With summertime kicking in, many people are choosing to take to the roads for their first time on a motorcycle. As exciting as it is to be a new biker, there are several essential pieces of information you need to bear in mind to ensure that you, and those around you, remain safe and have a good time.
Make sure you know your bike’s fuel capacity
Some bikes have fuel gauges but others don’t – and this has nothing to do with the age of the bike, it’s simply a question of aesthetics. It’s important for you to know your bike’s estimated MPG and its fuel capacity. Use a trip odometer on your bike so you know when it’s time to start looking for somewhere to refuel. This is especially important on long ride-outs to the countryside, as you don’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no fuel.
Protect yourself with the right gear
It’s important to think about the little protective features that can make a huge difference if you come off your bike. Choose armoured riding gear instead of denim, as denim is much less protective and often will shred if you skid along the tarmac. It is possible to purchase Kevlar-reinforced jeans, but armoured gear is still the more protective option. There are a wide variety of looks to choose from to suit every style, so you have no excuse.
If you’re riding out in the summer, such heavy fabrics may seem cumbersome. However, if you’re going to be out for a long period of time, the temperature will likely change. As well as this, riding along the motorway at speed can make the temperature feel 10 degrees less than it actually is, so dressing in layers is your best option. Many manufacturers make mesh jackets that are perfect for keeping you protected but cool in hot weather. It also means you don’t have to worry about sunburn!
Aside from you feeling the heat, your bike gets hot too – particularly chrome. If you are riding a bike with chrome grips, it is a good idea to wear armoured gloves to protect yourself from the heat. Ideally, you should wear such gloves anyway, as when people fall, they automatically reach out to protect themselves. It is possible to get summer gloves and these are perforated to provide better airflow.
Keep your focus on your target
For new bikers, fixing your focus on your target can be tricky. It is important to remember that your bike will go wherever you are looking. Look straight ahead into the distance while still observing what’s happening around you, and that is the way you will go. When approaching a corner, try to look through the corner rather than down on the ground. Keep an eye out for complications such as potholes, pedestrians and other hazards while keeping your focus on where you want your bike to go.
It’s also good for other drivers to see you looking where you want to go. If you plan to turn left, looking to the left indicates that you intend to turn, and moving in such a way will help other drivers notice you.
Remember – you are a vulnerable road user
People will see cars on the road, but they will not necessarily notice motorbikes to the same degree. Most drivers simply aren’t looking out for motorbikes. You are risking a lot more when you ride your motorbike, as being hit by a car while you are on a bike could result in serious injury.
Due to this, it is up to you to pay attention to everyone else on the road, and always assume that they haven’t noticed you. Be careful at every intersection – anywhere another vehicle can attempt to merge with moving traffic. Always focus on what’s coming up ahead and consider how it might affect the current traffic. Anticipate potentially dangerous situations in advance and avoid drivers’ blind spots, and you will keep yourself out of harm’s way.
Know the law
Ensure you are up to date on motorcycle laws before you start riding. Ensure you know what you can and cannot do with your particular motorcycle licence, and ensure you are wearing the correct helmet and are appropriately insured. Have your tax up to date and make sure your motorcycle has been registered, and you should have no legal worries.
Being a new biker is exciting and exhilarating. However, you don’t want to have your adventure cut short when it’s only just begun. Reading up on the basics and ensuring you are fully prepared will go a long way towards ensuring you have a thrilling time while staying safe.