Every year, more and more women consider purchasing a motorcycle. The demographics of motorcycle riders are expanding, with nearly 20 percent of motorcyclists now made up of women. Over the years, motorcycles have gotten sleeker, safer, more affordable, and more available, making them more appealing and easier to get. But they’re still much more dangerous than driving a motor vehicle. If you decide to purchase or ride a motorcycle for yourself, it’s important you know how to do so safely.
Understand the Risks
It’s important to acknowledge that riding a motorcycle is inherently riskier than traveling in a traditional motor vehicle, for two main reasons. First, motorcycles are harder to maneuver in many cases. You’re riding on two wheels instead of four, which means a steering error or a slick road could easily disrupt your balance and/or movement, and ultimately cause a crash.
Second, and even more importantly, riding a motorcycle leaves you exposed. There’s no frame or body of a vehicle to protect you, which means you’re much more likely to sustain injuries if you are in a wreck. This means even the best-skilled and most confident motorcyclists are still at greater risk of injury or death while riding.
One of the most important steps you can take is to improve your visibility. Motorcycles are smaller, nimbler, and sometimes quieter than their traditional vehicle counterparts. This makes them harder to see in blind spots, at stop signs, and in other vulnerable areas—and if people can’t see you, they can’t avoid hitting you.
You can improve your visibility in a few different ways. For starters, you can ride on the edges of lanes; these are much less likely to leave you obscured in other drivers’ lines of sight. You can also use the noise from your motorcycle to make your presence known. Additionally, you can ensure your motorcycle is equipped with proper lighting, and even wear more visible clothing.
Wear Protective Gear
Speaking of clothing, make sure you’re wearing protective gear while you ride. Some states legally require you to wear a helmet while riding, but even if it’s optional, it’s important for you to wear a fully protective helmet; this simple piece of gear could save your life if you’re ever involved in an accident, even if it wasn’t your fault.
Additionally, you’ll want to wear clothes made of a thick material, like leather or denim, and ensure that all areas of your body are covered (including your feet, with boots or thick shoes). If you’re thrown from the vehicle, you’ll want to make sure that your skin is protected from the effects of road rash as much as possible.
Avoid Bad Weather
Most people ride motorcycles when the weather is nice, intentionally to take advantage of it. But some still venture out during bad weather conditions, which include snow, ice, heavy rain, and fog. Each of these conditions presents a new hazard to the average motorcycle driver; sometimes, they make it harder to control the vehicle. Other times, they simply make you harder for other drivers to see. In any case, you’re better off leaving the motorcycle at home during these episodes. If you must go out, take extra precautions.
Buy the Right Bike and Keep It in Good Shape
Many people end up purchasing the “coolest” bike they can afford, which usually means something fast, light, and maneuverable. These bikes are capable of reaching incredible speeds and navigating around tight turns, and in the hands of a skilled rider, they look amazing. The problem is, they can lead you to overestimate your skills or try maneuvers you’re not yet ready for, which can increase your risk of injury or death.
Once you get a bike, it’s important you inspect it regularly and keep it in good condition. A single mechanical failure or fault point could lead to an accident.
Practice in a Safe Environment
Speaking of skills, make sure you practice yours in a safe environment. If you’ve never owned a motorcycle before, consider starting in a parking lot and working your way to low-traffic streets before opening up your cycle on a highway. It may feel overly cautious, and you may be eager to see what your bike can do on the open road right away, but the more time you spend developing your skills, the better you’re going to be.
Even experienced riders aren’t exempt from the increased risks that motorcyclists face. Make sure you take these risks seriously and do everything you can to limit or eliminate these risks in your own life. Oftentimes, these simple steps don’t cost much money or take much time, so you have no excuse not to incorporate them into your riding.