If you’re considering buying a used motorcycle, you appreciate the freedom and close-to-the-road feeling that comes with motorcycling. And, as your non-cycling friends will no doubt remind you, riding a motorcycle also involves risks. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize those risks and help ensure a safer ride.
1. Take a motorcycle safety training class. If you’re new to riding (or even if you’re not), a hands-on motorcycle safety training class, or refresher course, is important to staying safe on the road. You must have a DMV issued motorcycle instruction permit or a DMV-issued motorcycle license to participate in the class.
2. Get first-class gear. For starters, you need a high-quality motorcycle helmet; never buy a used helmet. Look for the Department of Transportation (DOT) label to ensure it meets federal safety standards. A face shield is preferable. If your helmet doesn’t have a face shield, invest in a good pair of goggles with safety lenses. A leather motorcycle jacket and motorcycle pants help provide durable protection against a variety of road hazards, such as rocks and debris. Plus, in the event of an accident, it can help minimize injury from the asphalt, cement, gravel or dirt.
3. Always follow the posted speed limit, regardless of whether the road appears completely empty. It’s also important to ride within your own skill limits, rather than trying to keep up with other riders. In a group, always maintain a proper cushion between riders, so each has enough space—and time—to react to hazards. Avoid side-by-side formations, which reduce that cushion. Make sure to check your mirrors periodically to make sure no one in your group is having a problem or falling behind.
4. Be respectful of other drivers by always using signals. Avoid tailgating, which can lead to accidents. Stay away from driving on the shoulder and don’t weave in and out through traffic.
5. Be prepared for the challenges of the road. Make sure you ride with a cell phone, tool kit and first aid kit.
6. Never ride impaired by alcohol or other drugs. This goes for over-the-counter medications that can make you drowsy. A clear head and sharp reflexes are essential for operating a motorcycle. Impaired drivers are also more likely to speed, and less likely to signal and wear proper safety equipment.
Remember, safety first! And many hours of enjoyment will follow.