Riding a motorcycle on the freeway is much different than riding in the city, that’s the reason I wrote this article. To share some tips and tricks I have learned over the years, hopefully by the end of this article you will feel more confident and ready to give riding on the highway a try.
So, how do you ride a motorcycle on the freeway? You need to first make sure you are comfortable and confident with riding a motorcycle at slow speeds and in the city. Then check that your licence and motorcycle meets all the legal requirements to be allowed on the highway. After that it’s a matter of getting out there and getting used to it.
That’s a very simplified answer. Let’s look at the various aspects of riding a motorcycle on the highway, what are some tips to help you be more comfortable and what you should avoid when riding your motorcycle on the highway. Read on the learn all about it.
Should I ride on the freeway as a new rider?
You should only ride on the highway after you’ve got the basics down and are comfortable with how to operate your motorcycle properly. Whether or not you’re still a “new” rider depends on how well or how quickly you are able to do this.
You might get a rider who has natural talent for riding, after 10-15 hours he/she is completely confident and comfortable with the basic controls on their motorcycle. The flip side, you might get a rider that even after 10 hours, still struggles with gear changing and clutch control.
Once you can honestly say “I’m confident that with the skills I have, I won’t be a danger to others or myself” you can start getting out there.
This does not mean you have to be an expert rider, we all have to learn somehow, but just make sure you are ready. No need to rush it, you’ll get there when the time is right.
Is riding a motorcycle on the highway more dangerous than in the city?
Believe it or not, your chances of being in a crash on the highway are far less than in the city. This is mainly due to lack of opposing traffic, stops, turns. Everyone is pretty much just going in one direction.
That’s not to say you don’t have to worry about someone cutting you off. You still do, it’s just that if you are paying proper attention, they should be a lot easier to spot in advance.
With all that being said, due to the higher speeds involved, any crashes on the highway tend to lead to much more severe injuries and increased chances of a fatality.
How to be more comfortable when riding on the highway?
Once you’ve gotten over the initial rush of excitement, you’ll start to notice that highway riding can take its toll on you in different ways compared to city riding.
Here are a few things you can do to make it a bit more comfortable:
- Get highway pegs if your motorcycle allows it. Try getting a pair of highway pegs added to your motorcycle. This will allow you to stretch your legs and change up your sitting position slightly while you are riding. This will increase blood flow and prevent fatigue from setting in which can lead to cramps forming.
- Take breaks. This might seem like an obvious one, but taking breaks is a great way to help your body get the blood flowing again. I don’t mean stop, have a coffee and sit on your butt for 20 minutes. Walk around the parking lot, do some stretches. Get some blood flowing to your muscles. You might look strange to others, but who cares.
- Wear proper gear for the weather conditions. This is a huge one. Make sure you have the correct gear for the weather you are going to be facing. Being wet while cruising down the highway is not fun at all. This can also be dangerous if that annoying drip of water down your back distracts you from the road, hazards and traffic around you.
- Stay hydrated. Don’t let yourself get dehydrated. I’ve done it, many others have as well. You are on the road, the sun is out, it’s a great day all around. Then you start to feel thirsty and the next stop with water is 50 clicks away. Your mouth starts to feel dryer and each swallow is a chore to complete. Any saliva you do have feels like it’s as thick as molasses. It sucks, just make sure you hydrate yourself properly before riding and while riding take hydration breaks.
- Shift your weight around. This is a good one, the moment you start to feel any discomfort on your butt, just shift your weight a little. After a little while you’ll notice the discomfort will start to lessen if not disappear completely. If you notice this is not working, then you might just need to pull over at the next rest stop and give your body a break.
- Get a windshield. This can make a huge difference. While your naked streetfighter is perfect for zipping around the track or city, the lack of wind protection is a major disadvantage on the highway. This causes increased fatigue when riding, the wind battering your chest and helmet might not seem like much for the first little bit, but trust me, 3 hours later will be a different story.
- Give plenty of time for the trip. Don’t be rushed, give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. If it is a 3 hour trip and you need to meet someone there, budget 4 hours for the trip. Give yourself some extra time to take breaks and enjoy the ride. If it’s 10 hours or more, you might want to find somewhere to camp or sleep after 6 hours or so. For me at least, the highway at dusk or night is not something I enjoy.
How can I be a safer motorcycle rider on the highway?
So we talked about comfort, but what about a much more important issue? Safety. What can be done to help keep you safer on the highway? Let’s take a look.
Here are 8 important tips that will keep you safer on the highway when riding:
- Give lots of space. Your stopping distance is not as good as a car’s. So while you might think you are fine, because you’ve given the same distance as the car in front of you, you actually need to give more time and distance to stop. Besides, what happens to a car that rear ends a transport compared to you on a motorcycle?
- ATGATT. This is a no-brainer. It’s also so important that I made a full post all about it. Read it here.
- Think about the SMIDSY factor. “Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You”. That is one of the most common phrases you will hear after a motorist hits a motorcycle on the road. You don’t want this to happen to you. So you need to take action to make yourself more visible on the road, especially the highway. Throw a high-vis safety vest on over your jacket. Sure you might not look as cool as that dude who is in all black gear out on his chopper, but who do you think the other cars will see first on the road?
- Avoid nighttime and dusk. Visibility is key to your safety. During dusk and night, drivers will have a greater difficulty seeing you properly on the road. So Try to avoid it if you can.
- If the weather is really bad, pull over and wait it out. So many reasons why you should. It’s really just common sense. Take bad weather breaks as a chance to rehydrate, get some food and stretch your legs.
- Don’t do wheelies or other reckless stunts. Its stupid and pointless, enough said. If you really want to do this, find a closed track or place without other motorists. Don’t be a douche.
- Avoid excessive speeding. I’m not saying don’t have fun. Just maybe keep it within reason.
- Start early and stop early. Again, this will allow you the most time with natural light helping you to avoid dusk or night time riding.
The process of how to ride a motorcycle on the freeway might seem simple. You simply get a motorcycle, learn the basics and away you go, the open road is yours for the picking.
In reality there is actually a whole lot more to it. I’m glad you joined me today and I hope your next ride is a good one.
Now get on your motorcycle and get out there!