Spring is just around the corner. For many motorcyclists, this means the official start of riding season. In the state of Washington, there are more than 225,000 registered motorcycles, with the number of motorcycle sales and registration increasing each year. If you’re a new motorcycle rider gearing up for the season, brace yourself. You are about to embark on an incredibly fun, exciting and rewarding adventure.
Our team at Evergreen Motorcycle Attorneys have compiled a list of our top five motorcycle tips that every new rider should know before twisting the throttle and hitting the road for the first time.
1. Gear up properly
Whether you’re an experienced motorcyclist or new to riding, safety should always be your highest priority. Before getting on your bike, make sure that you’re outfitted with the appropriate motorcycle safety gear. Good riding gear is essential and it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t wear it. This includes top grade motorcycle pants, jackets, accessories and boots. Also, you can get cold on the road, dressing in layers will help ensure you get the maximum amount of warmth without feeling bulky. In one of our recent blog posts, we discussed what to look for when choosing the right motorcycle safety gear. To read the article, click here.
2. Always perform a pre-ride inspection
Before you go for a cruise, always perform a thorough pre-ride inspection of your motorcycle to help keep you safe on the road. Inspect your tires to see if they are properly inflated, as low tire pressure can cause handling problems and affect fuel consumption. Give your bike a good once-over to see if there are any loose bolts, leaks or other potential mechanical hazards. Check the chain or belt tension. Don’t forget to check your lights, brakes, belt, chain and fluids before hitting the road.
3. Plan ahead & Ride defensively
The weather here in the Pacific Northwest can be unpredictable during spring—sunshine one minute, and rain the next. Be sure to check weather forecasts and traffic conditions that could affect your riding experience. Our best tip is to take the time to plan out your route in advance. The more familiar you are with your route, the easier it will be for you to focus on safe riding.
As a new rider, one of the most important things you need to learn how to do is ride defensively. While you can’t do anything about the actions of other motorists, you can control how you react to potential traffic dangers on the road. You can also anticipate that other riders will not see you or try to avoid you. Scan every intersection for cars as you approach and anticipate that those cars do not see you and will not yield to you. Essentially, plan to ride as if you and your bike are invisible to cars on the road.
Two popular tips you often hear within the motorcycle community are: drive like your invisible and always have an “escape” plan. Due to the size of your bike compared to other vehicles on the road, you should assume that other motorists don’t see you. Also, you should always have an escape route for every lane change, intersection and traffic stop.
Finally, it never hurts to make yourself more visible. Wear bright reflective colors. I’d rather be seen than stylish. Consider installing a headlight modulator. These can really help draw attention to your bike on the road.
4. Know your bike & know your skill level
It’s important to fully understand your bike and how it runs before going on a long ride this spring. Depending on the bike type or manufacturer, some bikes have fuel gauges, while others don’t. It’s vital to know the fuel economy and fuel capacity, so you know its range.
There are times and places to push yourself and expand the limits of your riding abilities. However, you should always be conscious of your skills and stay well within your abilities—especially on city roads with other motorists around. If you’re riding alongside other motorcyclists, don’t let others push you beyond your comfort level. Never ride on terrain or perform maneuvers that you don’t feel comfortable with.
With practice comes confidence. Over time, you will begin to develop skills and gain more control of your bike.
5. Understand Washington motorcycle law
Before hitting the road, you should be well-versed in Washington motorcycle safety laws. Make sure you have your DOL motorcycle endorsement. Also, we highly recommend taking a motorcycle safety course at an approved motorcycle training school. The list of motorcycle training schools can be found on the WA State Department of Licensing website. If you have any questions or concerns regarding Washington motorcycle safety laws, don’t hesitate to contact our team at Evergreen Motorcycle Attorneys. We’re here to support motorcycles—both veterans and beginners alike—in the event that the worst happens.
Ride smart, stay safe and we’ll see you out there on the open road!