You completed your motorcycle training course and added that motorcycle endorsement to your driver’s license, now you’re qualified to take life on two wheels. It’s exhilarating, but you still have a lot to learn. Think of the first 30 days after getting your motorcycle license as a steep learning curve and approach every ride as a chance to improve your skills.
You’ll be forming habits that are likely to stay with you for a lifetime. They’ll either make you a safer, more skilled rider or ingrain dangerous habits that are tough to break later. Expert riders share these tips for the first 30 days after you get your motorcycle license.
Ride Like You’re Invisible
Insurance company data shows the first month of riding is the one in which newbies are most likely to have an accident. That’s because in the early days skills are still developing and riders may not be used to riding defensively.
Vehicles manufacturers work very hard to make drivers feel safe, comfortable and enclosed in a cocoon. Motorcycle manufacturers work hard to build powerful, durable machines that accelerate quickly, move responsively and look tough. That means there’s a big difference in terms of protection for the rider.
Even the biggest motorcycles are much, much smaller than a passenger vehicle. One of the best tips expert riders will give you is to ride like you’re invisible and everyone else is drunk. For example:
- Scan constantly for escape routes. If the roadway has multiple lanes, choose one with a shoulder.
- Pass quickly to minimize the possibility of abrupt lane changes.
- Use extra caution near highway entrances and exits since vehicles will be merging.
- Whenever possible, stay in open spots in traffic.
- At intersections, don’t assume other drivers see you. Use caution.
- Make yourself as visible as possible with reflective or bright clothing and bike lights on.
Maintain Your Bike
New riders often choose used motorcycles, both because they cost less and because they expect to have a learning curve. If you’re in the market, check out our pre-owned inventory for some of the best prices in the state on used Harley-Davidson® motorcycles.
If you bought your bike from us, it’s already been through a rigorous inspection process, you have a warranty and all necessary repairs are complete. If you got it somewhere else, bring it by and we’ll take a look to make sure it’s mechanically sound and safe to ride.
Several issues could affect your safety during the first 30 days after getting your motorcycle license. Properly inflated tires make sure you have traction and control, especially when turning and stopping. Check tire tread and replace worn tires if needed. Unless the previous owner gave you documentation on the last oil change, have one to make sure yours is fresh. Inspect lights and turn signals so other drivers can tell what you’re about to do.
Make a habit of visually inspecting your bike before every ride. Use the acronym T-CLOCS (tires, controls, lights, oil/fluids, chassis, stands) as a checklist.
Get the Right Safety Gear
The first 30 days after you get your motorcycle license, make it a habit to wear the right clothes and protection when you ride. Texas is known for its wildly fluctuating temperature extremes. It’s worth investing in gear that can help you stay comfortable.
A full-face helmet protects your head and keeps the bugs out of your teeth. We sell some of the most lightweight and best ventilated on the market.
Choose motorcycle riding boots with stable construction that comes at least to the top of your ankle. Thick, moisture-treated leather or abrasion-resistant textiles are good choices for riding boot material. Look for boots with thick soles that provide the right amount of grip.
Riding jackets protect your arms and torso if you do have a spill, but riders choose them just as much for how they protect from the elements as for accident protection. Mesh jackets are best for summer months while leathers block the wind when it’s cooler.
If you get in an accident, your hands are likely to be the first thing to hit the pavement, so protect them with sturdy leather gloves. Plus, in cool weather, your fingers and your knees will be the first places to go numb.
Practice Slow Speed Maneuvers
You probably got a motorcycle license because you envisioned the freedom of exploring back roads or the exhilaration of riding Dallas streets, not for the thrill of circling parking lots at 15 mph. However, many newbie drivers damage their bikes and their pride because slow speed maneuvers take time, patience and practice to master. A motorcycle is just much easier to control once it’s moving at a steady speed and trajectory than it is at slow speeds in confined areas.
The first 30 days after getting your motorcycle license, find a parking lot and practice. Get comfortable with smooth starts and stops, then progress through turns, U-turns and figure eights all at a walking pace. The hours you invest now will make you a better, more confident rider over the long haul.
Seek Out Seasoned Riders
You'll get the best advice and insight from people who have been where you are now and learned to become better riders. At Black Gold Harley-Davidson, we have an amazing group of people, many of whom love nothing better than to give advice on riding related topics. The best place to meet seasoned riders is at dealership events. Find current ones here.