A Checklist for new riders before taking off
Opening the throttle and working through the gears is probably all you’re thinking of when the keys to your new motorcycle are finally handed to you. But, before you hit the asphalt and test your new wheels, here’s a C.H.E.C.K.L.I.S.T. that will give you the know-how of a seasoned rider.
Easy to take for granted as the most obvious piece of necessary equipment but also the most overlooked motorcycle accessory is the cell phone. Hopefully, your cell phone is always with you, but there are other uses than just emergencies that a cell phone will come in handy when riding. More and more, riders are using Bluetooth-enabled helmets for music, GPS, and communication. Even if you don’t have Siri in your helmet, a smartphone will help you with emergency services, directions, and apps to make your riding safer and more enjoyable. So, make sure you have your phone charged, waterproofed, and stowed away – using your phone while riding is not a safe choice.
There will be times that you want to make sure other motorists see you or perhaps you are too close to other vehicles for them to see your turn signals and you’ll need to use the proper hand signals to relay to the other drivers what you’re going to do. Familiarize yourself with the proper hand signals for turning and stopping.
Not the Hollywood kind, but the small personal effects that you carry with you on your bike can become a distraction if not secured. Leaving them in your pocket could result in them flying out at high speeds. For peace of mind, attach a little carrying case somewhere on your bike to hold keys, wallet, phone, gloves, and any other small personal items you don’t want to lose while riding. A fork bag is an unobtrusive solution.
Case of Accident
The last thing on your mind might be the possibility of being in a wreck, however, it must be considered. As far as resources go for knowing what to do in case of an accident, the free Law Tigers App is the best tool for you and your riding partners to get familiar with now in the event you find yourself in one. The App guides users step-by-step through a motorcycle accident report form gathering all the necessary information, taking pictures, witness info, and even provides GPS coordinates of the location of the accident. You can contact them directly through the app and submit the accident report immediately by email. Accidents happen and you should be prepared.
If you have the space in your carrying case it’s a good idea to carry a small tool kit and flares. If you find yourself on the side of the road with mechanical issues, you’ll want to increase your visibility to oncoming motorists.
Something to get in the habit of is regularly checking your turn signals, brake light, and headlamp. The #1 response of motorists who are involved in accidents with motorcycles is that they didn’t see them. You want to make sure you are as visible to the other motorists as much as possible.
Insurance and Registration
Look closely at a seasoned rider’s bike and you’ll most likely find a plastic envelope that looks like a Ziploc bag that’s attached under the seat or the frame, or a small cylinder attached somewhere discreetly. In this document holder, you’ll find their insurance and registration documents. However you do it, waterproofing your documentation is a must for easy access and protection. You can be as fancy as an aluminum cylinder or as frugal as a plastic envelope velcroed under the seat. Find a Law Tigers tent at a motorcycle event near you for a free one, Macgyver-it, or Check eBay for options.
Hopefully, you have already chosen a ride that matches your ability and physical skill. But in many cases, the seat height could be adjusted to provide a better riding experience. For most riders, when stopped your knees should be bent slightly with both feet resting flat on the ground. This allows for safe and comfortable take-offs and stops. You can find aftermarket seats that adjust the height or suspension modifications to achieve a comfortable and safe position for you.
Apart from driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents is poor tire maintenance. Motorcycle tires are different than car tires; they wear faster and need more frequent inflation checks. Temperature changes affect tire pressure, so make it a point to check the pressure when going through different climates and seasons. Always check when the tires are cold. The maximum pressure on the sidewall is not the recommended pressure for normal conditions; check your bike’s recommended pressure online or on the chain guard sticker. In your carrying case, you should include a tire pressure gauge and you should get in the habit of checking the pressure at least once a month. The tread of the tire is important – you might have ok tread on the outside but maybe the center where the tire is always in contact with the road is too low which could cause loss of control in wet conditions or oil slicks.
When you’ve successfully gone through this C.H.E.C.K.L.I.S.T you’re ready to kick some asphalt and experience the freedom of the open road.
Safe riding, we’ll see you out there!
Need a motorcycle injury lawyer? Call 1-800-Law Tigers
The author, Joel Martin, is an avid motorcycle rider and enthusiast who serves as the Online Marketing Manager for Law Tigers.