A Motorcycle in Your Future?
Baby Boomers have changed the motorcycle market in the US because they have bought so many bikes over the past few years. If you think you will soon be joining them on the open road, here are some safety tips below for new motorcycle riders.
What would drive you to buy a motorcycle? Let’s see: Record prices at the gas pump. The thrill of the open road. The company of good friends.
The motivation behind learning to a ride a motorcycle or scooter is different for every person. However, the steps leading up to becoming a street-smart, safe rider are the same whether you’re choosing two wheels for financial, eco-conscious or just-for-fun reasons. Before deciding on your favorite brand of two-wheeler, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company suggests the following:
Get legal. Obtaining a learner’s permit from your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office is the first step to learning how to ride. Laws vary, but most states issue a permit after you pass a written test on road safety. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found 25 percent of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes in 2006 were operating their vehicles with invalid licenses at the time of the collision, so proper licensing and training is crucial to your safety.
Learn from the pros. From cornering technique to accident avoidance, a safety course teaches the fundamentals of riding. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (www.msf-usa.org) is a good resource for locating a class in your city. Keep in mind classes are popular and fill up quickly, so register early. Again, laws vary, but in most states you must pass a safety course before receiving an unrestricted motorcycle license.
Make the perfect match. Don’t let your eyes or emotions mislead you. Visit your local dealership and discuss your riding plans and needs before signing the sales contract. Try bikes with different riding positions -- café racer styles may look cool, but aren’t designed for comfort if you plan on riding long distances. Sit in the saddle and check out the practical aspects, such as making sure both of your feet can easily rest on the ground and if the mirrors provide a good view of what’s behind you.
Understand power isn’t everything. The modern motorcycle and scooter are blessed with an abundance of technology -- including more horsepower and top speeds than a street rider will ever need. All that power requires precision control and expertise -- so entry level riders may want to spend their first few thousand miles on a small or mid-size machine. Many websites and magazines have information outlining the different types of motorcycles and the benefits and drawbacks, of each. Two good resources are www.ama-cycle.org and www.motorcycles.org.
Buy great gear. Proper gear, including a DOT approved helmet, face and eye protection, gloves, boots, jacket and pants, will help keep you safe on the road and protect you from the elements. Even in hot climates, vented jackets with protective inserts are an excellent idea -- riding in a T-shirt won’t prevent road rash or potential injury from flying debris or an errant bee. Good riding boots will protect you from road debris and hot exhaust pipes, while gloves improve your grip. Choose bright colors and reflective materials for your clothing, so other motorists will see you on the road.
Get a quote before you buy. Find out annual insurance costs before you sign on the dotted line. Many motorcycles cost as much as a car, and your premiums will vary accordingly. Buying a custom, or adding extra accessories like carbon fiber exhaust systems? Talk to your local motorcycle insurance specialist about special levels of coverage that will protect these extra assets.
Enjoy the community. The riding community is diverse: there’s a club for literally every brand of bike or scooter. Riding will introduce you to some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet -- from every walk of life and professional level, all united by their passion for two wheels. Enjoy!
Information provided by the Natiolwide Mutual Insurance Company. To learn more about motorcycle insurance or to find an agent, visit www.nationwide.com.
Nationwide, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the world, with more than $161 billion in assets. Nationwide ranks #108 on the Fortune 500 list. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, life, commercial insurance, administrative services, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and health and productivity services. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.