If you're getting to grips with a new motorcycle, here are five important safety tips for new motorcyclists:
Wear proper safety gear: it would be nice of we never fell off a motorcycle but it happens, and when we do we have no physical protection other than what we are wearing. Safety gear such as helmets, jackets, gloves, pants, and boots are designed to absorb impact, reduce abrasion, and minimize the risk of severe injuries. They act as a barrier between your body and the road or other objects, significantly reducing the chances of serious harm. So you should always wear a good-fitting helmet that meets safety standards, making sure it's securely fastened. Additional protective clothing like motorcycle jacket, gloves, pants, and boots offer abrasion protection, whilst body armour will absorb some of the impact from a fall.
Take training: in the UK, a new rider can ride on L plates on the barest minimum - the Compulsory Basic Training course. I've taught CBT and these courses cover the barest minimum of essential riding skills and a brief introduction to defensive riding. But they do NOT make a new rider an expert. As soon as you possibly can, book some top-up rider training - the knowledge and experienced gained on a course will significantly improve your safety on the road.
Look out for your own safety: too many riders rely on everyone around them to keep them safe, and it doesn't always work - drivers and other road users make mistakes and sometimes put us at risk. Even if you are wearing brightly colored or reflective clothing, and using day riding lights, Assume that other drivers may not see you and act accordingly.
Practice defensive riding: constantly scan the road for potential hazards such as other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and animals and be prepared to react quickly to unexpected situations such as a car suddenly changing lanes or pulling out in front of you. Keep a good distance from blind entrances, stay a safe distance from other vehicles, look as far ahead as you can to get early warning of potential problems, watch the mirrors so you know what's happening behind too, and use your signals early.
Ride within your limits: as a new motorcyclist, it's crucial to ride within your skill level and comfort zone. If you're reacting late to hazards, slow down and practice looking further ahead until you feel less rushed. Work on improving your riding skills and becoming more comfortable with your motorcycle but as you gain more experience, beware of over-confidence. Stay alert and focused on the road by avoid distractions such as using your phone or listening to music while riding.
Remember, developing good riding habits and prioritising safety from the beginning will help you build a solid foundation upon which to develop your skills as a motorcyclist.