Life on two wheels – motorcycle safety tips for beginners

Photo: Duncan Adler

There’s no denying that riding a motorcycle is an exhilarating and fun experience. Nothing comes close to the adrenaline, sense of freedom and adventure that open-air riding provides. Apart from the speed and thrill, riders get to enjoy the ease of movement, stress and tension reduction and the support of a close-knit community, not to mention the coolness of cruising on two wheels.

But beyond all the benefits that draw people to motorcycle riding and the immense popularity that this form of transportation and hobby enjoys, there’s also a dark side to it. Statistics reveal that motorcyclists are one of the most vulnerable groups of road users, being 62 times more likely to suffer a fatal traffic accident than car drivers. What’s more, the leading cause of accidents involving motorbikes is negligence. And despite the gradual reduction in the number of fatal motorcycle accidents over the years, there are still approximately 21,000 motorbike accidents in the UK resulting in serious injuries or death each year, so the risk of motorcycle riding shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Given the figures, safety should be a top priority for all riders, but especially for those who are just starting out. So, if you want to experience life on two wheels, here are a few important safety tips that you should keep in mind.

Get road ready

Hopping on your motorcycle with a carefree attitude and heading into the unknown makes for a very poetic image but one that’s not very safe if you come to think about it. You need to prepare properly before you get in the saddle to ensure that both you and your motorcycle are ready to hit the road. That implies taking a few simple steps that can make the difference between smooth trips and bumpy rides.

First of all, you have to conduct a pre-ride inspection of your motorcycle, checking things like brakes, tire pressure, fuel, oil, lights and turn signals, and mirrors. Regular maintenance should help you keep your motorcycle in the best condition for longer and considerably reduce the likelihood of malfunctions, so you can enjoy peace of mind when you’re on the road.

Don’t forget about the external factors that might influence your ride. Even the most experienced riders can have a hard time controlling their bikes when unfavourable weather conditions come into play. Therefore, it’s best to postpone your trip if rain, snow, strong winds or ice are in the forecast.

Planning your itinerary also helps a lot. Studying your route will make it easier for you to identify and avoid obstacles in due time, and adjust your riding to the conditions of the road. Last but not least, you need to wear adequate motorcycle safety gear like a helmet, gloves, jacket, boots and pants, not just to enhance protection in case of an accident, but also to make your rides more pleasant and comfortable.

Play by the rules

This should go without saying, but considering some riders’ habits, one can’t stress this point enough: you need to obey traffic rules and regulations at all times. When you break the rules, not only are you risking getting a hefty fine and wearing down your motorcycle which can result in a total loss if you get involved in an accident, but you’re also putting your life and other people’s safety on the line, and no amount of thrill and excitement is worth taking that kind of risk.

The fact that motorcycles can accelerate faster than other vehicles and reach impressive speeds, allowing riders the freedom to navigate roads with greater ease, might have one thinking there’s no harm in bending the rules a bit. However, one wrong move can spell disaster for bikers and other traffic participants. Think of that when you feel the urge to accelerate above the speed limit.

Stay alert

Riding a motorbike is a truly immersive experience: you are out in the open, with nothing but your gear separating you from the elements, and enjoying the freedom of movement while taking in the surrounding scenery. The beauty and serenity of motorcycle riding can envelop you in a meditation-like state, and while that might sound alluring, it’s not ideal from a safety point of view.

Distracted driving is a leading cause of motorcycle accidents. Therefore, it’s extremely important to remain alert and pay close attention to your surroundings. Keep your eyes on the road, make yourself visible and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you. Try to look as further in front of you as possible to ensure you have enough time to react in case something happens. And if you’re riding in groups, make sure you pay attention to your mates and ride in an organized manner in order to avoid any mishaps.

Improve your riding skills

Getting a motorcycle license means that you’ve learned the rules of the road and acquired the necessary skills to operate a motorcycle safely. Unfortunately, a license doesn’t guarantee you safe rides. As a beginner biker, there’s definitely a lot of room to improve your riding skills. But you’re not going to be able to do that unless you practice.

Since getting on the road can be intimidating if you’re not fully confident in your riding abilities, it’s best to train in a safe environment until you’re ready to go out into the world. You can take a safety course and learn about the strategies and actions that can help you stay out of danger in different circumstances, or join an advanced riding program to refine your riding skills and boost your confidence on the road

Motorcycles open a whole new world of adventures and riding opportunities. But these adventures are a lot more fun when you know you’re safe and in control. So, keep these tips in mind and put them into practice so you can enjoy amazing experiences on two wheels in the future.