Buying a motorcycle for the first time can be an exhilarating experience for new riders. Unfortunately, during the first month of that exciting purchase, motorcycle riders are four times more likely to get into an accident. According to the Insurance Journal, 22 percent of claims for motorcycle accidents happen within the first 30 days of purchasing a policy.
So, how can new motorcycle riders keep themselves safe and claim-free? Check out some of these safety tips recommended by Consumer Reports.
1. Don’t Buy a Bike You Can’t Handle
While it may be thrilling to own a high-performance bike like a Ducati, if you are a first-time rider with very little experience on the road, you could seriously hurt yourself with that much power. A bike with an engine in the 250 to 300 cc range is perfect for beginners looking for a commuter bike.
2. Opt for Anti-Lock Brakes
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motorcycles with anti-lock brakes are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal accident. When brakes lock during an emergency stop they limit the rider’s ability to steer. They also increase the likelihood of skidding, which can cause a crash and serious injury, especially during slippery road conditions. On most motorcycles, adding anti-lock brakes only costs a few hundred dollars, which may be easily recouped in insurance discounts for having a bike equipped with this safety feature.
3. Take a Riding Course
One of the best ways to learn the basics of safe riding is to participate in a motorcycle training program. Gearing Up is Canada’s national program, which is widely recognized by insurance companies who offer premium discounts to riders who complete the program. To find a course, visit ridertraining.org/gearing-up
4. Buy a Good Helmet
Riding without a helmet increases your risk of suffering a fatal head injury by 40 percent. Don’t chance it. For maximum protection, look for a full-face helmet that has an approval sticker showing it has been rated and approved by the Department of Transportation at least.
5. Invest in Other Protective Riding Gear
Riding a motorcycle in shorts and sandals may seem fun and carefree, but if an accident occurs, you are in for a world of hurt. Even during summer, your best bet is to wear full-length pants, a reinforced jacket, riding gloves, and shoes that cover your ankles. Because of the thick protection it provides, leather is a smart option for riders year-round. If your helmet does not have a visor, you should also wear goggles to keep your eyes protected while on the road.
6. Practice Defensive Driving
Car drivers are at fault 60 percent of the time in accidents involving motorcycles according to a recent university study. That means riders need to be alert for distracted drivers. In particular, be on the lookout for cars that change lanes suddenly. Also, keep a safe distance from other vehicles so you have adequate time and space to respond obstructions in the road. What one car can easily roll over could be a serious problem for a motorcycle.
7. Don’t Ride in Bad Weather
Riding in the rain not only limits your visibility, but it also reduces the performance of your tires which can make stopping suddenly a tricky proposition. If you must ride in the rain, remember the roads are slickest when it first begins to rain since the water activates oil residue. That means you need to be gentle when braking. Also be more cautious with the throttle and steering.