It can be a challenge for both first-time riders and experienced riders to choose the right motorcycle. It can be overwhelming to consider all of the factors and choices that go into making this big purchase. If you are a rider or are interested in learning how to ride, it is important to think about what motorcycle will be the best choice for you. One of the most important things to consider when choosing your new ride is safety. There are ways you can ride safely in all kinds of conditions. If you are new to riding and are looking to purchase a new motorcycle, you may be asking yourself these three questions:
- Which motorcycle is right for me?
- What motorcycle is the safest to ride?
- What safety features should I look for when purchasing a motorcycle?
You may be asking yourself what makes a motorcycle safe? Obviously, we know that riding a motorcycle poses much more risk than driving another type of vehicle like a truck or a car. The goal should be to reduce or limit your risk by looking for “safer” options when choosing the right motorcycle for you. Here are some things we recommend you consider when shopping for your new bike:
Height and Size (Fit) of the Motorcycle
Every rider should pay attention to comfort while riding. This is why it is important that the height and size of the motorcycle fits you properly. Here is a checklist to use to determine that the motorcycle is the correct height and fit for you:
- You are able to reach all controls easily.
- Your feet are able to touch the ground when you are standing up and stopped. Ideally, you want to be able to put both feet flat on the ground with a few inches between your feet and the motorcycle.
- You can reach the shift levers with your feet.
- NOTE: The motorcycle seat width, your inseam measurement length, and the motorcycle suspension sag under your weight while sitting on the bike will all be indicators as to whether or not the bike is a good fit.
Adjusting Your Motorcycle for a Good Fit
Sometimes the motorcycle you choose will require an upgrade to make it a good fit. An easy way to adjust the fit of your motorcycle is to change the seat. By changing the seat, it can increase the rider’s control of the bike. It can also make it easier for the rider’s feet to reach the motorcycle controls. Changing the seat can also make the bike more comfortable. Another adjustment that can be made is to the bike’s suspension. This can enhance the overall performance and make rides more enjoyable by simply adding to the existing motorcycle style.
Skill Level and Engine Size
Be realistic about your riding skill level when you are looking for a new bike. Motorcycle companies like to advertise the biggest and newest motorcycles on the market in order to grab the attention of consumers, but that does not mean those are the best choice for you as a rider. It is recommended that new riders start with a smaller engine motorcycle until their skill level improves. Also think about how the motorcycle will be used. Will you be riding it to work in the city? If so, you won’t be zipping down the highways on open road, which means you really don’t need a bike with a big engine.
There are several different types of motorcycles on the market and is designed a little differently. It is a good idea to test out different types of motorcycles before making your final decision. Here are some of the common styles that riders can choose from:
- Standard bikes – These bikes are usually the most basic motorcycle design you will find. By standard, it means they do not offer all the “bells and whistles” that other bike options have. These are more of a general-purpose street bike. There is no standard size of engine, wind screens, or fairings offered with these bikes. The ergonomics of the bike are usually neutral, and they offer limited storage space.
- Sport bikes – These are designed for agility and speed. These bikes usually are lighter in weight, which allows for the quick speed. Sport bikes are great if you plan to ride for a short amount of time, but not recommended if you plan to be sitting for a long ride because it will get very uncomfortable sitting on these bikes for a long period of time.
- Cruiser bikes – These are designed with longer rides in mind. The seats allow a rider to recline back more and Cruisers usually offer more storage space, which is ideal if you are taking a long ride.
- Touring bikes – These bikes were designed for long rides. They are the most comfortable to sit on for long periods of time and offer the most storage of any motorcycle on the market. Touring bikes also offer the most protection because they have the biggest ride screens and fairings.
- Dual-sport bikes – These bikes were designed to go anywhere! Not only do these bikes have the required features for riding on the roads (horns, lights), but they also have off-road tires and a taller suspension for this kind of riding. These bikes tend to sit more upright and there can be a range of different storage options available for these bikes.
You are probably wondering if one of these types of bikes is considered “safer” than the others, but that all depends on the rider’s skill level and preparedness for the area in which they are riding. What it all boils down to is the level of skill each rider has given the circumstances and environment. Engine size can impact safety, especially if the rider is not familiar with the power of that motorcycle.
Maintaining Your Motorcycle
One of the key factors when it comes to riding safety is motorcycle maintenance. Things that can bring extra risk to your ride are worn out tires, bad cables, bad breaks, etc. Be sure to ask and look at maintenance records if you are considering the purchase of a used motorcycle. Ask the owners of a used bike if the maintenance was done at a professional shop and if they have kept the receipts for any work done or parts purchased. You will also want to conduct your own maintenance check on a used motorcycle. Be sure to look at the condition of the tires. The tires can be a good indication of the type of maintenance done on the motorcycle. Bad tires are one of the biggest safety issues to be aware of when maintaining your bike. Take a close look at the condition of the tires and address the maintenance on tires regularly so you do not have safety issues later on.
If you recently passed your motorcycle riding course, here are some tips to consider while shopping for your first motorcycle:
- Get a motorcycle that fits your current skill level. You will want to start by getting used to riding a smaller motorcycle that is easier to handle and maneuver. As you develop your riding skills over the next year or two, then consider upgrading to a larger or newer bike.
- Start with a used motorcycle. As you are learning to ride you don’t want to worry about dings and scratches happening on your bike. Master your riding skills first on a used bike and then consider investing in something nice once you are comfortable with your skill level
- Be prepared. Both you and your bike need to be prepared to ride safely. Never ride while intoxicated or while you are tired. Riding a motorcycle requires your full attention in order to assess for risks out on the road and to maintain your safety.
Motorcycle Safety Features
The safety features on motorcycles have improved significantly over the years. Manufacturers have added new improvements to increase rider safety. Here are just a few of the more recent safety features added to motorcycles:
- LED lighting – adds more visibility
- Anti-lock brakes – the addition of ABS has shown to lower fatalities in motorcycle crashes by 43%
- Onboard diagnostics – Our cars already have onboard diagnostics, but now this feature is being added to the newer motorcycles.
- Stability control – New stability monitoring helps analyze traction and lean-angle for turning corners.
- Three-wheelers – There are many people who love riding, but no longer have the ability to handle a two-wheeled motorcycle. Three-wheel trikes are now being offered as a riding option and have gained in popularity.
Your lifestyle and personality will play a big role in making the best decision when choosing a new bike. Safety will always be a concern for both new and experienced riders. Think about the type of riding you plan to do and be sure to find a motorcycle that matches your riding style and level of skill. The goal is to find a bike that fits your safety needs and physical profile.
Be safe and protect yourself when you are out riding. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident, talk with our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at MaxPower Law. Call 425-970-9300 today and set up a free consultation.