When planning a summer vacation, riding a motorcycle in sunny weather can be a great experience; but there are many things to prepare for if you’re planning a longer trip. Here are some tips on how to make your summer road trip as enjoyable (and safe) as possible.
How should you prepare for a motorcycle road trip?
It’s never too late to do a routine maintenance check-up for your motorcycle – especially if you’re planning on taking extended road trips over the summer. We recommend looking for signs of damages on:
- The frame for cracks
- The wiring (ensuring that it is not pinched or damaged)
- Tires and wheels
You should also monitor the fluid levels for the brakes and battery motor oil.
You can find a more thorough pre-ride checklist on our blog.
5 Motorcycle Safety Tips Every Rider Should Know
1. Be careful not to run out of fuel
Always keep an eye on the gas tank. Some motorcycles do not have a fuel gauge and motorcycles can have a much shorter range compared to cars.
Having the right tire pressure can also increase your driving range and help you reach the next stop (or gas station) safely. Speaking of safety, driving aggressively can dramatically reduce the distance you can ride. Having a passenger behind you can also reduce the range, because of the added weight.
2. Stop your motorcycle smoothly and safely
Make sure you use both your front and rear brakes when stopping. Many new motorcyclists will use the front brake out of fear for locking the wheel when using the rear brake only.
Downshifting (or engine braking) is also a best practice, as it will allow you to restart faster if you’re already in first gear (rather than in fifth or sixth). This process can also help prolong the life of your brake pads. Make sure you apply some throttle to match the speed of your engine with the speed of your transmission (also called rev-matching) if you are comfortable doing so. If you’re still unsure at this point, you can practice in a parking lot, before you take your bike out on the road.
Pay attention to where you put your foot (or feet) when stopping. Take notice of the road and see if it’s slippery or has debris, as this can hinder your ability to support the weight of your motorcycle
3. Wear the right riding gear
When it’s hot outside, many love to wear a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. But for a summer ride on a motorcycle, it’s safer to wear appropriate gear for better protection: jacket, gloves, pants, footwear and, of course, a (vented) helmet. You can even purchase a cooling vest, if you want to help keep sweat off your clothes when riding on a hot summer day.
During the summer, the sun can be quite hard on the eyes. Make sure you get a tinted visor or wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
4. Keep your distances
While riding, be sure to keep your distance from other vehicles, including other motorcycles. Pay attention to the vehicles in front, but also behind you, as some cars tend to tailgate motorcycles, which could be very dangerous if the rider must brake hard. The same applies to any lanes beside you, try to ensure there is room to maneuver in case of a problem on the road.
Pay attention to car and truck mirrors when passing parked vehicles as they can help you see if there is someone inside wanting to get out. The door can open when you least expect it!
5. Motorcycle passengers
Riding a motorcycle is a lot of fun, and it can be made even more fun if you have a passenger along for the ride. However, it can sometimes become a little stressful for the person driving, as extra precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of both riders.
Before inviting someone to be a passenger on your ride, be sure to assess your own comfort level with having someone on board.
If you’re a passenger on a motorcycle, you also have a responsibility to follow certain safety precautions during the ride. You should agree on signs to use when it’s too loud to talk, and how to help the driver (leaning with the driver during turns, for example).
Before you hit the road, also make sure your motorcycle insurance is up to date and provides you with the coverage you need. Contact your insurance company to review your policy and make changes.
You can also find additional road safety tips, if you’re planning on taking a ride on an ATV or going on a trip with your RV, on the Good Hands Blog.
Disclaimer: This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal or insurance advice.