As winter passes, you might step out in the morning and find yourself at the beginning of a perfect day. It’s sunny, but not too bright, crisp but not cold, and the world around you is practically begging to be seen. It’s the perfect day to get back on the road, but what do you need to know before you pull your bike out of hibernation? Check out our list of 7 Spring Motorcycle Safety Tips.
1. Prioritize Safety
When thinking about your first ride of the season, your first thought probably won’t be concerned with how to stay the safest. But prioritizing safety is more important this spring than ever before.
Because you haven’t just been cooped up through the winter – you and those around you have been stuck at home for the past year. So it makes sense that as soon as the weather clears, you’d take off riding with whatever you can wear on your back and keep in your pockets. That’s a tempting thought, but don’t let eagerness to ride make you overlook basic motorcycle safety.
Even if you consider yourself a safe driver, in an age where needing one hospital visit may result in exposure to a potentially deadly virus, it’s a good time to really one-up your efforts.
2. Check for Critters
Depending on the climate and where you live, you may have had to keep your bike in storage through the winter. But when the snow and ice clears, you shouldn’t start your first ride without giving your bike a once-over. In colder weather, the many nooks and crannies of a motorcycle can make for the perfect home for little critters looking for warmth.
So before you start your bike, check the exhaust or air intake for mice or other rodents. You can also remove the bike seat and check inside for signs of rodents or damage.
Once you confirm no rodents have staked their claim in your ride, you’re going to want to change your oil and check your tire pressure. Of course, if you really want to be prepared, that’s only the beginning of what you can do.
3. Call Your M.O.M.
If you don’t already have a copy of your motorcycle owner’s manual, it’s definitely worth the price. The manual is a companion piece specific to your bike model, and it’s written in a way that allows riders of all experience levels to do the repairs necessary to keep their bike up and running.
The manual has a section specifically for scheduled maintenance. Using it as a guide, you can go through and check what does and doesn’t need attending to. Maybe your spark plugs need replacing, or your suspension might need to be maintained. From brake pads to loose bolts – whatever maintenance you’re bike needs, you’ll find helpful instructions in the motorcycle owner’s manual.
4. Check the T-CLOCS
When you’ve gone through the owner’s manual, a final check using a T-CLOCS walk-around is the best way to know you’ve done everything you can. T-CLOCS is an acronym checklist made by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation specifically for checking the functionality of a bike in every fashion. It checks Tires and Wheels, Controls, Lights and Electrics, Oils and fluids, Chassis, and Stands. Once you’ve gone through that, you can enjoy your first ride without the worry of your bike giving out from under you.
5. Wear a helmet
Staying safe can be as basic as wearing a helmet. This sounds obvious to some, but there is a portion of riders that believe the myth that a helmet can raise the risk of spine injury during a crash. This just isn’t true. A five-year study by the National Library of Medicine showed that using a helmet can reduce cervical spine fractures significantly. Helmets can reduce head injuries as a whole by over 50% and lower motorcycle crash deaths by 37%.
If that’s not enough, it’s good to note that motorcycle helmet laws are in effect across almost the entirety of the United States. That means that, if you get in a collision and you’re not wearing a helmet, your insurance company is less likely to cover you.
6. Don’t Fall for Fables
Another popular myth amongst some bikers is the saying “loud pipes save lives.” This is the motorcyclist’s equivalent of an old wives tale – and since a majority of bike collisions are impacts from the front of the bike, it’s a potentially deadly one. When it gets down to it, your modified exhaust system is more likely to cause hearing damage than prevent a crash. And if it’s loud enough, your system could even violate Texas Vehicle Exhaust Noise Laws.
There are ways to make yourself seen to the drivers around you that are more effective and better for both parties. You can add extra lights to your bike or wear high-visibility clothing, two things that get attention without emitting excess fumes or unnecessary noise that’ll only serve to lower your response time.
7. Refresh Your Skills
If you’ve been off the road for long enough off, you may feel shaky about your riding technique. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is a great resource for nationwide safety courses – online and in-person. You can use this to get reacquainted with current safety standards, and completing a course could even get you a discount on your insurance.
We’re all desperate to get moving again, but it would be chaos if everyone moved at exactly the rate and speed they’ve been waiting to. This has been a hard winter in an even harder year. Just like spring isn’t going to hit in a day, life won’t return to “normal” all at once.
As much as we want to dive into spring without thinking about the past and current pandemic, that’s just not wise. So take the patience you give to your bike and apply it to the rest of your life. Making the extra effort to stay safe this spring will make your warm-weather rides all the more enjoyable.