It’s every motorcycle rider’s first inclination to go out for a ride on the first nice day following winter. In addition to kicking off motorcycle season, this has an unfortunate tendency of also kicking off injury season.
Even if skies are clear and a warm breeze is calling your name, take a moment to look over this checklist before riding out.
1. Spring cleaning
Motorcycles that go without use for several months often attract critters. Riders who forgo a little spring cleaning before taking to the roads may be surprised to find a family a mice tucked in a storage basket or “creepy-crawlies” emerging from the crevices of the bike.
An unsuspecting rider who discovers these distractions while traveling at high speed could react in a dangerous way, resulting in a loss of balance and ultimately, a crash. Before jumping on your bike and heading out, gift your vehicle a thorough wash.
2. Standard T-CLOCS check
Once your ride is nice and shiny, don’t forget to also complete a standard T-CLOCS safety check. This includes checking the condition of your vehicle’s tires, controls, lights, oil, chassis and stand.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends that riders complete this inspection list before every ride. However, it is especially important to be diligent about completing this check before riding for the first time in several months. If there is an issue during your inspection, take care to correct it before riding.
3. Road conditions
One reason why so many riders have accidents near the start of motorcycle seasons is because of poor road conditions. Oftentimes, roadways are full of sand that was used earlier on to deal with snow, ice and or spring flooding. The snow and ice also create potholes in the road as they melt and expand in between small cracks the frigid temperatures made.
To avoid hazardous road conditions, it’s best to ride on dry roads. If possible, inspect these roads beforehand to avoid any areas that are especially risky.
4. Watch the forecast
Just because the sky is blue and the sun is shining now doesn’t mean that will be the case in an hour. While nice weather may be your inspiration to ride, always remember to check the forecast before heading out. This way you’ll be prepared for changes in the weather that could impact your ride, such as showers or strong winds.
5. Dress safe
Remember to suit up appropriately with:
- A DOT approved helmet
- Shoes that cover your ankles
- Eye protection
- Necessary weather precautions (sunscreen, rainwear, etc.)
- Full-fingered gloves
- Long sleeve shirt or jacket
- Long pants without tears or holes
6. Start out slow
It can be easy to forget the physical toll that motorcycle riding can take. If you’re feeling tired or unwell, hold off until you’re confident in your ability to remain alert and focused on the road.
Try taking it slow at first, using roads with fewer challenges to maneuver and less traffic. Go for short rides, rather than a long trip right off the bat. If you will be riding a long distance, pack snacks and water to keep up your energy.