Motorcycling is fun, motorcycle is hot— and motorcycling is dangerous.
It’s right up there with sex, chocolate and rock ‘n’ roll—motorcycling’s a blast. It also carries hazards that could mean your death or dismemberment, tough guy. Though it’s impossible to completely eliminate every risk this pastime carries, there are ways you can help reduce the hazards if you’re a new rider.
Get licensed A bike is subject to the same laws a car is, and a regular driver’s license isn’t enough to legally ride; you need to obtain a class M rating on your license. Get pulled over without one and you’ll be towed. Log onto http://www.nysdmv.com and enter “motorcycle” in the search engine for more information on how to apply for a class M.
Wear full gear
In the event of even a minor spill, a biker and his or her bike will slide, and even a few feet of skidding on pavement will take the flesh right off your body. Ideally you should wear heavy-duty gear even if it’s warm, but at the very least, long jeans, denim and gloves are musts. And don’t forget the helmet—it’s the law in New York.
Watch for cars making a left turn
This is one of the most common causes of car-motorcycle clashes. If you’re approaching an intersection and see a car with its left directional on, pay very close attention and be prepared to stop or take evasive action as cars often misjudge both the distance and speed of motorcycles when turning in front of them, if they notice bikers at all.
Don’t tailgate It’s tempting to close every available inch of space between you and the guy in front of you, as car drivers will do. But a motorcycle operates on a different set of stopping rules than an automobile, the biggest one being that car drivers don’t have to keep their cars upright, so maintain your distance.
Don’t ride above your ability If you’re just starting out, take it easy, especially if you’re riding in a pack. It’s tempting to try and keep up with the at the front of the line, but better to swallow the pride, fall behind and keep body and soul together than to try and prove you’re as good as riders who’ve been at it longer. Skill will come in time.
Don’t drink or use drugs, prescription or otherwise, and drive Also, experts recommend, don’t ride when you’re fatigued, in an extreme hurry or have just been canned from your job. Pay attention and don’t let your mind wander; it only takes a split second to go from thrill to a spill.
Consider a safety course. This is the best way to learn, and you may get a break on your insurance. Ty van Hooydonk, a spokesman for the Motorcycle Industry Council, says motorcycle safety courses don’t have to be a bore. “The training stuff isn’t just all about strictly safety,” he told the Daily News. “It’s also about fun.”
To inquire about a safety course near you, call (800) 446-9227 or visit http://www.msf-usa.org
– Josh Max, AutoGigolo.com