Logbook Loans Tips: Top 10 safety tips for new motorcyclists
So the great moment has arrived! You can officially tear up your L-plates and go it alone. The freedom of the road is yours and great adventures lie ahead.
But before you head off into the proverbial sunset, just make sure that you stay safe. It is a shocking fact that, according to the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than people in a car. Almost half of these fatalities are the result of single-vehicle crashes. The general risk is even higher for older motorcyclists: riders over 60 years old are three times more likely to be hospitalised after a crash than younger riders.
With that in mind, you also need to follow Logbook Loans’ Top Ten Tips below to keep safe on the road:
- Take safety seriously
The first safety advice to note is that almost half motorcycle fatalities involve speeding, and just slightly less than that involve alcohol. So if you eliminate those factors for starters you’ve already significantly reduced your risk.
- Never stop learning
First and foremost: Just because you tore up those L-plates doesn’t mean that you know everything! There is always more to learn and you can always improve your riding. Do consider a safety course with an organisation such as a police-led Bikesafe workshop or the government Enhanced Rider Scheme: the DVSA certificate of competence from this can give you discounts with most motorcycle insurers.
- Find a bike that suits your needs
There’s a lot of truth in the old saying “don’t bite off more than you can chew”. Find a bike that you like and that is also suitable for your current needs: you can always upgrade later if you need to. But make sure that it is comfortable for you and that you can easily reach all the controls. Get an engine size that matches the type of riding that you want to do: don’t be tempted to get more than you can handle.
- Wear a helmet
It is a sad fact that riders who do not wear a helmet are 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury in a crash and 33% more likely to suffer brain injuries, than those who do. In the UK it is the law to wear a safety helmet that meets British safety standards when riding a motorcycle or moped on the road. The best type of helmet is a full-face helmet that is strong, lightweight, and comfortable. Not only are helmets essential for safety but they also cut down on wind noise and fatigue. Do remember to replace your helmet periodically, at least every five years, as they deteriorate over time.
- Protective gear
Whilst there is no law about wearing any other protective clothing apart from a helmet, specialised motorcycle gear is highly recommended, and could save your life. The best combination is a leather or other reinforced jacket, which gives good protection to the body. Look out for specially designed jackets with padding and breathable mesh material that will provide ventilation as well as protection. Make sure you have effective eye protection such as a helmet visor or goggles. Also consider gloves, long trousers, and some kind of over-the-ankle footwear. Whilst black is the standard attire for bikers, do bear in mind the need to be visible and consider including some brightly coloured gear in the mix.
- Antilock brakes
These can literally be a life saver because they enable you to retain steering control during any kind of emergency stop situation, including in slippery conditions. They prevent the brakes locking up and can make a significant difference to your chances of surviving a potentially fatal crash. Well worth the investment and you may also get an insurance discount in return.
- Avoid bad weather
Even with antilock brakes, it’s advisable to avoid bad weather when possible. Rain reduces your visibility and also makes your tyres less able to grip on the road, particularly just after rain starts and water causes oil residue to rise to the top. Slippery conditions reduce your margin for error so be careful when cornering and manoeuvring to avoid sliding. Windy conditions are also hazardous for bikes as they can cause a push from the side: try to minimise the effects of this by moving to the side of the lane the wind is coming from.
- Beware hazards
There is always something happening on the roads! But remember that a bike is more vulnerable to these than a car, and can easily slide due to objects such as sand, wet leaves, or stones. You’ll also find that bumps and potholes that may go unnoticed in a car can be a real threat when on a bike. Try to avoid such hazards wherever possible but if you can’t, then slow down drastically and approach with care, to reduce the chances of a skid.
- Check before you go
Before each ride, walk round your bike to make sure your lights, horn, and signals are all working properly. Also check that all mechanical parts seem to be undamaged and in working order, and inspect the tyres for wear and tear, and check that they are set at the proper pressure.
- Fuel up for take off
Last but not least, make sure that you have enough fuel for your journey – and that you know where the fuel valve is if needed. Many bikes have a fuel petcock valve with three positions: ON, OFF, and RES. If your bike is getting empty as you drive along, it will start to hiccup. At this point you need to switch it to RES – short for “Reserve” – otherwise the bike will come to a complete halt. You then need to refuel as soon as possible and turn the valve back to ON before you ride away from the pump.
So, congratulations on becoming a fully-fledged motorcyclist! Enjoy every minute and stay safe with the above tips from Logbook Loans.
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