Clothing: Which should I choose?
You should buy the best you can afford, to offer you the most protection in the event of an accident. Look for the CE mark on jackets, trousers and boots. Clothing which is also waterproof, or wearing a waterproof over-suit will make you more comfortable in bad weather, therefore allowing you to concentrate on your riding.
Never buy a second hand helmet, not even from your best friend!
Helmets should be a snug fit, be fastened and should also bear a BSI Kitemark or the EU 22.05 mark as minimum. Visors should be clean and not scratched – do not wear a tinted visor or sunglasses at night. If you are involved in an accident, it is advisable to replace your helmet, even if it shows no obvious signs of damage (it may be damaged internally).
- What checks should I perform?
Each day before setting off, you should check the fluid levels (brake, clutch, coolant etc); ensure all the lights are in working order; make sure the tires are correctly inflated and are not damaged or worn; lubricate the chain after checking for damage/tight spots, and tension; and finally ensure that you have enough fuel for your journey. Following the instructions found in your motorcycle handbook will assist in keeping your bike in pristine condition and help keeps its value.
- Be seen
Other road users are more likely to see you if you make yourself as conspicuous as possible.
How can I do this?
- Wear white or brightly colored helmet and clothing.
- Wear clothing which contains fluorescent material for riding during the day and reflective for night riding.
- Always ride using dipped headlights, even in daylight.
- Use a “defensive” riding position, that is – not in the gutter, up to the white line or too close to the vehicle in front!
- What training will I need?
Just starting out? If you have not yet passed your motorcycle test, or do not hold a current Basic Training certificate, contact your nearest approved motorcycle training school. Make sure you get up-to-date advice as the rules change. “Bikers advice” usually keeps a stock of leaflets.
- I have passed – What next?
When you have passed your test, the real learning curve begins! It is advisable to take some form of further training, when you can be taught skills which are not a requirement of the test. Whether you are a new rider, have been riding for years, or have just returned to biking after a spell away, something new can always be learned on a further training course, whether it be confidence booster, intermediate/refresher or full advanced. If you decide to take an advanced test and pass, you can take advantage of lower insurance costs by up to 15%.
Ricky Orlando’s Motorcycle school is the ideal place to learn how to ride motorcycles. We offer Colorado motorcycle classes for beginners, intermediate, and advanced riders! We also offer dirt classes. Contact us today!
The rider: What can I do to help keep me safe?
Motorcyclists are one of the most vulnerable groups of road users. Be alert and observant at all times – assume the other driver/rider is going to make a mistake and be ready for them! Always ride at a speed suitable for the road conditions and weather, and always ensure you can stop in the distance which you can see to be clear.
Look out for diesel or oil spillages on the road – identifiable by rainbow colors or a distinctive smell, especially on or near roundabouts. Similarly, gravel and pot-holes are a potential danger to motorcyclists.
When planning an overtake, consider all the hazards before you decide to go. Is there an approaching vehicle (from the front or rear), a junction or a lay-by? Can you perform your manoeuvre safely before the hazard is upon you? You can always change your mind.
Consider a “lifesaver” or shoulder check before carrying out manoeuvres – you need to know where other road users are and what they are doing.
… and finally
Make sure you know the Highway Code. It is amended and re-published regularly by the HMSO – don’t get caught out by not knowing what you can and cannot do. Reading additional books, such as “Roadcraft” will provide other helpful hints and tips for safer motorcycling. If in doubt, ask for advice from a professionally qualified advanced riding instructor. A few pounds spent now, along with a couple of hours of your time, will increase your enjoyment and could save your life.
Whether you use your bike every day or are just a “fine-weather” biker, by enhancing your riding skills you can increase your enjoyment of motorcycling, whilst making safer, quicker and smoother progress.
An accident may not be your fault – not much comfort if you are in hospital and your pride and joy is in the workshop (especially if the other vehicle was not insured) – maybe it could have been avoided?