Scenario 1: You’ve finally saved up enough to buy that dream motorcycle, you take that wad of money and head down to the showroom and pick up that spanking brand new death machine and decide that you’re now the self-proclaimed king of the road
Scenario 2: You’re 37 and your married life just isn’t as exciting as it used to be. Cue mid-life crisis. You break into your kid’s college fund and decide to buy the biggest, maddest motorcycle you can think off. You straddle your new beast and bask in its reflected glory.
Both these scenarios have one thing in common and that’s where most motorcyclists make their first mistake. When your passion exceeds your talent/experience you are just a ticking time bomb for a massive disaster.
Biting off more than you can chew
Most new riders or those who are returning to 2 wheels after a decade long hiatus make the same blunder of picking up a motorcycle they think they want rather than a motorcycle they should be buying. If you’re a thin frail guy who has never ever ridden a motorcycle, it makes zero sense to pick up a motorcycle that weighs close to 200kgs. You have no experience in handling that kind of weight in traffic. You don’t even need to be going that fast before you realise, you might be up for the responsibility such a motorcycle bestows upon you. In the second scenario, you may have set the streets on fire in your younger days but motorcycles and roads since then have changed and getting out of your caged safety on to 2 wheels is going to be a whole new experience. Baby steps is key to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.
Accessories – Power Ranger mode Engage
We have seen a lot of new bikers, spend a ton of money on accessorising their rides, while we see nothing wrong in it, you need to ask yourself. Do you really need that neon strobe and that fancy cup holder and that fast charging point and that beefed up ram mount and those 4 auxiliary lamps. The simple answer is no. While we all like to personalize our rides, there is a fine line before you go overboard. More accessories means more distractions and more things that could possibly go wrong with your bike. Make a plan of possible upgrades and accessories you would want on your motorcycle and install them as and when you feel you really need them. Our suggestion would be to invest the money you save on not installing those gold plated floor boards, on some quality safety gear.
We Don’t Need No Safety Checks
We totally get it, you’ve just got your new ride and you can’t wait to take it out on the road but take it from our experience. Those few minutes you take to walk around your bike to check if everything is in place could be the difference between having a fun a ride to get ice cream or a more painful one to the hospital. Make it a habit to check your motorcycle before you sit on it, after a preliminary examination, start the engine to check for any out of place rattles or sounds. Make sure all yoru electricals are working (horn, lights & indicators), also remember to check for brakes.
The Road Less Taken
You’ve installed those extra panniers for your long haul tour and you think you’re invincible because you’ve just bought a motorcycle that can go anywhere. Congratulations on your acquisition but the question you should be asking yourself is if you can go where the bike can go. Riding a motorcycle requires you to be fit. If you’ve been smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day and the only exercise you’ve had is getting up to refill your plate. I’ve got some bad news for you, you’re headed towards the gates of pain. Leaving your fitness aside, let’s say you bite through the pain and carry on, another question to ask yourself, do you know how to fix your motorcycle. Remember, while touring help may be miles away and if you don’t want to be pushing your bike when it breaks down you might want to read up and educate yourself on how to do basic maintenance and repairs on your ride.
ATGATT- What? I don’t even go that fast
This is the most common excuse we hear from people when we ask them to gear up. Some are of the school where they have made up their mind that being on a motorcycle is all about the freedom of feeling the wind in your hair and they’re a lost cause, we just stopped telling them to gear up because we know they will only learn through experience. We are more bothered about the riders who have the flawed logic that wearing a helmet along is going to save you and it will, as long as you’re okay with living the rest of your life as a vegetable. While our head is the most important part of our body and it requires saving, the rest of your body is too. You need your feet to walk, you need your hands to wash that bum of yours and you need your back intact unless you want people to refer to you as wheels for the rest of your life. Gear is important and it’s better to get used to it now rather than after you’ve had a bad crash.
The Biking Brotherhood
We love the brotherhood that comes along with riding a motorcycle but if you’re new to the scene don’t go jumping into the first group of riders you come across. Just because they ride the same bike and like to hang out at the same places you do, it does not automatically mean that you’re going to keep up with their riding skills. While hanging out with a more experienced rider helps, hanging out with an experienced rider who is willing to show you the ropes helps even more. Start out by riding with a few friends, riding in a group involves having a whole load of faith in every other rider in the group and you will find it easier to learn and get used to the way a group rides when you start out with a smaller group of riding buddies. If you feel unsafe in the group, you may be hanging out with the wrong bunch.
While it is awesome to ride a motorcycle, there is a lot of responsibility that goes with it. There is no harm in asking for help when you need it. Riding is a lifelong learning experience and if you feel you’re not learning, you’re just not challenging yourself enough. Learn about your ride, learn about other riders and their rides. Share your experiences and listen to others share theirs, there is a wealth of information out there, all you need to do is make that effort to find it.
Ride hard and Ride Safe.