Four Motorcycle Safety Tips That I Learned the Hard Way
Everyone knows the basics of motorcycle safety--wear your helmet, pay attention, no wheelies--but here are some tips that you may not have heard.
1. Remember to put up your kickstand!
I have only wiped out once on the road, and it was because I forgot to put my kickstand up. My kickstand has a rubber tab that is meant to kick it back up before the kickstand itself hits the ground. Unfortunately, I took a sharp enough turn that it didn’t work and I spun out immediately. Thankfully I was only going about 15mph and I wasn’t in heavy traffic. Things could have turned out much worse.
2. Take care of your chain!
Many riders overlook chain maintenance. Not only is your chain critical to keeping your bike moving, but a poorly maintained chain can be a safety hazard. If your chain locks up, you could go into a skid. If your chain flies apart, high-speed debris could cause serious injury. Depending on your chain type, you should be lubricating as often as every ride. Check the owner’s manual for your bike for chain care instructions. Don’t forget to inspect your front and rear drive sprockets as well. It’s a good idea to replace your sprockets whenever you replace your chain.
3. Mind your footwear!
Never wear sandals when you ride. They simply do not offer adequate protection for your feet. Shoes are better, leather boots are best. Also, if your laces hang out, tuck them in! This is another lesson I learned the hard way. I have had shoe laces snag on engine bolts when I went to put my foot down at a stop, causing me to fall over. Thankfully I was in my own garage and I didn’t have a passenger.
4. Don’t forget about the sun!
When you’re out on a summer ride and you have the breeze keeping you relatively cool, it’s easy to forget about how much sun you’re exposed to. I have had my share of sunburn and even sun poisoning from riding without sunscreen. Don’t make the same mistake! It’s painful and very dangerous; Excessive sun exposure can even cause skin cancer. Also remember to drink lots of water. Carry plenty with you and drink up at least every time you stop for fuel.
These are just a few lessons you may have never heard, but remember that there's a lot more to being safe on your bike!