How to Purchase and Safely Ride Your Motorcycle
From our e-newsletter
Whether buying your first motorcycle, upgrading or just interested in a safer ride, keep these safety tips in mind before hitting the road:
• Don't buy more bike than you can handle. When shopping for a bike, start with one that fits you. When seated, you should easily be able to rest both feet flat on the ground without having to be on tiptoes. Handlebars and controls should be within easy reach. Choose a model that's easy for you to get on and off the center stand; if it feels too heavy, it probably is.
• Invest in antilock brakes (ABS). Now available on a wide array of models, antilock brakes are a proven lifesaver. ABS helps you retain steering control during an emergency stop, and it can be especially valuable in slippery conditions. This critical feature is now standard on many high-end models and adds only a few hundred dollars to the price of more basic bikes. You may be able to offset some of the cost with an insurance discount.
• Take a riding course. A Motorcycle Safety Foundation course or similar class can teach you the basics, as well as advanced techniques such as how to perform evasive emergency maneuvers. You may also be eligible for an insurance discount and, in some states, skip the road test and/or the written test as part of licensing. Some motorcycle manufacturers offer a credit toward the cost of a new motorcycle or training if a rider signs up for an MSF course. The MSF website lists about 2,700 course locations around the country.
• Wear a helmet. Helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders, 41% for passengers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,859 motorcyclists in 2016. If all motorcyclists killed that year had worn helmets, an additional 802 lives may have been saved. Best choice is a full-face helmet that's approved by the Department of Transportation.
• Wear the right gear. You want gear that will protect you from wind chill, flying bugs and debris, and road rash if you should slide out. For maximum protection, go for a leather or other reinforced jacket, gloves, full pants and over-the-ankle footwear, even in summer. Specially designed jackets with rugged padding and breathable mesh provide protection as well as ventilation for riding in warm weather. You'll also want effective eye protection like a helmet visor or goggles. And gear in bright colors will make it easier for drivers to see you.
• Be defensive. The truth is, motorcycle riders face a much greater risk of death in a crash – 28 times more likely in fact – than the occupants of a motor vehicle. Motorists frequently "don't see" motorcyclists, a problem that has only grown worse with distracted driving. Drive defensively by pretending you are invisible. Be alert to cars suddenly changing lanes, turning in front of you, or pulling out from side streets. Keep a safe following distance, both to ensure enough time to stop or react to debris in the road. And driving between cars side-by-side on a two-lane road or on the shoulder is inviting trouble.
We wish you a safe and fun motorcycle season! Sometimes, unfortunately, no matter how attentive motorcyclists are to safety, other drivers fail to observe the rules of the road and accidents happen. For the motorcyclist, there is a lot at stake if a crash occurs as the result of another driver's negligence. If you or a loved one are injured in a motorcycle accident, we have the experience and grit to get you the compensation you deserve. At Lord + Heinlein, we are your powerful legal voice. For a free consultation call 612-333-5673.