10 Things Never To Do on a Motorcycle
Whether it’s a hobby, a passion or both, motorcycle riding requires skill, focus and awareness. But like any other high-risk activity, there are things to do and not to do.
Here we focus on things NOT TO DO when riding a motorcycle. There’s a whole laundry list of things you shouldn’t do when riding a motorcycle, but we’ll keep this list down to ten entries and maybe do another one later on with ten more. In the meantime, here are our picks for the top 10 things not to do on a motorcycle.
1. Ride Beyond Your Limits
We covered this common sense entry in our tips for beginner motorcycle riders article, and we’re putting it at the top of this list because it’s an all too common mistake that gets endlessly repeated. Stick to routes and situations you know you can handle. Know your limits and ride within them. Learn from more experienced riders, but don’t try to keep up with anybody’s pace except your own, especially when turning corners and riding in bad weather.
2. Try to Show Off
We’re not kids anymore, trying tricks on our bicycles to impress our pals. Seriously, quit showing off for your friends and love/lust interests. Popping wheelies, making donuts and racing at ridiculous speeds doesn’t impress anyone who truly cares about your safety. You can look cool on a motorcycle without trying to be a stunt performer. Leave that to the pros who get paid to do stunt work. While we admire your confidence, if you’re going to show off, do it at the track, not on the street.
3. Get Intoxicated
As the first entry on this list proved, we’re not beyond stating the obvious and repeating an item from another list, and that includes drinking and riding. Drinking can be fun, and so can riding a motorcycle. But together? … We’ll spare you the PSA. Just remember drinking and/or getting high severely impairs your concentration and reaction time, which is lethal for motorcycle riding. It’s not our place to tell you not to drink or do drugs, but just use common sense and don’t mix either with riding. And stay well fed and hydrated, just don’t “hydrate” with alcohol or “high-drate” with … you get the point. Moving on.
4. Disobey Traffic Laws
First of all, don’t run from the cops if you break a traffic law. With that said, don’t break any traffic laws and the cops won’t chase you. Always drive with a valid license and with current insurance. If you get pulled over, be calm, cool and above all, respectful. Riding a motorcycle doesn’t exempt you from traffic laws, nor does it give you free reign to drive recklessly. Be respectful of other motorists too, for your safety and theirs. Too many motorcycle riders out there are driving like [expletive] and giving the rest of us a bad name. Don’t be that guy (or girl)! Obeying traffic laws also keeps your insurance rates manageable, and keeps the cops (and lawyers) away.
5. Ride Distracted
You know you look badass while riding your motorcycle, so why check yourself out in reflections? Keep your eyes on the road, rock star. And while you’re at it, resist the temptation to scope out the eye candy around you, or else you could end up checking out the wrong kind of rear end. Keep your head up, watch where you’re going and don’t look down. Stay focused and alert, and don’t become too fixated on anything around you. And for goodness sake don’t take selfies while you’re riding!
6. Ride Sleepy or Tired
We can’t reiterate enough the importance of reaction time and awareness when riding a motorcycle. Stats change, so we don’t use them much around here, but we invite you to do your own research on stats about motorcycle accidents caused by drowsiness as well as by intoxication. Simply put, read the stats and don’t become one! If you partied too hard the night before and didn’t get much sleep, or you had a trying day at work or you’re simply exhausted, don’t ride. Consider hitching a ride with a friend, family member or the now ubiquitous rideshare service and live to ride another day.
Don’t ride up on somebody’s tail to goad them into going faster. It’s dangerous enough in a car and even more so on a motorcycle, especially if the person you’re tailgating decides to slow down or brake abruptly to teach you a lesson. Give yourself enough space between your bike and vehicles in front of you to react, or else you could end up eating a car’s rear windshield. And if someone is tailgating you, don’t stoop to their level by taunting them and slowing down. Let the [expletive] pass. Don’t do what’s known as brake checking, which is basically a game of chicken. You’re pretty much guaranteed to lose.
8. Ride With Bad Tires
If the tread on your motorcycle’s tires looks even remotely like it’s balding, change the tires out. Low tread means loss of traction, which is potentially deadly when braking over water, gravel or even an oil slick. Do a tire check for tread wear and pressure as part of a full pre- and post-ride bike inspection. Aside from tires going bald, brake pads wear out, and a whole plethora of other mechanical hazards can develop after each ride, so never skip inspecting your bike, especially the tires.
9. Lend Your Bike Out
This isn’t so much what not to do on a motorcycle as it is with a motorcycle, but don’t lend your bike out to anyone. It’s not like letting somebody borrow your car. Common knowledge tells us riding a car is much safer than a motorcycle, and most people with a driver’s license can handle a car. But a motorcycle? Let’s just say if someone crashes your bike, you’ll be responsible for the consequences as you would be with a car. However, your insurance company — not to mention friends and family — may not be as forgiving if something tragic happens because you let somebody else ride your motorcycle. No matter how close you are with a relative, friend or lover who wants to borrow your bike, it’s not worth the risk.
10. Ride Angry
Anger makes it easy to lose focus and use poor judgement, which increases the chances of getting in a motorcycle wreck. Don’t let road rage get the best of you! If some careless [expletive] cuts you off, don’t lose your cool. Stay calm and focused, and pull over to the side if you need to cool down. Dealing with careless drivers on a regular basis comes with the territory of motorcycle riding, and you’re going to have to get used to it. If you’re simply having a bad day or something else is pissing you off and motorcycle riding is therapeutic for you, don’t ride in traffic. De-stress on a trail or a track where your ire won’t affect others and others won’t affect you.