When I was a newbie rider, I received my own share of practical tips from the veterans. But among those tips, a few never made much sense to me.
They still don’t. And after years of riding, I now realize how dangerous some of them were.
Now, motorcycle riding style and preferences depend on the individual. But safety isn’t an aspect where you’d want to walk a different path.
So, these are some riding tips that you need to steer clear of, no matter where you hear them from.
From Bad to Worst: Motorcycle Advice to Ignore
1. You Don’t Need to Practice Motorcycle Riding Frequently
This one has an equally dangerous extension: riding a motorcycle is like swimming. Even decades of not riding won’t wipe off your muscle memory.
Unfortunately, many riders don’t even need to hear this advice to follow it. No wonder there are plenty of riders who have been riding for years and still remain at the beginner’s level.
You will not become a better rider by simply staring at your bike, no matter how expensive it is. When you want to get better at any physical activity, practice is the key. The same goes for motorcycle riding too.
There are many aspects of riding like low-speed turning, throttle control, emergency braking, etc. that one has to practice. Besides, developing skills like scanning, monitoring, and avoiding distractions while riding takes time. A combination of these tasks can be challenging for your working memory unless you practice
So, even if your schedule is busier than a vampire at a blood bank, practicing at least once a week is a must if you want to improve your riding skills.
2. Lessons Are for Losers
Someone once said: The dumbest people I know are those who know it all.
While the scope of this saying expands beyond motorcycling, there are many riders who think that they are too good for a motorcycle safety course. And there are even more who believe that they can learn more on the road than in a classroom.
In reality, most safety courses (except online) have separate classroom and road skills segments. That allows you to test the theories right after you learn them. And knowledge will definitely help you to drive more safely. Without a doubt, such courses help new riders to gain confidence.
And even if one has been riding for years, a safety course can be a healthy refresher to reacquire the skills that might have faded away.
What’s more, you may get discounts on insurance rates by completing some riding safety courses.
And another thing…
Many newbie riders get drawn by the look and feel of a motorcycle and the romantic dreams of chasing the sunset. Actually, they don’t have much idea what they are getting into.
A safety course can be a kick in the butt dose of realism about motorcycle accidents and how severe they can get. That will help them to rethink whether they really want to ride a motorcycle or return to the safety of a car.
3. High-Visibility Gear Is Not That Important
Let’s be honest. Motorcyclists are some of the most peer-influenced groups of people on this planet.
I found many riders are focusing on louder exhausts in order to improve visibility for car drivers. And honestly, during the initial stage, I also believed that it was a good idea.
Admittedly, during that phase of my life, I was clever but not wise. (Now it’s just the reverse.) Isn’t it clever to believe that noise can make you seen on the road?
Over the years I have come to realize that high-visibility gear does play a big role in preventing car drivers from crashing into motorcycles. However, most motorcyclists are more concerned about how they look in fluorescent colors than about the safety aspects of those colors.
Unfortunately, the idea is, while riding a cruiser, it’s all about wearing leather and black. Even worse, riders who wear high-viz gear are often sniffed at and given nicknames like “traffic cones”.
But the fact is riders wearing reflective or fluorescent clothing have a 37% lesser risk of facing an accident than other riders. One report by the NHTSA states that around one-third of multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes are related to the lack of visibility of the motorcycle!
In a nutshell, it’s crucial for motorcyclists to remain visible at all times. There is plenty of gear you can choose from to increase on-road visibility. and look cool without appearing comical.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking you to ride wearing a bright orange banana suit. But gear like colored or reflective jackets, helmets, and vests are good options.
4. Bumping Up the Tire Pressure Over the Manufacturer’s Recommendation is Good
One common concept that you might hear is overinflating the tires can improve mileage and reduce tread wear.
Sure enough, overinflating will not make the tires pop off the rim like some special effects in a horror movie. But it will surely affect the tire contact patch, and that can increase the risk of a crash.
(Now’s a good time to say: I’m sorry, what was that?)
The contact patch or footprint of the two tires are the only two points of contact that keep you connected to the planet while riding. The shape and size of this patch, especially on the rear tire, is affected by a lot many variables. And the relation between tire pressure and the contact patch isn’t linear.
In essence, when you overinflate the tire, the sidewalls and the tread gets harder. As a result, the contact patch will shrink and affect the motorcycle’s handling. Since the suspensions are tuned to work with the set tire pressures, the ride quality will also go out of tune.
It also affects the stiffness characteristics and makes the tire prone to external damage. Besides, overinflating will also result in uneven wear and reduce tire life. What happens is the central portion of the tire bears the maximum weight and will wear out faster than the edges.
While carrying extra luggage or a pillion, the tire pressure can be increased by a fraction. But that should be done in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Note, some riders also lower the tire pressure before off-roading, which isn’t a smart choice either. It can cause structural damage to the tire.
So ignore all such advice and stick to the optimum pressure mentioned in the owner’s manual or the numbers mentioned on the tire’s sidewall.
5. Irregular Tread Means Defective Tire
While we are on the subject of tire pressure, here’s one more idea that you might find circulating in the motorcycle grapevine. I have heard riders blame the quality of the tires for irregular tread wear patterns.
Abnormal tire wear is an indication that something is wrong with the motorcycle and not the tires. And riding on uneven tires is a risky business that you should avoid.
Obviously, overinflation and underinflation are two reasons that can lead to uneven tire wear. The best way to avoid such an issue is to check your tire pressure at regular intervals.
But beyond that, there are mechanical issues that cause rapid tire wear. Even the most premium tires will wear out when subjected to constant stress from the wrong directions.
One of the main causes is wheel misalignment. In such a scenario, one or both wheels are not parallel to the direction of travel. Since they are at different angles, the tire will end up wearing heavily on one side. In extreme cases, the motorcycle will start pulling right or left.
Additionally, there can be wobbling at certain speeds. This is caused when the wheels try to realign themselves to maximize the traction.
The other reason can be an issue with the suspension of the motorcycle including broken components or loose bearings. This type of wear can be in the form of diagonal stripes on the tire surface or cupping near the shoulder.
6. It’s the Other Guy’s Fault (Especially If It’s a Car)
How many times have you heard something like this from other riders?
“Those drivers hate motorcycles.”
Frankly, many motorcyclists readily look at others’ faults instead of checking their own mistakes. And once you fall prey to this tendency, you might find yourself doing the same.
The blind spot is the area not visible to the driver’s naked eye or through the car’s rearview mirrors. Drivers can make a lane-changing move assuming that there are no vehicles in their blind spot. If you’re in that spot, chances are, an accident will happen. I have seen experienced riders staying in the blind spots of vehicles without even realizing their mistake
The first step for riders is to have a clear idea about a vehicle’s blind spot. Basically, we should remain conscious about where we are riding and make sure that we don’t remain hidden.
Remember, heavy vehicles like a truck will have even larger blind spots. And since the motorcycle is the smallest vehicle on the street, it’s our responsibility to make sure that we remain visible.
Likewise, it’s important to anticipate the mistakes of other drivers, especially in cross traffic. For example, checking left and right while passing through an intersection.
Quite simply, intersections are one of the most dangerous places for motorcycles. This simple observation will help you to avoid a vehicle blowing through a red light.
Yes, you may blame the other guy, but you have to remain alive to reach that stage.
7. Denim Is the Ideal Riding Gear
Even the presumable comfort of jeans is kind of lost on me. But that’s not the only reason why wearing your favorite pair of jeans is a singularly bad idea while riding.
Your Levis 511s will be torn to shreds, leaving your lower limbs rubbed raw from a slide even at relatively lower speeds of 30 to 35 mph. And pieces of cotton fabric sticking into a bloody wound can make things even messier.
Honestly, I walked like a centipede with 98 missing legs for a few days after one such unlucky slide. I made the mistake of choosing a riding pant with a class B CE rating when I should have chosen A/AA class gear.
Riding in motorcycle pants is an important aspect of motorcycle safety. They are specially padded in the knee area and have slide protection ratings. They also have armors with Level 1 or Level 2 ratings. Moreover, these pants are well-designed to ensure comfort.
In a crash, the fragile portions of your lower body suffer damage from mainly two types of injuries. These are impact and abrasion injuries. The best riding pants will offer protection from both types of injuries.
To get the best of both worlds, you can pick a pair of riding jeans. These are specially reinforced with materials like Kevlar and Cordura to provide leg protection.
Besides, these pants will protect your legs from getting scorched by a hot exhaust pipe. Since they are waterproof, they are also a great choice for riding in wet weather.
8. Skill Is All That Matters
While riding skill is extremely important, this piece of advice can easily be misinterpreted. That really makes it dangerous for newbie riders.
Once you have learned the essential skills like braking techniques, turning, and swerving, you might feel that you are as invincible as Johnny Blaze on the streets. And overestimating one’s riding abilities is a big mistake. An overconfident rider may try out dangerous maneuvers or engage in risky behavior.
Then what about this saying: when everything is under control, you aren’t moving fast enough.
Let me say this straight. I believe in pushing personal boundaries.
But that doesn’t mean one has to invite disaster by being reckless. It’s easy to get carried away and ignore safe riding practices. Such behavior can put yours, as well as the lives of others at stake
It’s best to learn the right techniques through practice, that will help you to ride faster without adding to the risks.
Keep in mind that there’s a fine line between risk-taking and endangering your life. In other words, riding a motorcycle is about enjoying your life and not losing it.
No matter if you are a new or a veteran rider, avoid these 8 riding tips to extend your riding days by a few more years.
Truth is, you can’t avoid hearing a lot of riding advice from all quarters. But remember, in motorcycling, the illusion of knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance.
Whatever others say, you are responsible for your own safety while riding. So “ride your own ride” and avoid picking up riding ideas without asking questions.