If you’ve taken a rider education course in the United States, chances are that you used the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) curriculum, which is based on decades of research, study and practical experience.
The MSF is a non-profit organization dedicated to rider training, education and improving rider safety. And Dr. Ray Ochs is the Director of Training Systems for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation who provides some excellent “Tips of the Day”.
He offers you quick tips, tactics and techniques that you can combine with the essential motorcycle safety precautions that you already should take on every ride.
He also provides suggestions on motorcycle rider comfort, because if you’re not comfortable on the bike, you’ll be distracted from what you need to be doing.
Below are some of Dr. Ray’s motorcycle riding tips:
- When you’re riding motorcycles at night, flash your brake light often when stopped. It’s more noticeable than a steady light.
- While riding motorcycles at night, wild animals are more likely to be roaming the highway, especially during the spring and fall. Be alert.
- What’s the most important prerequisite of safe motorcycling? Your brain as mental preparation is essential to managing risk when riding.
- Use the FINE-C acronym for the pre-start checklist before every single motorcycle ride: Fuel, Ignition, Neutral, Engine Cut-Off Switch, Choke & Clutch.
- Weighting the inside foot peg helps turn your motorcycle into the corner.
- When cornering, don’t let your eyes linger. Jump them to what’s next and any possible hazards. Keep eyes up, look thru the entire corner.
- Practice hard stops, when and where it’s safe. If you ride your motorcycle with passengers, practice w/them, tell them to hold on tight.
- The front brake has the most stopping power. To shorten stopping distances, develop a good feel for using your rear brake also.
- Sportbike riders should get used to using core muscles and legs. Grip the tank with your thighs. This takes pressure off your wrists and handlebars.
- Don’t tense up. Keep elbows relaxed and slightly bent. Use light grip on the bars, let steering do its job, not fight it
- The friction zone is your friend, the area of clutch-lever travel where the clutch starts to transmit power to the rear wheel.
- The best motorcycle riders control their bikes to within six inches of their desired line, every mile and every curve of every ride.
- Get your eyes and mind ahead of your motorcycle.
- The front tire of a sportbike can handle braking loads even when leaned over, but not abrupt braking loads. Words to live by: Load the tire before you work the tire.
- Learn to smoothly squeeze your front brake lever. Practice smooth braking even while rolling your motorcycle out of the garage, so the skill is there in an emergency.
- Be smooth whenever you are moving around on the bike. Aggressive, abrupt body movements can be as wrong as grabbing the brakes.
- Keep your eyes level with the horizon while cornering to keep from getting disoriented.
- Adjust all levers and pedals so they’re easy to reach and operate.
- Select motorcycle gear that makes you more conspicuous both day and night. Replace your motorcycle helmet periodically.
- Make your first ride your best ride. Take the MSF Basic RiderCourse. Find a course at msf-usa.org.