Riding a motorcycle requires more focus, attention, and yes, skill, than driving a passenger vehicle. Although driving cars, trucks, and SUVs also requires experience and skill to do so safely, passenger vehicles are firmly planted on the ground and are in no danger of tipping over (in most situations).
But motorcycles must be constantly kept upright by their riders, whether they’re being driven on flat ground or through tight turns. In addition, all motorcycles have manual transmissions, which adds another layer of complexity to riding them.
If you ride a motorcycle or are thinking of picking one up, make mastering these skills your priority either with an experienced rider or by taking a local motorcycle safety course.
Riding With the Flow of Traffic
Even budget motorcycles have far more torque and horsepower for their weight compared to most passenger vehicles. That makes it easy for motorcyclists to quickly reach and exceed interstate speed limits.
And while this level of instant acceleration can be handy when merging onto a busy highway, it can also get riders in trouble if they aren’t careful and experienced. Maintaining the same speed, acceleration, and braking distance as nearby vehicles will make riders’ movements more predictable to other drivers and thus make them less likely to be involved in collisions.
Safely Stopping on a Dime
Just as motorcycles can accelerate to highway speeds in just a few seconds, they can also stop almost instantly compared to passenger vehicles. This ability is extremely useful, and almost all riders will need to put their bikes’ brakes to the test at some point during their riding days.
But safely coming to a stop while traveling at high speed isn’t as simple as squeezing your brakes as hard as you can. You need to know exactly how your bike responds to different levels of pressure on your brakes, as well as the right balance of using your front and rear brakes together to slow down or stop while still maintaining control over your motorcycle.
The safest speed for a motorcycle is on a bell curve. If you go too fast, you’re highly likely to lose control and crash. And if you go too slow, you’re also more likely to lose control of your bike than if you travel at moderate speeds or the posted speed limit.
And while you shouldn’t spend all your time riding at speeds well over the speed limit, you SHOULD learn how to safely ride at slow speeds. Riding at these speeds is common in heavy traffic, when passing through work zones, or while navigating through a parking lot. Sometimes, it even involves putting your feet down on the pavement and “walking” your bike, which requires practice.
If you can drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, you’ll have a leg up when it comes to learning how to shift gears on a motorcycle. However, the two aren’t 100% compatible, and you’ll still need plenty of practice to adjust to shifting smoothly while riding on two wheels.
Even experienced riders may still need more time and deliberate practice shifting in a variety of scenarios and traffic conditions. Shifting should come naturally and without much deliberate thought. When you have to devote too much focus to shifting gears, you have less mental energy to devote to the presence of other drivers and potential obstacles in the road.
Handling Wet Roads
Even if you do your best to avoid riding when rain is in the forecast, you may still get caught in a sudden afternoon shower when you’re miles away from home. Wet roads change many aspects of riding. They make it more difficult to slow down and stop, and rain or merely overcast skies also make you less visible to other drivers.
The best rule of thumb for riding in the rain or after a recent shower is to reduce your speed, avoid busy roads whenever possible, and don’t press on when conditions deteriorate. Find a dry spot such as a gas station to wait out the rain, and never try to ride through standing or moving water.
We’re Here When Negligent Drivers Injure Cautious Riders
As a motorcyclist, all you can do is decrease your chances of being involved or injured in a crash—never eliminate it. Wearing full protective gear, taking motorcycle safety courses, avoiding distractions, and riding only in favorable weather conditions can stack the odds of a safe ride in your favor, but all it takes is one negligent driver to change your life forever.
At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, our Oklahoma motorcycle accident attorneys know the challenges that injured riders face. Not only do they have big medical bills that they often can’t afford, but they’re also often too hurt to go back to work. That means no paychecks for the foreseeable future.
If you or someone you love was hurt by a negligent driver while riding, we want to help you get full compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.