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10 Riding Tips for Beginners: Part 5 (Final)

Here we are at the end of a rather long, and hopefully also instructive, guide dedicated to those freshmen in the two-wheeled world. You can also find links to the previous episodes at the end of this piece; please feel free to share them with your friends. Comments and suggestions are of course, most welcomed, too.
Ride well and live to ride a lot 1 photo
Having already covered some of the key elements which can help a new rider get used to what motorcycling is and keep him or her free from danger as much as possible, it's now time for some quick final considerations.8. Bike condition
You'd be surprised (in a most unpleasant way) to know just how many accidents happen because of faulty vehicles, bikes and cars alike. One of the best way to prevent such an unfortunate event is to make sure at least your ride is in good working condition.

Now, by “good” you should understand “top shape” or at least as close to the ideal as possible. This is one thing that has nothing to do with how many miles one has covered aboard a bike: it is imperative to know the condition of your motorcycle before you set out! It matters very little whether you're a rookie or a veteran: you will crash the same way in case anything goes wrong.

You should get used to check your ride periodically in case you don't ride on a daily basis and every time before you get on it. Now, if you're commuting to work, a detailed daily inspection would obviously be silly. However, checking your bike is more than knocking tires.

Some of the things you should consider are:

The chain slack, in case you don't ride a shaft- or a belt-driven bike. Take time to read your bike's manual and learn the right values for this. Knowing when it's time to tighten up the chain not only prolongs its life, but it will also add on the safety side and will better your mileage.

Watch your mileage for the oil change. The manufacturer specifies the oil and oil filter change intervals. You can do a bit less or a bit more, it's not a problem, but make sure you're not over the top.
Check oil level regularly. If you have an oil level window, a glance should be ok. If not, you could do a manual check every 1000 km or so (600 miles), adding some more if needed. If too much oil is needed to reach the right level, you should see your mechanic.

Make sure your brakes are working. Do some test braking before you hit the streets, just to make sure everything is alright. You should also pay attention to the level and color of the brake fluid, and a glance will be enough. If the level is low, you might have a leak: fill in to the right level and see your mechanic. If it's too dark, something's amiss or the fluid is way too old. Change is needed. The same goes for bikes with a hydraulic clutch.

Tire pressure is a weekly job. Watch your tire pressure and wear regularly. Improper pressure leads to premature tire wear, poor steering, increased fuel consumption and in extreme cases it can also cause you to crash. If you have the money to spare, consider getting some tire pressure monitor sensors, which will alert you when the pressure is off the charts. If damage or excessive wear is detected, it's a trip to the mechanic or tire shop.

All in all, we should all remember that motorcycle riding is already more dangerous than driving a car, so us riding bikes in great working condition eliminates much of the potential hazards we face every day. There are a lot of road users whose vehicles could literally snap in half or catch on fire... why increase their ranks?
Keyword: bike condition. The better your bike works, the happier you'll be. You should be riding and enjoying, not riding in constant fear that something will go wrong.
Tip: check the bike periodically, and sometimes check again.9. Route planning
Getting away from the confinements of a car is one of the most exhilarating feelings for the new rider. We don't know a single motorcyclist to have never trembled in anticipation each morning after getting their license and bike, waiting to ride their new machine as far as possible and enjoy this wonderful sport.

Even more, older riders with tons of experience and hundreds of thousands of miles spent on the bike feel this too, each time they're about to start a new journey. It has nothing to do with age: it's simply the very magic feeling we all get when we feel the engine vibrating under the saddle and we throttle away.

Wonderful and uplifting as all this thrill may be, we should never let it overcome reason: failing to properly asses the present situation and anticipate the potential future ones could lead to a less pleasant ride, around the town or a longer one, and in some extreme cases to very serious troubles.

Even if you're starting off some small ride around the town, you should at least have a generic idea where you're headed to and see if what you're going to face is up to your skills. For example, as nice as it is to ride a trail bike on mountain paths, you should always judge whether you have at least the basic skills for the task.

Watch the weather and gear up. There is absolutely nothing wrong in leaving for a ride even though you see rain clouds gathering. But if you decide to ride in these conditions, you'd better have some water protection. Water-resistant bike clothing or overalls will spare you the discomfort, cold or hypothermia, pneumonia and all the rest.

If you know you hate riding at night, starting a 3-hour ride 1 hour before sunset is not at all the wisest choice. Likewise, if it's a hot summer day, you should definitely consider clothing with vents and regular stops for rehydration, and some facial protection against sun and dust.

At the same time, you should also check your fuel level and even the charging status of your cell phone. Being stranded due to a depleted tank on a deserted back road in the middle of a field with a phone that won't even power up anymore is not the best adventure scenario.

If you plan to leave on a longer trip alone or with a passenger, have your ID and emergency phone numbers with you. This is indeed extremely uncanny for pretty much any rider: filling in the emergency contact label inside the jacket or putting on similar dog tags gives a spine chill sometimes, but hey, these are the rules of the game you wanted to play.

Obviously, it's no use in riding away with gloom in your heart as if it's the last ride you'll ever take. In fact, it's the other way around: you should be happy and reasonable, capable to enjoy your ride to the max, while knowing and accepting the idea that you ride in the wake of danger. Again, maybe this is one of the things that make bikes so exciting...

Keyword: a little planning. You don't have to plan everything down to minute details, but knowing where you're going and a little anticipation is worth a lot.
Tip: even if you're really excited about riding your bike, it doesn't mean everything will be nice and smooth as you hope it will be. Being prepared and aware might not only account for a truly glorious ride, but it offers more chances to make it safe home if the going gets tough.10. Consider all of the above, show respect and ride well
Now that we're here, the final advice would be to run through all the previous chapters once more and try to understand some of the basic things about bikes and road usage.
Respect. You're not alone on the road even if you are alone. Don't litter where you ride, and don't act like you own the road. You're not the first there and you're not the last one, either. If you want respect, the best way to it is by proving you understand what respect is, that you can handle it and you can offer it. Being a biker does not mean you are superior.

Danger. Motorcycle riding has always been, is and will forever be dangerous, no matter how good your bike is, no matter how well equipped you are and by all means, regardless of how lucky and experienced you think you are. If you choose to ride, you choose to be exposed: act accordingly.

Skills. A poor rider is a dead rider: it sounds harsh and extreme, but old bikers will confirm this. You - the rookie, me – the writer, others – professional race riders, we will never be too skilled when it comes to riding. The time to learn and hone your abilities is never done: they say practice makes perfect, but there is no perfection on two wheels.

Thank you for the time you spent reading this. Ride well, ride safe and ride proud!

10 Riding Tips for Beginners: Part 1
10 Riding Tips for Beginners: Part 2
10 Riding Tips for Beginners: Part 3
10 Riding Tips for Beginners: Part 4.


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