safety Council estimates that a good helmet is 37% effective at preventing fatal injuries. Make sure that your helmet is full-coverage and that it has a Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker—this means that the helmet meets safety standards.
- Your attire: If you’ve ever been on a long ride, you will know that having the proper attire can make a big difference in your ride. Everything from wearing the right pants to having eye protection can help you feel more comfortable behind the handles, and thus can help you ride more effectively.
Like any craft, biking is something that can’t ever be completely mastered. While you should already be licensed if your riding on the roads, you can always continue to improve your biking skills. Here are some riding skills that are important for keeping you safe:
- Riding in your skill level: The most important thing for any rider is to ride within their skill level. Trying to do too much can be risky and lead to accidents.
- Riding defensively: You should always ride defensively on the road, especially at intersections, where half of all accidents occur. Part of effective defensive riding is making sure that you ride in a way that makes you easily visible to other vehicles. While you may be a high-level rider, you can’t always predict what another driver will do. Practicing defensive riding is a practical skill that responsible riders should employ.
- Understanding road conditions: This skill comes with experience. There are more hazards that motorcyclists have to be aware of than four-wheelers do. These hazards can include, gravel, sewer covers, oil slicks, and puddles.
Riding a motorcycle brings many people joy, however—just like driving—it is an inherently dangerous activity. Riding safely is a combination of preparation and skill. Hopefully, by taking care of your gear and continuing to improve your skills, you will be able to take to the open road for a long time to come.