Riding beyond your limits
This one can have horrific consequences, and it usually happens when neophyte bikers suddenly find themselves riding too fast to control their machines. The “no guts no glory” whack of adrenaline you get from speed can put you in a tough corner so fast your head will spin, so take some time to practice emergency maneuvers like panic stops and avoidance steering techniques. Don’t let your abilities be outpaced in unexpected situations or emergencies.
You know what you can do, and to avoid an early end to your riding time, take a gut-check and honestly assess your current skill level.
Failing to read the road
Riding is, no matter what you might think, an athletic pursuit. There’s certainly so much more to it than simply knowing how to get through the gear pattern. There’s not a single vehicle on the road more affected by its surroundings and environment than a bike at speed.
You’ll constantly face the challenges of man-made debris and the mistakes of cagers. Gravel and oil slicks make the road a hazardous strip, and your bike can lose traction on corners, steel plates, railroad tracks and manhole covers. All of them make it feel like you’re suddenly riding on a hockey rink, so vigilance is your number one ally.
Some general rules:
- Steer clear of hazards if at all possible.
- Steady, controlled throttle application while the bike is negotiating a problem surface will save you a case of road rash.
- A firm but relaxed grip on the handlebars will speed your reaction times.
Blowing off your scheduled maintenance
Motorcycles can be tough and their simplicity makes them easier to manage mechanically, but parts and tires tend to wear out quicker. This means your bike has a shorter maintenance loop, and you have to pay attention to that timeline. Tires and brakes need to be changed frequently on a bike, and do yourself a favor, check and service them sooner rathr than later.
Check your battery and electric system performance regularly. Lights are your friend…
Running out of gas
Being stuck on the side of the road with a useless motorcycle is an embarrassing situation. Motorcycles get great mileage, but with an average tank which holds between three and to five gallons of fuel, your range is a major consideration. Finding yourself way out in the serious boondocks riding on fumes is just no damn fun.
The simple solution is to never let your fuel level fall below the quarter tank mark. Trust us, it’s just a good idea. Do it…
You need fuel too, don’t get dehydrated
You’re in the sun for the duration of a ride, and sweating under protective gear deprives you of the fluids you need. Dehydration causes fatigue, headaches and a general lack of mental focus.
You simply don’t realize you’re dehydrated until it’s too late, and that can spell disaster.
Replace lost liquids before you know you need them and avoid that pitfall. Experts say drinking a bottle of water for every two hours of riding time is a working formula, and you should drink more if you suddenly feel thirsty you’re riding in hot weather.
Riding past your limits and into mental exhaustion
We know, you want to squeeze in every last mile on a road trip or a beautiful day, but your enthusiasm can lead to physical and mental fatigue.
Never go out further than you can come back. Be conservative with amount of miles you ride until you know the limits your “Iron Butt’ can handle.
Going over the high side or misjudging corners
This is Public Enemy Number One when it comes to suffering riding accidents, and it generally comes from riding wide, going into a curve too quickly or selecting an improperly high gear through the bends. Motorcycle fatality statistics are clear on this – single vehicle accidents are top the list of mishaps.
It comes down to “pilot error” most of the time, so don’t be that pilot and don’t make that error…
Following the crowd
Helmets and protective gear and what kind of clothes to wear should be singular choices, and new bikers tend to compromise the freedom and individuality riding is all about.
You don’t have to follow fashion when you’re new to the game, just find your way on your own.
Find your own road, but have the good common sense to wear gear that will keep you from looking like roadkill should the worst happen. Protect your eyes. Protect your hands. And above all, protect your head.