Heading out on a long-distance ride? Use these motorcycle safety tips to guarantee a good time.
"You don't need a therapist if you own a motorcycle, any kind of motorcycle." - Dan Akroyd
Mr. Akroyd has a good point; it doesn't matter whether you're on a Harley Sportster or a Honda Rebel, there's nothing better than the open road. A trip to the office or a weekend jaunt to the lake is better on a bike. Now it's time for the next adventure: a long-distance ride.
Before you go, though, brush up on those old motorcycle safety tips because a few days on your bike is a lot different than 15 minutes back and forth to the gym.
10 Motorcycle Safety Tips to Make Sure You Come Back Home Feeling Like a Champ
1. Inspect your bike
Always take a look at your bike before hitting the road. You don't want to get 100 miles into a trip only to get stuck on the side of Highway 61. Check your oil, tire tread and air pressure, air filter, and chain, and make any necessary replacements.
2. Know the road; know your bike
As a practical matter, you'll want to have some experience on your bike before you head out on the highway looking for adventure. Are you comfortable with the draft from a tractor trailer at 70 mph? Can you and your bike handle a quick acceleration to avoid that car that doesn't want to see you? Do you have experience with evasive turning in case you're on a curvy country road when a car pulls out of a driveway right in front of you?
3. Rest regularly; take your time
An eight-hour drive in a car isn't bad. Eight hours on a bike is a lifetime for inexperienced riders. Plan to stop frequently to rest, stretch, and drink some water. Bring along some trail mix to keep your stomach happy, and do some calisthenics to keep your mind happy. Remember, the best part of a long-distance ride is just that: the ride.
4. Earplugs are essential
Hours of high-speed winds will damage your hearing. Furthermore, hour after hour of loud noise from the wind gets exhausting. You may decide not to wear earplugs, but at least they're an option if you have them with you, and they only cost a few bucks for several pairs.
5. Plan for every kind of weather
We all know that sunny forecast can turn to rain when we least expect it. Bring your rain gear even if you don't expect rain. Dry and tired is much better than wet and tired.
6. Gas up
This isn't so much a motorcycle safety tip as it is a tip for enjoying your ride. Especially on old two-lane highways, you never know if that gas station coming up in 40 miles will actually be open.
7. Dress appropriately
Yes, it gets a bit hot wearing riding gear, but that certainly beats leaving a few layers of skin on the road in the event of an accident. It might be worth adding that "dressing appropriately" also means wearing bright colors or reflective strips. Motorcycles are already difficult to see; wearing a safety vest or bright safety gear makes you more visible.
8. Stay alert
This is basic advice for riding, but it's especially important on long trips. It only takes a split second to space out and for something to go wrong. If you're feeling tired, take a break. Eat healthy snacks and meals, get plenty of sleep, and don't get distracted with rubbernecking.
9. Leave early
Give yourself plenty of daylight riding time. It's easier for you to see obstacles, and it's easier for other drivers to see you. Plus, if you're heading into a major city, you could get a couple hours of riding in and time your break for a rush hour breakfast, where you'll be the envy of everyone bustling about in a suit.
10. Have fun
You might argue that having fun shouldn't be in a list of motorcycle safety tips, and you might be right. However, stress and anxiety decrease our ability to function optimally. On a long ride, you need all the focus and attention you can get. Relax. Don't worry about the destination. Pay attention to what's around you. Stop at the weird roadside museum. Grab a drink at the small town lemonade stand. Meet some locals at the summer festival. That's the stuff stories are made of.
One last thing. Don't hop on that cruiser until you make sure your insurance is up to date.
Call your local Pekin Insurance agent to secure the best policy for your bike.