So you finally found the perfect motorcycle and you’re ready to ride. But before you fire up your first hog, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Riding a motorcycle is different than riding a standard bicycle or driving a car. To keep yourself and others safe, you need to know certain rules, buy appropriate gear and equipment, and have a handle on motorcycle lingo. To jumpstart your riding dreams and turn you from an amateur to a pro, here’s a list of helpful tips that all first-time riders should know.
Purchase the right gear
Before hopping on your bike, you need to make sure you have the necessary gear. Of course you should wear a helmet, but that’s not the only essential item you’ll need. You should have riding gloves, a motorcycle jacket, a sturdy pair of boots that go over your ankles, and motorcycle pants — not jeans. If something goes awry and you slam onto the pavement, you want to be properly covered.
In addition to what you’re wearing, you also want to make sure the right gear for your bike is with you when riding. Carry motorcycle batteries, a tire-repair kit, a flashlight, a headlight bulb, extra fuses, and spark plugs. And bring zip ties, duct tape, and rope to solve small problems that could arise during your journey,
Turn off the choke
A choke helps to start up the motorcycle when it’s cold. However, you don’t want to leave the choke on for too long as it wastes gas and oil. While it’s common for new riders to forget, try to get in the habit of turning it off. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting valuable (and expensive) fuel.
Just like when driving a car, check your mirrors before riding. Once you are set up and ready to ride, adjust your mirrors so you can see everything around you. You should sit up straight so as to not have your body in the frame. You may have to use a wrench to adjust the mirrors, as some motorcycles are equipped with two nuts locking against each other.
While you might have the urge to speed when cruising on your motorcycle, don’t do it. As a new rider, it’s better to take your time and learn how your new bike operates. When riding, make sure to use hand signals and compared to driving, ride defensively. Drivers might not be aware or see your bike, so stay alert.
Check the parts
Inspect your motorcycle before taking it for a ride. Check the chain to see if it is in good condition. It should move freely and not be too loose or too tight. And if the motorcycle is belt-driven, check the belt to see if it’s cracked or torn.
Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have enough tread. Check to ensure all the lights work — headlights, turn signals and brake lights — and check for oil leaks. You’ll want to check the oil as well and replace the oil if it’s a new bike.
The brakes should be checked thoroughly too. To see if they’re fit for riding, grab both brakes while the motorcycle is stopped and not running. To ensure your safety, make sure the throttle snaps back into place. Check all the controls and buttons before hitting the road and adjust accordingly. The last thing you want is to get distracted and play with an unfamiliar button while riding.
If anything on the bike looks strange, worn out, or gives you an uncomfortable feeling, don’t ride it. Trust your gut: a faulty kill switch or bumper repair is best to take care of before riding, instead of taking a serious risk. Even the most experienced riders know safety comes first.