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10 Worst Motorcycle Rider Mistakes Beginners Make

10 Worst Motorcycle Rider Mistakes Beginners Make

Congratulations! You just got your motorcycle learner's permit. So, what happens now? Do you take a class to learn to ride? Do you start bike shopping? There is so much excitement right now, and you probably haven't figured out exactly what your next step is.

We are going cut to the chase for this article. There are mistakes that every beginner makes when they first begin riding a motorcycle. Sadly, veteran riders often make these rookie mistakes, too – nobody is safe from being motorcycle-naïve.

What are the mistakes we are talking about, and how can you avoid them?

Mistake #1: Lessons are for losers

Even if you have had decent exposure to motorcycles in the past, that doesn't mean that you are immune from making mistakes. It's always a good idea to take a beginner's motorcycle class and safety course. Not only do you become more knowledgeable about driving your motorcycle, but you may end up with a discount on your insurance.

What You Can Expect From Your Class

A class is not something to be intimidated by. Depending on the type of class you are taking, it may be in one day, or the instructor may spread it out over a couple of days. Check the information for the class before you go so that you can coordinate your schedule with it. You might also benefit from seeing if the course requires any prerequisites like studying a motorcycle rider's handbook beforehand.

Your class should have a classroom portion and a road skills portion. After all, what good is a motorcycle class if you don't get on your motorcycle? The road skills portion prepares you for your driving test and makes sure you are road-ready.

All of the skills you will encounter will be tested by the local DMV. Expect to learn to brake, accelerating, shifting gears, navigating around objects, U-turns, and changing lanes. During your class, you will know if you chose the right motorcycle. Some participants end up having to purchase a lighter-style bike.

The Benefits of Taking a Motorcycle Safety and Riding Class

Just like any test, the more you study for it, the better you will do. You didn't just go to the DMV and get in a car and get your license handed to you – you practiced. The same should apply to anything you plan on taking out on the open road. The goal is to provide the utmost safety for yourself, your passengers, and others on the road.

When you take a class, the instructor guides you and provides feedback, teaching you how to improve your skills. Their job is to make sure you understand the written material and the necessary skills to drive on the roadway. Since each state has different licensing requirements, you may be required to take motorcycle riding classes.

Some insurance companies favor customers who take a safety class, providing discounts for it. So, there isn't a reason why you shouldn't want to be safe.

Mistake #2: Riding in shorts and sandals

When you choose to get on a motorcycle, a priority should be to wear clothing and gear to keep you protected. Some states and provinces have their requirements for riding motorcycles, such as helmets, face shields, and eye protection. Sure, being bogged down with safety equipment isn't exactly the most stylish statement, but it is an important one.

You have seen those motorcycle riders on the road. You know the ones we are talking about – short shorts, tank tops, and flip flops, riding on the back like nothing can stop them. The asphalt can stop them, and if they end up with road rash, it could be a deadly situation.

Leather is a stereotypical biker characteristic, but in reality, it is a safety measure. Wearing leather over the clothing adds an extra (durable) layer that protects the skin during an accident. Think about the beating that leather boots take, and they last for years! Most leather apparel for bikers is made to be easily removed, so even if you only wear it while riding, you minimize the risk of injury.
If it's too hot for proper riding gear, then perhaps it's too hot to ride!

Mistake #3: Riding like you're driving a car

Riding a motorcycle is not the same as driving a car. No, it's not. The only similarity is that both car drivers and motorcycle riders have to follow the same set of traffic laws. You are much more vulnerable on the road and much more invisible. Most drivers expect to see another car in their mirrors or when they shoulder-check. Your level of awareness needs to be tenfold, and you need to double, triple and quadruple check all ways before entering an intersection, leaving a parking lot, etc.

Without the safety of a passenger cage, you always have to assume people don't see you; and even if you know you had the right way, a car is heavier and can cause a lot of damage to you than the other way around.

Mistake #4: Going too fast into a turn

Typically, one of two things will happen:

  1. You go into the curve too fast, slide off the road and crashes into something, or
  2. You brake hard, locking the wheel and slide off the road, and crash

Either way, you slide off and crash. Until you learn the cornering limits of your motorcycle, slow down for turns. If you find that you can't make the turn at the speed and lean angle you started with, one thing you can do is lean the bike over a bit more and turn tighter. The key is to do it smoothly and gently.

Mistake #5: Using just one brake

Bikes today come with a front and rear brake. A front brake lever typically operates the front brake on the right handlebar grip and the rear brake controlled by your right foot. Typically, these brakes are applied together to get the total stopping power. For instance, using both brakes in conjunction will allow you to come to a smooth stop in a normal stop.

However, because most of us start as drivers, you are so used to the "one brake pedal" that you may end up relying on our rear brakes to stop. And because doing so only gives you a fraction of the stopping power, you slam harder on the rear brakes. Unfortunately, if you slam on the rear brake too hard, you can lock the tires and skid and end up with a low-side or even a high-side accident. In other words, it's going to hurt.

In case you've pressed the rear brake too hard, and you go into a skid - ride the skid out. Do not release it thinking your motorcycle will miraculously stop itself. Because you've locked the rear, you have lost the stopping power, and releasing the brake will cause the wheel to go from no momentum to too much, and you will get bucked out of the seat.

The same goes for the front brake, too. Do not hover your hands over the lever - you don't want to allow yourself to grab the lever suddenly and harshly in a panic situation.

Mistake #6: The Kickstand – Did You Forget About It?

The kickstand gets its section because this is where some riders get frustrated. It also gives everyone a little giggle because it can kill the engine quicker than any rider can. The kickstand is traditionally just a means of keeping the bike upright when it is not in use. Sometimes we don't think about the kickstand and take off, which could cause severe bike damage and a dangerous situation – if not for the safety feature built-in.

Imagine you have left the kickstand down and go around a curve. What would happen? You don't even want to imagine the repercussions. Well, you don't have to because most of the motorcycles on the market have a built-in feature that will kill the bike's engine when it engages with the kickstand down.

You don't have to get frustrated about this. Just put it up, laugh, and try again - this is something that has happened to just about every beginner at one time or another (or multiple times).

Mistake #7 - Tinted visor at night

Just as you wouldn't wear sunglasses when driving at night, riding with a tinted visor at night is not a good idea. Tinted visors are great for reducing glare and eye fatigue when riding in bright sunshine. But if you are going to be riding primarily at night, use a clear visor.

Alternatively, you can go to any hardware store and pick up a pair of clear safety glasses that look like the safety goggles at the high school science lab. Leave them under the seat so that if you get stuck riding at night with a tinted visor, all you to do is flip your lid up and put on the clear safety goggles. We have to admit that it's not going to make you look cool, but you can at least see the road clearly and get home safely.

Mistake #8 - Riding with bald tires

The other three tires can support a bad tire in a car at least long enough for the trip to the tire shop to get it fixed or replace. With motorcycles, riding with a worn tire can be fatal. While checking your tires is the most straightforward motorcycle maintenance task you can do, it's not sufficient to air them up - you need to take a close look at the overall condition.

Most tires have tread wear indicators located at the base of the main grooves and are equally spaced around the tire. You will see the tread wear indicators, which look like narrow strips of smooth rubber across the tread when that point of wear is reached.

Another easy way to check tread depth is to do the penny test. Take a penny and place it with Lincoln's head down in the tread groove. If none of Lincoln's head is covered by the tread, it's time to get new tires.

Why are tires so essential? Well, your safety relies on them. Tires not only provide traction for accelerating, braking, and turning, but they also serve as a part of the suspension - they absorb the impact of irregular road surfaces.

Mistake #9 - Riding under the influence

Another critical thing to mention when discussing motorcycle safety is the trend of drinking and driving. This trend isn't something that happens in automobiles. It happens on motorcycles too. Between drunk driving and drowsy driving, some of these accidents occur on the road every day.

Don't end up a statistic. After all, a motorcycle requires more skill and coordination to operate than a car.

Peer pressure is a real thing, but don't drink and then get on your motorcycle. You likely aren't going to be able to find a "designated driver" for your bike, so park it and rideshare if you drink.

Think driving after a joint is fine? Think again. The truth of the matter is, as long as you limit your drinking and your blood alcohol is under the legal limit, and you're not impaired, you're not breaking any laws. On the other hand, it is illegal to drive/ride when impaired by drugs - we're talking about license suspension, fines, criminal charges, and even jail time.

So while you might think that the impacts of marijuana are less detrimental than alcohol, you should avoid riding your motorcycle after consumption.

Mistake #10 - Riding on coffee and Redbull

Have you ever dozed off behind the wheel of the car, even for a split second? Imagine being on two wheels on the open road with nothing surrounding you for protection. Sitting on a motorcycle for long periods can cause you to zone out and get sleepy, especially with the wind noise.

The National Sleep Foundation has put out a set of warning signs for you to look for:

  • Difficulty focusing – blurry vision, frequent blinking, or that feeling of heavy eyelids
  • Daydreaming – your mind wanders, and your thoughts are disconnected
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven – you miss an exit or miss a traffic sign
  • Yawning repeatedly, or you feel like rubbing your eyes
  • Slouching – riding with bad body position or having a hard time keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
  • Feeling restless and irritable

It's a good idea to plan plenty of breaks throughout your ride, one every 1 to 2 hours would be good to get off your motorcycle, walk around, stretch, get the blood flowing again. It's also a good idea to avoid sugary drinks like soda and energy drinks as these can give you an initial boost but cause your energy level to plummet later in the day.

Take a break. Take a nap.

Enjoy Yourself, But Don't Get Carried Away

We get it. You are excited about your new motorcycle. You want to jump on it with all caution thrown into the wind. Reel it back in and get your head on straight before you jump on and end up face-first on the ground.

Your motorcycle is not like driving a car. We mean that there are no same safety features on your bike as there are inside your vehicle. There are no airbags, no steel cage surrounding your body, and no seatbelts.

One way to change the way you handle safety is by getting a motorcycle dash cam. Many people use these for safety purposes, but another way is to help yourself see what you need to work on while riding. You can also use a dash cam to assist in the event of an accident. If you are in an accident while riding a motorcycle, you might end up unable to explain your side right away. Let it tell your story.

At the end of the day, as a beginning motorcycle rider – you can always use the dash cam video to submit the next winning funniest video online!

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