Riding Tips

 

“A key element for a good rider would be to have the desire and motivation to choose to reduce risk while riding…A fundamental trait of all good riders is that they have a strategy, a way of thinking and planning to avoid trouble.”

-Motorcycle Safety Foundation

 

Key Points to Safe Riding

1. Assume you are invisible to other drivers.

Don’t ever assume another driver knows you’re there. Adhere to the attitude that no one else on the road is concerned with your personal safety. Learn to use a riding strategy like SEE (Search, Evaluate, Execute) to manage the roadway and traffic. You can learn to SEE in a basic or advanced training course. 

2. Look where you want to go.

It’s called visual directional control. Keep your head and eyes looking 3–4 seconds ahead of you when cornering. You can get instruction and practice in this technique in a basic or advanced rider training course. In an emergency, do not stare at the guardrail, the gravel shoulder or the oncoming car—chances are, you’ll hit whatever you’re trying to avoid (this is called target fixation).

3. Use both brakes.

The best way to achieve maximum braking is to apply both brakes fully without locking either wheel. Simultaneously squeeze the front brake lever and apply the rear brake pedal.

Your front brake provides 70 percent or more of your stopping power in an emergency. Squeeze—do not grab—the front brake, and keep squeezing, increasing the squeezing pressure until you’ve slowed sufficiently or stopped.

Untrained riders are often afraid to use the front brake, for fear of flipping over. Trained riders know better. You can learn how to use your front brake for maximum braking in a basic or advanced training course.

4. Never stop riding the bike.

Don’t ever give up control of your motorcycle. “Laying it down” is not a strategy. Some motorcycle brakes used to be so bad that practicing how to lay down your bike was part of learning how to ride. Today, motorcycles have anti-lock brakes, and the tires have much better traction. The ability to properly apply maximum braking power can help you avoid collisions.

The person with the most control of any situation is you. Look where you want to go; countersteer or use maximum braking to avoid a crash. You can get instruction and practice in all these techniques by taking a basic or advanced training course.

5. Lane Use

You can use your position in a traffic lane to help other drivers see you while maintaining safety and control of the traffic situation. Motorcycles have significant room to maneuver while riding within a traffic lane. Position yourself properly within a lane to help you see and avoid roadway hazards and help you create and maintain a space cushion between yourself and other traffic. Don’t hide among other vehicles. A well-thought-out lane position strategy can greatly increase your safety, particularly in traffic.

6. Be Seen—Go High Viz

On a motorcycle, you are smaller than other vehicles and therefore difficult to see. You need to do everything possible to help drivers see you. Take control of the situation and make yourself as highly visible as possible. Motorcyclists who are easily seen are in fewer crashes.

TIPS TO STAND OUT IN TRAFFIC

  • Wear a fluorescent, reflective safety vest or brightly colored riding jacket—high viz yellow is the new black!
  • Wear a white or brightly colored helmet
  • Use a strategic lane position.
  • Incorporate reflective materials.
  • Install auxiliary driving lights.
  • Avoid riding at night, dawn and dusk.
  • Avoid riding when the sun is at a low angle.
  • Avoid riding in poor weather.

7. Fear the Deer

Deer, other wildlife and free-ranging domestic animals pose a significant threat to motorcycle riders in Utah.

Deer often unpredictably cross roads. There’s also a lot of open range area where cattle and sheep (and their associated pies) roam freely, including across roads.

For tips on avoiding negative encounters with Utah’s wildlife and domestic stock, visit watchfordeerutah.com.

8. Riding with a Passenger

Carrying a passenger can affect the way a motorcycle handles. The MSF has great info about passengers and cargo here.

9. Group Riding

Group rides can be a great way to interact with other motorcycle riding enthusiasts, but they can also pose some challenges. For information about safe group riding, click here.