How to safely ride a motorcycle

Riding safely; maintenance

Always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. If the helmet has no face shield, wear goggles too. Protect your body from abrasion in case of a spill by wearing a leather jacket, long pants, leather gloves, and boots. At night wear clothing with reflective strips.

Drive defensively;motorists often don’t see a motorcycle until it is too late. Even if you have the right-of-way at an intersection, slow down and be prepared to stop or swerve. Never weave in and out of traffic, and never pass a vehicle on the right. Look well ahead so that you can avoid sand patches, potholes, obstructions, and animals. Even a small animal can cause an accident.

Check your rear-view mirrors often, especially when you stop at an intersection. If you see a car approaching rapidly, tap the brakes repeatedly to make the brake light flicker. The front brake supplies most of a motorcyle’s stopping power; keep two fingers wrapped around the brake lever and be prepared to use it. Keep your foot resting lightly on the pedal that controls the rear brake.

Use the rear brake whenever you’re stopping; it will help prevent you from tumbling forward, especially if you have to make a fast stop. When entering or leaving a toll booth, brake gently or accelerate slowly. Leaking oil from cars accumulates there and can cause a skid. Oil and water is even more slippery, so be extra careful when it’s raining.

Preventive maintenance

Keep your motorcycle in good repair. Read the owner’s manual and follow all recommendations. Be sure that the tires have sufficient tread and are properly inflated. Maintain proper tension on the drive chain (see your owner’s manual) and check the engine-oil level whenever you refuel.

If you have hydraulic brakes, keep track of the brake-fluid level in both of the master cylinders. Inspect the machine regularly for loose fasteners, leaks, and other irregularities. Motorcycle safety courses are offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and other organizations. Ask your motorcycle dealer for details.