A guide to staying alive on your motorcycle (long ride)



Freedom is a car less open road, a full tank of petrol and an engine between your legs. There really is no feeling on earth that can compare. Slicing through the wind, gripping the road, it is the closest we, as humans get to heaven. The flipside is – hell is just a bad decision or a misstep away.

Safety is never more important than when you are riding a motorcycle. Compared to a car, we riders are without seatbelts, airbags, crumple zones or a.b.s brakes – it is just our bodies, our machines, and the unforgiving tarmac. Preparation and common sense are the only two safeguards allowing us to ride that exhilarating line between heaven and hell. We have put together a few guidelines to make sure you stay on the right side.

The Gear

It doesn’t just look cool (but if you buy right, it will look badass!) motorcycle gear is essential to keeping your skin on, your bones intact and your heart beating. Think of your gear as the walls and doors of your car; your last line of defense in the event of a crash. Whether the impact is with the road, another vehicle or your own bike you need to protect yourself. Your helmet is the most obvious and most vital piece of equipment. Wearing a helmet, according to a 2008 study reduces riders risk of permanent head injuries by 69% and death by approximately 42%. Which style or type of helmet is the best for aesthetics, comfort and safety are always a cause for debate amongst bikers. Whether it is the full face, the motocross, a modular flip-up, open face or the half helmet, pick your style and stick to it. Every time, every ride.

Ensuring that you are wearing adequate protective equipment isn’t just a fashion statement, it’s insurance against death on the roads. Jackets, gloves, boots, and pants are essential to keeping your skin attached to your bones. If you have ever seen a rider with gravel rash, you would never grumble about loading on the bulky gear. Whether you choose traditional leather or new age Ballistic Nylon like Cordura, Kevlar or Lycra; having the full suit safeguards your body against serious injury or death. We highly recommend the use of clothing or gear with inbuilt armor – dense foam or rubber padding built into either leather or fabric motorcycle gear. You can also purchase stand-alone armor, which you tuck under your existing gear. Don’t be that guy or girl – proudly riding around with no leathers or gear, because sooner or later, you will be that guy or girl in the hospital, growing back your skin from a petri-dish in the burns unit of your local hospital – it’s just not worth it.

Your Bike

Making sure your motorcycle is always serviced, tuned and in it’s best working order is your safest bet against mechanical failure on the road. Find your local mechanic or do it yourself, either way – knowing that your machine is performing well is going to save you money on fuel and possibly save your life. Checking your tires and replacing them as soon as any wear and tear are visible is the next best thing to a brand new bike, they grip you to the earth, help you out of sticky situations and let you break at breakneck speed. Most bikes are fitted with incredibly powerful brake systems, check the lines and the pads before every ride. Look after them and they will look after you.


Practice makes perfect

Inexperienced riders are more dangerous than mechanical failures and bad weather conditions combined. If you are new to the biking world or haven’t been on a motorbike for a while, find your local training facility and clock a few hours. Ease into it with gentle country or suburban rides before throwing yourself into the fast lane in the city or dangerous mountain curves. Without experience and confidence, it is easy to hesitate and falter on a motorbike, a very easy way to get very seriously hurt.

Planning your journey

It takes a whole lot more concentration to ride long distances than it does to drive them. And, being out in the elements, even under all the layers of protective equipment, the weather plays a big factor in your safe journey. Stopping ever few hours to stretch your back, relax your grip on the throttle (not to mention giving your behind a rest from the engine vibration and the pressure of sitting) is the best way to fight against mental and physical fatigue. Even with the best handling bike in the world, if your legs are cramping from keeping your body on top of the machine you won’t be at your best. Plus, the journey is the point of riding, not the destination, so stop, eat and enjoy your ride!

Common Sense

Speed

We all know the feeling; humming along with the road, no one in sight, a perfectly dry day and you want to open it up and see just how fast you can take your engine. It’s a nagging feeling we all have on nearly every ride. A temptation we have to ignore in order to survive. A quarter of most single vehicle motorcycle accidents is a result of the bike and rider coming in contact with the road or some permanent object on the roadside due to over-acceleration. Slowing down allows you to pay attention and enjoy your ride.

Turns

Taking a corner or a turn too quickly can be deadly, and is one of the most common non-impact related accidents you can have on your bike. This is much the same as our point on speed; take it easy! Never ride faster than you can visually cater for, using landmarks like signs or trees as a rule of thumb for which direction a road is turning. Keep in mind you never know what is around the bend – it could be gravel, a pedestrian or a halted bank of cars. So slowing into every corner will reduce your risk of impact and reduce your need to lean into the turn, meaning the chance you will spin out or graze the road with your knee will be severely reduced. Two-thirds of all motorcycle accidents in the U.S. are caused by slid out’ from over-breaking on a curve or over-speeding when taking the corner. Take care out there and you will arrive alive.

Riding Etiquette In Traffic

Swerving, weaving or speeding in traffic are deadly decisions. Your unpredictable behavior is akin to

signing your death certificate. Be courteous to other drivers and riders on the road and always remember, if you can’t see their mirrors they can’t see you.

See you on the Road..

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