So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy a new motorcycle? That’s great news. There’s just one problem: you’re a total novice. What’s more, bikes are dangerous vehicles – far more so than a car.
According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motorcyclists are more than 30 times more likely to be injured in an accident than car drivers. Furthermore, older riders tend to fare worse, thanks to their frailer bodies and slower reaction times. Riders over the age of sixty are three times more likely to be hospitalised than those under 30.
Clearly, new riders of any age need some advice on how to go about riding, maintaining and storing their new vehicles for safety. Check out these ideas.
Front-Brake Around Corners
Corners can be tough on a motorbike. With only two wheels on the tarmac, the physics of turning is very different from that of a car and the consequences of losing control, devastating.
The good news is that there is a simple trick you can use to improve cornering safety: front-brake throughout the turn. Braking through a corner might sound like a bit of a faux-pas, but there are good reasons for doing it. When you front-brake a motorcycle, you shift the weight of the bike to the front, compressing the front suspension. Squeezing the front suspension causes more force to be exerted onto the front tire below. As the force on the tire increases, so too does the surface area of the tire in contact with the road. The larger the surface area, the more grip the bike has, and the safer you can take the corner at any given speed.
Always Wear A Helmet
Although it’s the law in most countries, some riders still don’t wear a helmet, especially if it is a short journey. It’s just too easy to hop on the back of the bike and pop to the shops.
Data shows, however, that riders who don’t wear helmets are a staggering 40 per cent more likely to die in a collision than those that do. What’s more, they are up to three times more likely to suffer a severe brain injury. It’s not a risk worth taking.
Store Your Bicycle During Winter
Most motorcyclists do the sensible thing and put their bike into motorcycle storage during the winter months. Storage is essential for safety (as well as maintaining the value of your bike) because it prevents the motorcycle from rusting and damage to the components. Rusted discs could compromise braking performance.
It’s also probably a good idea to put your motorbike away for the winter anyway if you’re new to it. Winter riding is not only cold and unpleasant but also particularly dangerous because of hazards, like ice.
Can riding defensively make a difference? The University of South Florida decided to attempt to answer that question. Researchers looked at insurance records to see who was to blame in collisions between cars and motorcyclists. The data showed something astonishing: car drivers were at fault 60 per cent of the time (you’d expect it to be 50 per cent if collisions were random) while motorcyclists only 40 per cent, providing evidence that car drivers are less safe than motorcycle riders. The researchers argued that the data showed that riders should drive as defensively as possible because other road users were not as vigilant.
Wear The Correct Attire
Although riding along a country road in the middle of summer wearing nothing but jeans and a t-shirt might sound like the dream, there’s a good reason bikers wear their leathers: protection. And we’re not just talking about protection from serious injury either. Leathers help to protect you from all sorts of things, such as bugs (which can hurt if they hit you at high speed), wind and rain, and debris from trucks.
Bikers should wear reinforced gloves, jackets, full pants, and footwear that protects the ankle – a part of the body prone to damage while riding a motorbike.
Riding gear is vital for another reason too: visibility. When drivers hit a rider, they often complain that they didn’t see the motorbike coming. So dressing in reflective clothing is probably a good idea if you want to make sure that you’re visible on the road.
Don’t Jump In At The Deep End And Buy A 600CC Racing Bike
And finally, you might want to steer clear of performance motorcycles if you’re new to riding. High-powered bikes are a force to be reckoned with and require lots of experience to use safely.