1. Take a motorcycle safety class BEFORE you do something stupid.
I took a CHP class in California years ago in order to get my license. I swear that 40% of the guys in that class has major road rash already. Of course, none of these guys were riding cruiser bikes, they were all Ninja rocket guys. I highly recommend a class. Harley-Davidson offers them in most states. I am sure that there are a lot of classes offered.
2. Get some good protective clothes.
I am always amazed at guys riding in shorts. I am sure it is comfortable, but bring the BBQ sauce if you go down and are pinned under your exhaust. I ride with jeans – even in 100+ degree weather. Invest in a heavy leather jacket (check out Fox Creek Leather) – it will last you years and years and protect your body if you happen to go down.
3. Wear a Helmet!
Like it is with teenagers and cars, most of the accidents are with new riders. I highly recommend a DOT approved helmet if you are a new rider even if your state does not require a helmet. Heck, it should be a law that all new riders up to 2 years of riding should have to wear a helmet!
4. Always ride within your skill level.
If that means you don’t go over 50 mph, then don’t. If that means you spend weekends riding in circles in a parking lot, then do it.
5. Do not ride side-by-side unless you have the skill to and trust the other rider.
The most dangerous event I ever attended was the Love Ride in Southern California. Before the ride starts, bikes line the street up to 10 across and at least a mile long. Now you are side-by-side with riders who may have only 500 miles of riding experience, traveling 5 MPH. These guys are weaving to each side because they do not have the experience on how to ride slowly in a parade formation. One bad decision and up to 30 bikes would go down. I attended this once, never again would I ride in the parade. I suggest just meeting them at the party location.
6. Join a Club
Riding clubs are fun. There is nothing like riding with a group of riders who love to ride. There are clubs of all kinds, and for every bike, even girls only clubs. Yes men, motorcycles are not just for us anymore. Just one piece of advice if your girl has her own bike – NEVER ride on the back. That is just not right! Hey, you can get her an Air Shammy motorcycle dryer for her birthday!
7. Protect your Investment
First of all, lock your bike whenever you stop, even if for just a few minutes. I know a guy who had a new harley and left it unlocked while he went in for lunch. Needless to say, that bike was gone when he finished eating. Even if you park it in your garage, LOCK IT. I have two locks on my hog when it is in the garage. Someone has to work hard to take it. Also, be sure that your insurance covers all that chrome, apes, leather, etc. that you have added to it. This is something you have to ask for. Mine is insured for $5000 over replacement value to cover custom wheels, apes, chrome, etc. Be sure you cover for all that extra you have added.
8. Keep Your Bike Maintenance Current.
Be sure that you are following the recommended guidelines for maintenance. Get the Oil Changed, Check the oil regularly. Always check your tire pressure monthly or not more. I carry a tire pressure gauge in my leather vest pocket so I always can check my tire pressure. Low tire pressure is dangerous.
9. Wear Protective Eyeware
This one sounds so logical, but I have seen guys riding without glasses. You can do a lot of things blind – but riding a motorcycle doesn’t make the list. Protect your eyes – day and night.
10. Ride Defensively
I always assume that the person in that car is an idiot and out to kill me. Never assume that they see you, never. Chances are that they don’t. They are on the phone; or have their iPod plugged into their ears; or reading a book or newspaper in their lap; or drinking coffee and eating. But they are certainly NOT looking out for you. Keep good spacing and always have an exit strategy if they happen to merge into your lane without them seeing you.
11. Ok I added one more! Have Fun!
There is nothing like riding down the road; nothing like feeling the freedom of not being in a cage. Have fun and ride often. But always Ride Safe!