Driving a motorcycle can be exhilarating. They are fast, flexible, and give a feeling of power you rarely get with other vehicles. Motorcycle riders describe driving their bikes as having a sense of freedom and connecting with the world around them.
But motorcycles are also quite dangerous. Both experienced and inexperienced drivers can end up in fatal motorcycle accidents with other motorists or vehicles. In fact, in 2019, there were 5014 motorcyclist deaths due to collisions or motorcycle malfunction. Motorcycle drivers are 29 times more likely to die in a crash and four times more likely to be injured than a passenger occupant in other vehicles.
Being safe and avoiding accidents on a motorcycle takes skill, coordination, and a good reaction time. In a quest to promote motorcycle safety, here are things to look for before you ride your motorcycle and a few safety tips.
Motorcycle Inspection Checklist: What to Look For Before Riding?
Before you get on your bike and take it for your first ride on the open road, there are a few things you should do. These pre-check inspection items can help you detect any mechanical issues and maintenance issues. By checking if your bike is in perfect shape, you can prevent auto accidents and collisions with other drivers and ensure that you are safe and protected.
1) Inspect Your Wheels
For a motorcyclist to ride safely, the bike has to be in perfect shape. And one of the most important things is the health of your wheels and tires. You should inspect and pay attention to those first.
Take a few minutes to check and double-check your tire pressure and two wheels. The tire pressure can provide information if your wheels are in good condition or not. This is especially important if the weather has recently changed.
Check the tire treads and focus on whether there are worn spots, objects, or bulges that have punctured the tire or are lodges in there. Look at the spokes and rims, and see if there is any separation between the rim and the wheel.
Because motorcyclists have less control in case of a blown tire, checking your two wheels can save you from a devastating crash and severe injuries.
2) Inspect Brake Pads and Discs
Next up on the list are your brakes, pads, and discs. When riding your bike, you should always remain aware of other drivers and vehicles on the road. When changing lanes or in a chain drive, you should assess if you're keeping a safe distance from others and if you can brake on time.
If you're driving in inclement weather or challenging conditions such as cold, snow, or ice, braking on time is crucial. If you have brake problems that you don't fix immediately, you could end up with a road rash or worse.
Check the brakes, pads, and discs for wear, weathering, tread depth, and more. Test each brake individually so you can make sure they prevent your bike from rolling over. You should also check if you have enough brake fluid or if it needs to be refilled. And while you're there, change your bike's air filter too.
Healthy brakes make for more exciting and safe motorcycle rides. And if you keep your brakes from wear, you can avoid incurring more maintenance costs.
3) Check Your Handlebars, Levers, and Pedals
Tires, brakes, handles: this should be your initial trio of inspections.
Once you've done the first two, make sure that your handlebar, levers, and pedals can handle riding the motorcycle in warm weather, wet roads, and are in good condition to support you when you change lanes.
Rotate the handlebar to see whether you can turn them around and have a better grip on them. Check controls on your handlebars, such as your throttle and clutch, and see whether those are easy to operate. Adjust the play in your clutch lever so you have the right level of clutch slack.
At the same time, press the pedals and see if they work well. These checks are essential for your bike, especially if you own older bikes.
4) Clean the carburetor and drain the tank
At least once a year, or if you haven't been on your motorcycle for some time, you should clean the carburetor and drain the tank from any remaining gas and fuel.
If the motorcycle has been stored for a while, condensation can form in the gas tank during winter, changing the tank's chemical makeup. That's not necessarily a good thing because you might have difficulties in starting the motorcycle.
Find a store and purchase a liquid carburetor cleaner so you can remove any varnish residue or unscrew the motorcycle jets to deep clean it. If you want to avoid doing this procedure very often, try adding fuel stabilizer and running the engine for a few minutes before you store your bike for winter.
5) Check Your Lights
Working lights on a motorcycle can be life-saving. If your lights aren't working correctly, other vehicles on the road might have difficulties understanding how much space they should give you on a motorcycle.
With good lighting, you provide others on the road a chance to react quickly to your actions and ensure motorcycle safety.
Take a few minutes to inspect your brake lights, headlights, taillights, high beams, and turn signals. Look at their condition and wiring to make sure everything is intact and working the way it should.
6) Gauge Fluid Levels
Ensuring motorcycle safety includes gauging fluid levels, and this one is left out of many checklists. You should look at the brake fluid, transmission, oil, fuel, and coolant fluid levels.
Inspect the color and viscosity of all fluids and any oil to identify if you have any issues that might cause problems during your motorcycle ride. If you notice any brown muck anywhere, clean it immediately.
7) Check the Motorcycle Driving System
Whether you are using a belt drive or shaft drive, it makes sense to make sure they're intact. Check the driving system and engine, and see if anything is worn or torn. Such system malfunctions can be fatal to motorcyclists like you.
8) Look Over the Controls
You should never skip looking over the controls when going through your safety checklist. Check all cables, hoses, and controls of your motorcycle. Check that everything is moving smoothly and has the right amount of tension. Any changes in controls can impact safety and could injure you or other riders and passengers.
9) Check Your Gear
Checking everything else in the motorcycle makes sure that it doesn't malfunction on the road. Inspecting your gear ensures that if anything malfunctions, you have protection.
Check your DOT-approved helmet for any cracks, and make sure the visor is clean. Check your protective clothing for any tears and wear it to see if it fits well and is comfortable. Make sure to have bright clothing, so you are noticeable on the road.
Safety Tips for Motorcycle Owners
Once you complete your inspection, it's time to ride your motorcycle on the road. While using good judgment is always instructed, here are a few safety tips for riding your bike on the road.
Tip #1: Take a Motorcycle Driving And Safety Course
Before you take any motorcycles outside, you should know how to ride them. Take a driving and safety course beforehand to be familiar with motorcycles, understand safety protocols and know-how to prevent injuries.
Courses will have a specific curriculum to teach you, and you can learn from an experienced instructor. You'll learn the basics of motorcycles, both in theory and practice. In the end you'll be a pro at riding a motorcycle.
Tip #2: Check the Weather
The weather can make or break your motorcycle ride. You should make sure that the weather conditions are good and support riding a motorcycle on the road.
Avoid wet or icy roads because they make driving even more difficult. The motorcycle will be unstable, even less than a car. The lack of a windshield also means you're exposed to the elements.
Check how much visibility you have. The weather might be fine, but there could be fog which increases the danger of riding any motorcycle.
Tip #3: Wear the Right Gear
You could ride your motorcycle looking cool in a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals, but that's a recipe for disaster and also completely illegal. The right gear is crucial to the safety of motorcyclists because you don't have the iron body of a car to protect you in case of an injury.
Riders can get the proper protection with the right helmet, leather jacket, pants, and boots. If you have an open-faced helmet, then consider getting goggles or glasses.
You must also always have gloves to protect your hands. If the weather is too warm, invest in proper gear that helps with ventilation and cooling. But under no circumstances should motorcyclists be on the road without a helmet and adequate protective gear.
Tip #4: Inspect Your Motorcycle Before Every Ride
Even though you should properly inspect motorcycles every season, you should also give them a look and a short inspection before every ride. Check the tire pressure, mirrors, signals, headlights, and gas levels.
Go around your bike, just looking at it to see if any bolts are loose or if there are any leaks. All these checks will offer protection and prevent a possible motorcycle accident or injury.
Tip #5: Obey Traffic Rules And Use Signals
There's a reason why rules and regulations exist for motorcyclists and other drivers. Riding a motorcycle on an empty road can be dangerous, let alone when you consider other cars, bike riders, and pedestrians. That's why you should ride defensively and obey traffic rules.
Give drivers enough time to adjust their reactions by using your signals at the appropriate time when trying to change your lane. Use your mirrors to check for other drivers approaching you and avoid high speed on roads where pedestrians are present.
Tip #6: Watch for Road Hazards
Road debris can be present whenever you're riding your bike, so you should have the right speed to avoid it. By obeying traffic rules and engaging in defensive driving, you will be on an excellent track to avoid colliding with debris or other road hazards, especially in specific conditions, such as rain.
Tip #7: Carry a First Aid Kit
You've done proper maintenance and checked your tires, are wearing the appropriate gear, including helmet and gloves, and have gone through the checklist with flying colors. But the road is still unpredictable, and something could malfunction, or you could get into an accident.
Riders should carry a first aid kit with them at all times. The kit will help you in case of any injuries, at least until you seek medical help.
Tip #8: Be Comfortable with a Passenger
Riding bikes on your own is one thing, but having a passenger with you is another. You're now responsible for another person and should follow good driving practices and safety instructions. The passenger must have a helmet, gloves, and similar gear to the main driver. Avoid driving with a passenger in the rain as it could make it challenging, and the risk of injuries is too high.
Tip #9: Don't Drink and Drive
Just like with any transportation method, bikers must never drink and drive.
Being intoxicated leads to more accidents and injuries and could end up being fatal. Drinking makes operating any machinery extremely difficult, and you could end up going on the wrong lane, hurting someone else or yourself badly. So make sure you're always sober and alert before riding your motorcycle.
Motorcycles are exciting transportation methods, and you could have a lot of fun riding them. But, at the same time, they're also quite dangerous, and if you're not careful, they could be fatal. That's why properly inspecting your motorcycle and following safe driving tips is key to staying safe. Always check your tires, oil levels, have the proper gear, and more.
But, accidents happen, and in every case, an attorney can make sure you recover financially, as you focus on recovering physically. If you or a loved one has experienced a motorcycle injury or accident, book a no-obligation case review with Schwartz Law Firm. With over $1 million recovered annually in personal injury settlements, our experienced legal team is here to guide you through any legal hurdles.