If you are a motorcycle rider, you get to enjoy incredible features that four-wheeled drivers can’t. For one, you have better maneuverability during traffic jams. Repairs and maintenance are also easier and cheaper to handle than on cars.
Despite these advantages, motorcycles remain vulnerable to road accidents. Since you lack protection on all sides, you are at a greater risk of fatal injuries. For this reason, motorcycle riders like yourself should be extra attentive when it comes to safety, especially on a long trip that spans a day or more.
Making sure you are properly protected and learning how to maneuver your vehicle out of harm's way could decrease your chances of injury or death by a mile. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
1. Invest in a quality helmet
Helmets are proven to protect motorcycle riders from fatal injuries. While only three states (Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire) lack a helmet mandate, it doesn’t mean you should stop wearing one when passing through.
Helmets save lives, and it's important to pick one that's designed to reduce concussions, hematoma, and other traumatic brain injuries. When shopping around for a motorcycle helmet, make sure it's the right size. If you are opting for a half-face helmet, it has to have straps made from sturdy nylon or polypropylene. For the outer shell, choose either fiberglass or kevlar. Plastic is too brittle to withstand high-impact collisions.
It's also important to consider the UV visors that can protect your vision during clear daylight and offer a better view of the road while you are riding at night. Picking a quality helmet is the first step to safer riding, but it's not enough to help you steer clear of any dangers on the road.
2. Wear other protective gear
Apart from your head, it's also important to protect your whole body from injuries in case you're thrown across the ground after a high-impact collision.
Start by wearing body armor. Most motorcycle jackets you can find in the market today provide ample padding that reduces open wound injuries significantly. In case you are not a speedster, you can settle for a synthetic or mesh jacket.
Elbow pads, knee pads, and gloves seem like optional accessories, but they can help decrease your risk factor by a certain amount. Motorcycle gloves, for instance, allow you to firmly grip the handlebars on top of protecting your hands when you need to break your fall.
3. Be prepared for a night drive
If the trip requires that you ride non-stop, then you need to bring along night-riding gear in case you are planning to continue the journey overnight. Riding under the cover of darkness only increases the risk of accidents, so it’s important that you make yourself visible to other motorists and make sure you have a clear path ahead.
Even if you are an experienced rider, you still need to wear reflective clothing. For added visibility, install quality motorcycle underglow and reflective decals on your bike.
For the headlamps, invest in quality bulbs that are recommended in your state of origin and the state you are traveling to. Low beam headlights are recommended if there is still oncoming traffic during the first few hours after sundown. You can turn on your high beams only if you are riding on open roads.
Also, make sure you are not wearing a tinted visor. Use a clear one that’s cleaned on both sides. In case switching visors is too much of a hassle, you can always opt for a photochromic visor that darkens when exposed to UV light and clears up in the dark.
4. Make sure your bike is fit for the road
When was the last time you had your bike serviced? With the number of miles it has covered, your bike could use an oil and oil filter change before you go on another extended trip.
Most synthetic oils require changing every 3,000 or 5,000 miles. In any case, it will only take less than an hour to complete the process.
While you are at it, make sure your tires are properly inflated and your headlights and brakes are working. Taking time to check your bike’s condition before your journey helps ensure your safety.
5. Be a defensive rider and follow the rules
Considering how vulnerable you are to potential dangers on the road, it matters more to focus on your immediate environment and apply defensive driving strategies.
Following the speed limit and taking motorcycle lanes are basic rules, but obeying them is what separates you from a road disaster that’s waiting to happen. However, some drivers may cause undue harm to you and others with their negligence, in which case you can file a claim against them in court.
As a motorcycle rider, the need for extra safety should be of greater importance the farther you go. Before heading out on a cross-country road trip, consider these tips to keep your life and limb protected.