There are few experiences quite like getting a new motorcycle. The child-like glee and excitement surrounding all the possibilities and fun you are going to have with it swirl through the mind. "Will I get a new exhaust? Where should I ride to first?" These are just some of the thoughts of a new motorcyclist.
Although this is an exciting and new undertaking, new riders frequently make rookie-level mistakes that can put themselves, their bikes, and other motorists at risk. Whether it be wearing poor riding gear or testing the limits of the bike on public roads, said amateur riders are bound to commit at least one. With this in mind, here are ten mistakes that just about every new motorcyclist makes.
When you first begin riding, the turn signal may seem pointless for such a small vehicle. However, it is still very important in daily traffic and ensuring the safety of the rider. If you neglect your responsibility to signal when you are changing lanes, you can be held accountable in the same fashion 4-wheeled drivers are.
Not only does it risk individual safety and well-being, but those around you as well. There is a reason why bikes need these to be on the road, so use them.
This particular issue boils down to either laziness or forgetfulness. Each is fairly excusable under normal circumstances, but leaving the kickstand down can cause some damage. Having the stand down limits the rider's ability to properly shift and, as a result, could result in a crash.
Leaving the kickstand down could also wear away at the metal if exposed to the ground for a prolonged period of time and (again) could result in an easily avoidable accident.
A lot of bikes on the market (Excluding some Hondas and high-end motorcycles) do not give detailed mileage readings on fuel. Rather, they simply display a classic style gauge showing non-specific increments like a quarter or a half of a tank.
Improper understanding of your bike's fuel level could lead to refilling when there's still plenty of gas, or worse, like running out of gas on a busy highway. It's better to be safe than sorry, though, so make sure you don't lose track.
Learning to ride a bike is difficult enough, and taking on a passenger certainly doesn't help the matter. Too many times inexperienced riders will want to show off their 'shiny new toy' to everyone and offer rides when they themselves still have some learning to do.
The problem can be easily remedied, though. Just build a firm basis and understanding of both the bike and your own capabilities before attempting to have a passenger join along.
This is arguably one of the worst and most dangerous things any rider can do, regardless of their level of experience or knowledge. Buying cheap gear or simply wearing none at all won't affect traffic around you, but it will definitely risk the rider's own safety.
Some fatal crashes could have been avoided if the rider had been wearing the proper gear and maintaining a safe speed, so it is best to consider putting on something that will ensure you can return to ride again.
Clumsiness and accidents plague everyone. Sometimes, they manifest in mistakes like forgetting to downshift. On a bike, it's especially easy to do. That being said, it's nearly the same case for every manual transmission vehicle in the beginning.
When you pull in the clutch and coast to a stop, changing gears can slip the mind easily. Doing so can cause transmission issues (if done frequently enough) and even lead to the next mistake: Stalling.
As mentioned previously, failing to properly change gears (whether it be going up or down) can lead to stalling. This is a mistake that plagues even the most experienced riders along with the newbies.
Stalling doesn't really effect the health of the motorcycle, but can significantly embarrass the rider who releases the clutch too early. With this fault comes traffic issues too, since a stalled bike sitting at a red light will surely result in some unhappy motorists. The best way to avoid this inevitability is to practice "stop and go" techniques and try not to get overwhelmed at a busy intersection.
With the purchase of a new bike comes a degree of unwarranted confidence. When a new rider first acquires their motorcycle, it can be very tempting to bypass traffic and slip between lanes to get to the destination faster.
However, this is illegal in many states (exceptions include California). Not only that, but it puts the rider and other drivers at great risk. All that needs to happen is a fast lane change or an unaware driver merging the wrong direction ever so slightly and the rider could have their life cut short.
Similar to lane splitting, not leaving enough room may not seem like as big of an issue as it really is. Learning the dimensions of your latest bike can be hard, especially when navigating through heavy congestion.
Not leaving the proper amount of space between yourself and fellow drivers can result in some unwanted circumstances. Specifically, dings in the paint, scratches, falls, or even a serious crash.
This mistake is by far the most tempting and deadly one that can be committed. Purchasing a brand new motorcycle is certainly thrilling due to its challenging nature and high-speed capabilities, although these same things end up being the death of a significant number of riders.
Testing the limits of your bike is best reserved for race tracks and fully-kitted-out riders who have experience and skill, not rookies who want an adrenaline rush. Always keep an eye on your throttle inputs and speedometer or risk becoming another statistic.