Sun, long winding roads, and endless summer days; after every winter, Canadians patiently await the arrival of motorcycle season and these idyllic days for riding. Before jumping on the bike though, let's take a look at some tips that will help to keep you safe, while you enjoy the beautiful landscape of this great country of ours.
Safe riding - beginners and experienced riders alike!
After a long winter, your riding skills are probably a bit rusty and a refresher isn't a bad idea-for everyone-new and experienced riders alike. This is especially important considering that 234 motorcyclists died in Canada in 2005, according to Transport Canada. So with safety on the mind then, one of the best ways to stay safe is to take a rider training course-courses are available for all levels; beginners, intermediate and experienced riders with many years of riding under their belt. One such example, is a program called "Gearing Up". This rider program is recognized by the motorcycle industry, federal and provincial governments, insurers and private organizations across Canada. Since 1974, people from across the country have learned how to ride, and maintain their rider skills, through this Canada Safety Council program. Here are some other important tips to help you get ready, and keep you safe.
Safe riding tips for motorcyclists
- Before every ride, check to make sure the bike is in top condition
Remember the T-CLOCS pre-ride inspection (for a full article on the T-CLOCS inspection list, check out the Kanetix article, "Ready to ride! Spring check up tips for your motorcycle".)
- Tires and Wheels: Check your air pressure, tread, spokes, bearings and brakes. Look for no cracks or damage of any kind.
- Controls: Check levers, switches, cables, hoses and the throttle.
- Lights and Electrics: Check that lights and electric switches are in working condition.
- Oil and Other Fluids: Check oil, coolant, hydraulic fluid and all fuel levels. Don't forget to look for leaks.
- Chassis: Check the suspension and drive components. Adjust for any passenger or load. Your owner's manual will list the suspension setting for your motorcycle.
- Sidestand: Check the tension spring.
- Always wear protection
Helmets save lives so make sure you strap one on, before you hit the road. Make sure it is a noticeable colour, and maybe add some reflective tape to the sides and the back for greater visibility. If your helmet is damaged, or has already been involved in a collision, throw it away and get a new one. Don't forget about your clothing. Protective clothing can protect you from weather and debris while driving and can also serve as a buffer if in a crash. Even in hot weather, wear gloves, boots, long pants and a jacket specifically designed for motorcycling.
- Be noticeable
Many motorcycle accidents happen because car drivers did not see the motorcyclist. So consider wearing bright or fluorescent clothing, light or white coloured helmets, and using daytime headlights while riding. A motorcycle has a smaller profile than a car or truck, so take extra measures to ensure that others know you're there. Also, make sure you drive defensively, keep aware of potential blind spots, and adjust your driving according to the weather conditions.
- Keep your eyes on the road
Look well down the road at where you're going. Watch for upcoming traffic, curves in the road, bumps, garbage, potholes, cracks, stones, spills, and puddles.
- Roads of hazard
While most riders recognize that roads and bridges become more hazardous when wet and take due caution, it's also important to note that different road surfaces present their own set of unique hazards - it is important to adjust your driving to the type of surface you are rolling on:
- Asphalt - Thanks to cold winters, asphalt can buckle or heave with frost, or break up to cause some serious potholes. Additionally, ruts in the road can make it difficult to steer, as can wet asphalt which can be slippery.
- Painted Lines - Avoid riding on painted lines, especially when braking or turning. In dry conditions, the paint offers you less traction than the road, and in wet conditions can be quite slippery.
- Cement - This surface is typically less slippery than asphalt, but it still has its own challenges. Cement roads are made with grooves to drain water, usually off to the side. However, sometimest these run-off groves can be difficult to steer in if they are running with the direction of your travel. Also, cement roads are poured in sections which can heave up or down relative to other sections. Be careful when steering across uneven sections of cement.
- Drive defensively
Some quick sound bites for driving defensively:
- Carry the owner's manual and recommended tools and spare parts on your motorcycle.
- Maintain a safe speed that is consistent with the driving conditions and your skills.
- Assume other drivers don't see you and position yourself to be seen. Ride in the portion of the lane where you'll most likely be seen and avoid a vehicle's blind spot.
- Be especially alert at intersections because that's where most accidents occur.
- If changing lanes, check your mirrors, signal and make a visual check first.
- Don't tailgate and pass only when it is safe to do so. Do not pass or ride on the shoulder.
For more motorcycle rider and riding tips check out the Kanetix article titled, "Top tips for Canadian motorcycle riders".
Now that you have a good idea of how to prepare your bike for the road and some of the what to do when you get there, why not take a look to see if you can save some money on your motorcycle insurance? Kanetix.ca can help you shop for the best quotes from Canada's top insurance companies. Click here to get started - motorcycle insurance.