Riding a motorcycle takes a huge amount of skill and focus. There are all kinds of things you should and shouldn’t do while riding. This can range from the obvious like don’t drink and ride, to the less obvious like don’t neglect to leave yourself an escape route at all times.
Even though some things might be obvious or common sense, you’d be amazed at the amount of accidents that are caused simply because people don’t use their common sense.
Most people would say, it’s common sense not to speed excessively or race on public roads. Yet in 2018 according to the U.S Dept of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, out of all fatal accidents on the road, the single greatest cause was “driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted limits or racing”. Seems like common sense is lacking these days.
So obvious or not let’s go over 28 things you should never do on a motorcycle:
1. Ride with worn out tires.
You might think your bald tires are fine, but they are not. Don’t lie to yourself and say they’re racing slicks. They’re not, they are in fact dangerous. Add a little water or oil to the mix and you’re just asking for a crash. Make sure you check your tires and replace them when needed.
2. Ride without a license or insurance.
Don’t do this, you’re just asking for problems. Not only from cops, but a huge lawsuit should you hurt someone while riding.
3. Brake check someone.
If someone is tailgating you or riding your ass, pull over and let him/her pass. It’s not worth the hassle. Don’t try to back him/her off by brake checking, what do you think will happen if they are not quick enough with the brakes or decide just to hit you? The answer is; you’ll lose. Save yourself a trip to the hospital and let them pass.
4. Ride beyond your limits.
When you are starting out stick to roads and situations you know you are capable of handling. In the middle of a turn is not the time to learn that you don’t know what the hell you are doing.
5. Drink and ride.
Drinking is fun, riding is fun. Mixing the two together, not so much. Even one drink is enough to slow your reaction time down. Not something you want when riding.
6. Lend your bike to a buddy.
I live by this rule. It’s not that I don’t want to share my bike. I would love to let my buddies take my motorcycle out for a spin, but there’s a simple reason why I don’t; I’ve seen before how quick a friendship can go down the crapper when a wrecked bike is involved. Not worth it.
7. Skip pre-ride check.
Always check that your bike is in good mechanical order. Brakes, fluid, tires, lights, chain, indicators, suspension. These all should be given a quick once over before you head off. It only takes a minute or two.
8. Try to show off.
Tricks, wheelies and ridiculous speed and public roads don’t mix. As cool as you think you look, think how uncool you are going to look with your mouth wrapped around the bumper of that car you just crashed into. Keep the stunts and excessive speeding to a closed track environment.
9. Grab a fist full of brake with your handlebars turned.
Do this and you’re going to dump the bike. No ifs, ands or buts. Always make sure your bars are straight before you get on the front brake.
10. Smash mirrors.
It doesn’t matter how much that douche in the SUV pisses you off. There is no need to damage someone else’s property. You only open yourself up to legal problems and you make all motorcyclists look like violent degenerates. Many motorists already hate us, don’t give them more reason.
11. Lay her down to avoid a crash.
If you lay down your motorcycle to “avoid” a crash, you’ve just done the complete opposite. You’re not avoiding a crash, you have crashed. Keep your bike upright and try your best to get out of whatever problem you are facing, get on the brakes more, lean it more, swerve. Use some of those emergency skills you’ve practised. Don’t just “lay her down”.
12. Run from the cops.
If you have insurance (which you should), a valid license (which you also should) and are not some international super criminal on the run, why run??? You’re only going to take that $100 ticket for your exhaust or other mod and turn into a felony criminal charge for evasion. Pull over, be cool and respectful. Cops know your 1000cc superbike can easily leave them eating dust. Show them you’re cooperating and many times you’ll ride away with a warning, simply because you didn’t run when you could have.
13. Fixate on an object you are trying to avoid.
That old saying, “where you look is where you’re going to go”. It’s so true, look where you want to end up. Not what you’re trying to avoid.
14. Ride while sleepy or tired.
There have been studies that being tired is just as bad as being under the influence of drugs or alcohol when it comes to reaction time and awareness. According to the NHTSA, In 2017 there were 91000 drowsiness related accidents. That works out to around 25 a day. Don’t make it 91001, make sure you are well rested and alert when you ride.
15. Over tighten bolts.
If you are going to do work on your motorcycle, get a service manual for your motorcycle and follow it. If it says “x” amount of torque for a bolt, don’t just wing it or get it close to “x”. Buy a torque wrench and use it, they are relatively cheap and will save you all kinds of headache should you strip a bolt.
16. Ride when pissed off.
When are you pissed off or angry, your adrenaline is pumping. You’re distracted and not focused and you are more prone to make aggressive and silly choices. This increases your chance of being involved in an accident. If you do have a close call situation that gets your blood pumping and adrenaline going, pull over and clear your head. Give your body a few minutes to let the adrenaline work its way out of your system.
17. Take selfies while riding.
Do I even need to explain this one? As stupid as this sounds, this was actually a trend for a while. All over the net I started to see all kinds of idiots posting selfies while riding. Don’t do this, keep your eyes and mind focused on the road.
18. Skip wearing gear.
Follow the ATGATT rule, “All The Gear All The Time”. There are many reasons why you should always wear gear. So many in fact, I wrote a whole article about it. Check it out below.
19. Try to get your knee down.
It doesn’t matter how good of a rider you may or may not be. Leave this for the track, public roads are not the place for it. Unlike on a track, you never know what is waiting for you around that corner. Debris, a pothole, gravel, an oil slick, a stopped car, pedestrians. Any one of those will spell disaster should you hit it while you got your knee down.
20. Get high then ride.
Don’t do this, regardless of what you think, it doesn’t get you more zoned in and focused. It actually inhibits your reaction time. Save it for after the ride.
21. Forget to use your mirrors.
Your mirrors are not only good for checking your hair and doing make up. Use them even when you are not moving, especially when you have just come to a stop and other motorists are still moving. Use them to check behind you to see if that SUV is actually going to stop or plow into you. Keep watching until all cars around you have stopped fully. The car 2 car lengths back is still a danger if he/she hits the car behind you.
22. Skip the rear brake when stopping.
The rear brake does more than just help the bike come to a stop. It also helps to keep the weight of the bike more evenly distributed. So, if you want to have much more controlled and shorter stopping distance, use the rear brake.
23. Neglect to leave yourself an escape route.
Whenever you are riding, you should always try to maintain some sort of escape route should something unexpected happen. If you are stopped or moving, always have somewhere safe you can go to quickly should “it” hit the fan.
24. Stare at your reflection as you ride by windows.
We all like to see how cool we look riding, but fight the urge to stare at yourself in the window reflections. Keep your eyes and mind focused on the road. Don’t worry, you look cool.
25. Cruise or linger in another motorist’s blind spot.
One of the worst places to be on the road is in someone’s blind spot, you increase the chances of being cut off or side swiped. So make a decision and quickly, then get in front of them or fall back. Don’t linger for any amount of time.
26. Tailgate the vehicle in front of you.
In a car this is just dangerous, on a motorcycle it’s fatal. Give yourself enough stopping distance for the speed and road conditions. Don’t ride someone’s ass. Give yourself plenty of time and space to react. If you notice idiots keep filling the space you are leaving, don’t get angry, readjust and make sure you still have enough space.
27. Use a tinted visor at night.
Tinted visors are great for keeping the sun out of your eyes during the day, they are not great however for seeing properly at night. Sure you look cool, but how cool are you going to look when you crash your bike because you didn’t see the oil slick in front of you? Skip the tinted visor at night.
28. Chop the throttle mid-turn.
If you are leaned over and you chop the throttle, you are going to upset the weight of the bike and probably cause a low-side crash. Keep the throttle constant through the turn. If you need to stop or slow down mid-turn, straighten the bike up and stop.
There you have it 28 things you should never do on a motorcycle.
While many of the items on this list might seem like common sense or even obvious to you when you read them, I am willing to bet dollars to donuts a few of them didn’t cross your mind until you actually saw them. That doesn’t mean you are a careless, unsafe or poor rider. It just goes to show that regardless of your skill or experience, there is always something to learn or to improve on when riding.
Complacency also plays a role. If you have been riding the same route day in and day out, your habits can cause you to become complacent and start to neglect the little things. Until one day that complacency leads to a close call or worse.
So do yourself a favor, take the points I mentioned and think about them. Try to remember them and if you feel yourself becoming complacent or forgetting some of the points listed, come back and skim through the list again. The biggest thing to remember is, you have to stay safe out there. Always look for ways to minimize your risk and increase your safety. Be vigilant, be safe.
Your goal each ride should be simple, enjoy the ride and make it home safe at the end of the day. I know this sounds kind of morbid, but it’s true.
Until next time, happy riding!