Cruising around on a motorcycle provides a sense of thrill, freedom and adventure that just cannot be matched by a car, no matter what kind. All of this comes with a price, however, as motorcycles can be dangerous—riding them requires skill, quick-thinking and even quicker reflexes; motorcycle riders are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than passengers in a car. If you are new to the game, it is important to respect the power of these vehicles, be humble and realize that accidents can happen to you too. Here are some important tips for the first-time rider.
In some states, this may not be an option, but if you are not required to take a safety course as a condition of receiving a motorcycle license, it would behoove you to do so. These classes will give you a solid foundation of knowledge to ride safely. You’ll learn all about traffic safety laws, how to respond to emergency situations, maintenance and how to avoid dangerous situations. You will also have an opportunity to practice important skills in a controlled environment under expert supervision. You may even qualify for insurance discounts and receive credit towards the purchase of a bike from a motorcycle manufacturer.
Our good old egos can get us into trouble, and when it comes to buying your first bike, it can get you into real trouble if you choose one that you think you can handle, but really can’t. First off, the bike should be a good fit for you—if you can’t put your feet flat on the ground when sitting on it, it is too big; handlebars and controls should be within easy reach. The bike should not be so heavy that you have trouble getting it on and off the center stand.
Anti-lock brakes are becoming a more common feature on a range of motorcycles, but they are still not standard. But, if you are interested in creating a safer riding experience, consider only bikes that have them. Research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that bikes with ABS brakes were 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash. Many high-end bikes include them, while you would only need to pay a few hundred dollars more for this feature on a basic bike. Insurance discounts for this safety feature may offset these costs somewhat.
Sure, the wind moving through your hair and hitting your face feels great; wearing a helmet does not quite produce the same effect. But, if you are going without, you are putting yourself at serious risk for serious, or even deadly injuries. Riders who forgo helmets are 40 percent more likely to die from a head injury and three times more likely to suffer brain injuries. Look for full-face helmets approved by the Department of Transportation.
Research on collisions between cars and motorcycles have found cars to be at fault 60 percent of the time; driving defensively is always important no matter what vehicle you are driving, but this research suggests it is particularly important when driving a motorcycle, which is not as easily seen as a car. In a time when texting and talking on the phone is increasingly contributing to accidents, it is even more important than before.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about a variety of auto topics. If you are in need of motorcycle insurance, she recommends visiting kanetix.com for quote comparisons.
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