Common Mistakes Made By New Motorcycle Riders

Men shopping for motorcycle

You passed your riding test and have your motorcycle license in hand!  You just got your very first motorcycle and are pumped about getting out on the open road and taking your new ride for a spin. 

The excitement a new rider experiences can be thrilling and electrifying all at the same time, which can cause them to ignore and even miss crucial safety steps and precautions. All riders have been beginners at one time, so don’t worry if you don’t have everything figured out yet. It is all part of the process…everything comes with due time. 

We want all riders out there to be armed with as much helpful information as possible. It is important to be aware of some of the common mistakes we see from new riders out on the road. Whether you are new to riding, or a veteran of the road, we recommend you be aware of some of the more common mistakes you will see from a new rider so you are prepared to deal with these sorts of situations. Here is a list of common mistakes by new riders:

  • Skill level – Those who are new to riding will often times get excited and try to do to much in the beginning. They may try to ride and make maneuvers that are above their current riding skill level, which makes them more prone to causing an accident. It is important to develop your skill level and feel comfortable riding your motorcycle through practice. 
  • Not having the right gear – One of the most important pieces of gear that a new rider will not wear is a helmet. There are several recommendations on gear that is recommended for riders for safety reason. Make sure to do your research and be prepared to have the proper gear so that you are protected in the event of an accident. It will take some time to research and cost you some money, but nothing like the time and money it will cost you if you end up badly injured and in the hospital!
  • Incorrect use of turn signals – Both drivers and motorcycle riders are guilty of this one, but it is crucial for the safety of riders. If you don’t use your turn signal it causes dangerous conditions for all vehicles on the road. If you are a rider you want to be as clear as possible about switching lanes to other drivers. Using your turn signals allows other drivers to know your next move and with reduce the chances of causing an accident. It is also important for riders to cancel turn signals as most motorcycle do not have self-cancelling turn signals.  This can confuse drivers, so be sure to get used to the fact that you will have to manually stop your turn signal after use. 
  • Stalling/Forgetting to downshift when stopped – If you forget to downshift once you are at a stop, this will contribute to your bike stalling out. The more you practice this routine the less likely you will stall out your bike. 
  • Counter steering – It is important for new riders to learn how to counter steer on a motorcycle.  This happens when a rider is about to start a turn. When a turn is initiated, the rider will steer counter to the desired direction (steer right to turn left) just for a moment’s time. This is what creates the “lean” for riders and helps reduce turning accidents. 
  • The kickstand – New riders can forget to put the kickstand up on their motorcycle once they mount the bike. The kickstand is designed to shut off your motorcycle if you try to shift into gear with the kickstand still down. Not only can this be alarming to a new rider, it can also be a bit embarrassing. 
  • Know your fuel range – A lot of motorcycles do not have fuel gauges, so it is important to know how far you plan to travel on your motorcycle before you need to fuel up again. Some riders will calculate the average by setting a trip meter after you fill up your tank. Be sure to check your fuel tank so you know when you are getting close to empty. This is very important if you plan to take a long ride so you can map out locations where you can stop and refuel!
  • Stops on uneven roads – If you have to come to a stop on a road that is a bit uneven, you don’t want to tip the bike over by putting your foot down and noticing there is a huge drop, putting all the weight on one leg and causing the bike to tip over. It is best to stop in the middle of the lane at a light to reduce the changes of running into less than ideal stopping conditions. 
  • Braking on curves in the road – The sharper the curve you enter on a motorcycle, the less tire traction you have and the less brake force is available. New riders may not be familiar with this and try to slam their brakes on while riding into a curve on the road, which can cause a dangerous accident. If you have the space, you will want to enter a curve, straighten out the motorcycle and then apply the brakes to avoid tipping the bike over and losing control. If you are in a situation where you cannot straighten the motorcycle first, then smoothly apply a little bit of breaking as you straighten the motorcycle back up. Once the motorcycle has been straighten, then you can apply the maximum break force to get yourself to a stop. 
  • Blind spots – It may sound like common sense, but riders want to avoid riding in the blind spots of other drivers. Motorcycles are already hard enough for other drivers to see out on the roads, so you want to make sure you are as visible as possible at all times. Keep in the direct line of sight to other drivers and take extra caution to avoid blind spots. 
  • Leaving enough room – You will want to keep a safe distance from other vehicles on the road…especially when you are new to riding. This will give you time to make corrections and get a handle if something goes wrong as you are learning to maneuver your motorcycle on the road.  Having an escape route or enough space to avoid an accident could be the thing that saves your life. 
  • Cross traffic at intersections – As we mentioned before, it is hard for other drivers on the road to always see motorcycle riders.  Even if you are at a green light and riding through an intersection, riders still need to be aware of cross traffic. There are times when a vehicle may try to run a red light, which could cause a head on collision. If you are hit on a motorcycle in this situation, you could be badly injured. Be extra alert and pay close attention as you near intersections to avoid a serious or even deadly injury.
  • Manholes, plates, and other bumps in the roadways – Avoid these at all costs. The simple truth is that these do not bode well for motorcycle riders and can cause serious accidents and injuries. 
  • Sloped parking spots – This is one of the toughest situations for a new biker to get out of. Try having to roll a heavy motorcycle out of a sloped spot with just the force of your legs without falling…you get the picture. 
  • Practice – The number of hours you spend riding your bike is important when it comes to practice, but it isn’t the only thing that is important! You will want to make sure you practice and master different riding techniques so that you are prepared and safe while out riding. Some examples of things you will want to practice are body positioning, emergency braking, taking a corner, how to counter steer, and how to control the throttle. 
  • Maintaining your motorcycle – Basic motorcycle maintenance is key to keeping your ride safe.  Be sure to check out your bike by inspecting the tires, chains, and fluids on a regular basis. 

Mistakes are going to happen even if you are not new to riding. It takes time to get familiar with motorcycles. Do not succumb to the pitfalls of new riders and be prepared by doing your research and practicing your riding techniques. Be prepared and do your research before hitting the open roads. If you are looking for more general information, check out our FREE digital book Motorcycle Accident Secrets Unlocked.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident, give MaxPower Law a call at 425-970-9300. We are motorcycle enthusiast who understand the challenges that riders face to stay safe in Washington state. We fight for the rights of those who are injured due to the reckless actions of another party. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case. 

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