The Need for Rider Education:
Over 90% of the motorcycle riders involved in accidents were self-taught or learned from family or friends. Rider education goes beyond basic skills and prepares you, much like pilot training, to correctly deal with those once-in-a-lifetime situations that you hope never happen.
Prepare to Ride:
Ensuring that your motorcycle is mechanically ready is a part of having good preparation, so is selecting the right protective gear to wear. But don't overlook YOU. Your physical and mental preparation are as important as correct tire pressure and a good helmet.
Understand Your Abilities:
To ride safely, you must know the limits of your abilities - what you can do, what you know. You must also know the capabilities of your motorcycle - how it performs in a curve, how quickly it can stop. And you must understand the limits of your abilities, you must take responsibility for operating within those limits.
Accept Your Responsibilities:
Once you are prepared, once you know the limits of your environment and your motorcycle, and once you understand the limits of your abilities, you must take responsibility for operation within those limits. Your responsibilities also include being properly licensed by your state motor vehicle agency.
Inspect Your Motorcycle:
Motorcycles don't wear out overnight, of course, but a daily check of your machine's general condition and fluid levels can make your ride a safe one. A pre-ride check should be a quick, easy inspection of critical components:
- Lights: Check your headlight, turn indicators, tail light, brake light, and horn.
- Tires and Wheels: Check your wheel rims for dents and cracks. Make sure that the spokes are tight and straight. Check tire pressure when the tires are cold and inflate them to the tire manufacturer's specifications. Check for sufficient tire tread. Remove any objects stuck in the tire treads that might cause a puncture.
- Fuel and Oil: Check the engine oil level according to the instructions in the owner's manual. And remember to check your fuel supply.
- Cables and Suspension: Check the cables and controls. Squeeze the clutch to feel if it is operating smoothly. Squeeze the front brake. It should feel firm and keep the motorcycle from rolling forward when pushed. Check the rear brake in the same way. Check the suspension for smooth but damped movement. Follow the instructions in your owner's manual to adjust the suspension for the load you will be carrying and the type of riding you will be doing.