10 Riding Tips for Beginners: Part 5 (Final)

We reached the fifth and final episode of our riding guide for beginners. This doesn't mean that you're learning lessons are over. No, you will continue learning something new from every trip you make on two wheels. Hopefully, your bag of luck won't get empty before your bag of knowledge gets full. So let's get into it!
10 riding tips part 5 9 photos
Photo: Hubert Figuière on flickr/autoevolution
Maintain your motorcyclePlan your roadsStick to the rules of the roadPlan your routesPlan your routesIf you find a flooded road, turn aroundRespect other peopleCheck the weather first
Riding a bike is not just about how to seat, lean, change gears, and look around like the most advanced surveillance system in the world. It's also about maintaining the bike in tip-top condition. You'll be amazed to know how many accidents happened due to the poor maintenance of a motorcycle. These two-wheeled vehicles are not just like cars without a closed bodywork. Elements are affecting their engines, transmission, and other components since they are exposed to them. Apart from maybe, a storage compartment, everything can be affected by rain, sun, dust, or even bugs.

8. Bike condition

A machine will work well until it breaks. But good maintenance will prevent that or, at least, will delay it. That's why when you decide to get a bike, you will slowly become a part-time mechanic and technician. If a problem occurs while riding, you will be the first to notice it. If you're lucky (get that sip of luck from that bag), you will reach your destination and ask for a qualified mechanic. Otherwise, you might end up stranded on the side of the road with some critical parts broken. That's why you should always keep your motorcycle in top condition, or at least as close to that as possible.

Make a checklist and put it in your garage, so you'll know what you need to do before even getting out from there. Thus, you'll notice if something's missing and fix it. Checking a motorcycle is more than just looking at the dash and seeing if the engine light is still on. Some modern bikes have onboard diagnosis ports where you can plug an OBD tool and check what's happening. Get one. They are not that expensive and can save you a lot of money. But other things, such as the chain, cannot be seen on those tools.

I know that there are many bikes with transmission shafts or belts, but most of them are fitted with a chain. So take a look at the instruction manual and see when you have to tighten it. Also, check if it's lubricated. There are tons of online tutorials about how to do that, depending on the make and model of the bike. If you do that, you'll extend its life and will save you from troubles on the road. Also, you might want to know how to change it by yourself, what kind of tools you need, and so on. Hopefully, you'll never have to do that on the side of the road.

Maintain your motorcycle
Photo: 70_musclecar_RT+6 on flickr
The oil change is crucial. Just like in a car, a bike's engine needs oil. That, of course, if it's not electric. You should read the maintenance book and see the service interval to change the oil and filters. I would recommend shortening those periods. It might cost you a buck more, but you'll extend the life of the bike's heart. Also, check the oil level every 1000 km (620 miles). Again, the procedure should be shown in the owner's book, or you could ask the dealer how to do that. They'll be happy to show you.

Brakes may save the day. But only if they are in perfect running order. A worn-out pad might get you in trouble sooner than you think. Fortunately, you can visually check if the brake pads need to be replaced. You don't need any special tool for that. Also, try a few brakes on the streets close to your home before hitting the road for a longer distance. Don't brake suddenly and look back before doing that. You don't want to get hit by another vehicle.

Check tires weekly. An overinflated tire will affect the braking distance, your comfort, and the bike's turning abilities. It's one of the easiest jobs to do, but you'll need a tool for that. Fortunately, that's inexpensive. You might as well buy pressure sensors and check them with your phone on a dedicated app. Also, check tires for cracks, wear, and tear. If you notice something wrong, go to a tire shop and replace the faulty one.

Don't become another biker stranded on the side of the road just because they forgot to change the oil, lubricate the chain, or check the tires. There are way too many already.

Stick to the rules of the road
Photo: BMW

9. Route planning

Getting on the saddle and feeling the engine's vibrations is exhilarating. We want to feel that daily for the rest of our lives and enjoy dry asphalt under the wheels. Sometimes it's just the road to work; other times, it is the road to a faraway destination. Either way, we need to plan our routes. Nowadays, we can enjoy Waze or other navigation systems. A phone holder will help us navigate to the destination without any problems. Still, we need to check the route in advance.

Since we're no longer confined in a car, we need to know if the road we're taking is good. You may not want to get through a construction zone, even if it's a shorter route. Dust is not a good friend of ours, nor are our bikes. So making a small detour might be worth it. If an area is flooded, it's U-turn time, especially if you're not riding an off-road bike.

Again, I think there's no need to tell you that you need to wear adequate gear. We've already talked about that. But if you're going on a trail, you should pay more attention to what you wear. Also, check the weather. That's the most important thing. Nobody will come to save you if it rains and you are on top of a mountain. So always think that you are alone and remember to think for 15 seconds ahead of the bike.

Night riding requires more skills, so try to avoid that until you gain more experience. Start within city limits where, at least, there are more street lights. Then, start with some short trips after the sun is set. Also, riding on a hot summer day with the sun above your head might be a pain. You need to keep yourself well-hydrated. If that means more stops, so be it. Dehydration leads to headaches, and that leads to weaker focus.

Check the weather first
Photo: CFMoto
If you are riding alone or with one passenger and nobody else besides you, have your ID in a zipped exterior pocket. You may also use dog tags. That might sound terrible, but in the event of a crash, the emergency services will know who you are. I used to wear such tags with my SSN on them and my blood type. Fortunately, I never needed them.

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 safely 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 other people
Photo: Andrei Manzu
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 get 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!
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