What’s going on my friends?
I’m writing this for new riders, as anyone with time on the road will know these things by heart. Feel free to close the tab if you already ride, or just hang around for the heck of it.
Today, while filling up at the gas station, I noticed the odometer has ticked past 5000 miles since rolling away from the moto shop. It flew by, and the only time the odometer received much attention was at 3k for an oil change.
1.The Exhaust Pipes Are Hot(Hotter Than You Think)
And not just kinda warm, I mean blazing hot, and will incinerate anything on contact, mainly your leg. Few riders get away without a burn mark on the calf. Even being careful to never brush the pipes, I got my burn walking the bike down the side of the road after a flat tire. Happened so fast, I didn’t even realize I burned myself. Pants may or may not help. Riding pants with leather or thicker fabric will, but hiking pants and even jeans may fail you.
2. Check Your Tire Pressure
Keeping up with the PSI has two benefits. First, you will have even wear on your tires, which will be used up as designed to be, saving you money. Second, you can identify slow leaks early, instead of finding out when your tire resembles Pac-Man. Keeping a small pen pressure gauge in the jacket pocket is an easy way to check pressure, as noted in the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance“
3. A Smooth Shift is a Fast Shift
Shifting gears may cause anxiety for new riders, especially if you don’t drive manual. It’s a skill which develops quickly, and over time you will know which gear fits the road speed vs RPM. The quicker you shift up through the gears, the faster you will get up to highway speed, and shifting smoothly will become shifting quickly. As a general rule, you want to avoid chugging the engine, and it is much better to over-rev than to make the engine struggle.
4. Mind Your Turn Signals
Some newer bikes have auto-off turn signals, and there are kits available, however if you are in the big club of manual off switch, your turn signal will stay on until you switch it off. It’s easy to forget while you are monitoring traffic and road conditions while turning and shifting gears. This isn’t much of an issue at night time, when the blinking light will remind you. It’s when the blinker is dim in sunlight, that many riders forget. To remedy this, I find myself pressing the turn signal off switch randomly every now and then just to make sure, and it’s worked well so far. Not sure if the blinker is still on or not? Just mash that button a few times, and there’s no need to even look.
5. Turning Can Get Interesting
If you are riding a cruiser style bike, your turn radius may be wider than you expect, especially if you don’t force a lean and counter-weight the bike. The opposite is true with a sport bike, which tends to turn too sharply. I’ve ended up on the sidewalk a few times after mis-judging speed and angle of the turn. This gets a lot easier as you learn the bike, and even easier as you learn the local roads. Expect a wider turn radius with a passenger due to the increased weight and reduced ability to lean. Riding with a passenger can be great, if they lean with you, otherwise it’s on you to muscle the bike around the corner.
6. Gear and Accessories Are Important
Unlike a car, a motorcycle doesn’t come all set to ride. Sure, you could hop on with a t-shirt and sunglasses, however your experience will suffer. A quality helmet is a must have, not just for keeping your brains where they belong, but for comfort. The helmet can’t be too heavy, oddly shaped causing drag, or uncomfortable. You may or may not want a tinted visor. A high-vis color is preferred for visibility in traffic. A good jacked should have CE armor and flow a good amount of air, while not being too bulky.
I’m using the word comfortable a lot, and this is because small discomforts become big discomforts, the longer the ride.
A Bluetooth headset is something to think about. A USB charger and mount for a phone/GPS is a must. The right pair of gloves for a combination of protection and grip is important, as your hands hit first during a crash(operative T will tell ya).
A backpack or a set of saddle bags is essential for the commuters. Windshields, speakers, LED lights, it’s all available. The accessories make or break the experience and each set up is unique and for each rider.
6. You Need Protection From The Elements
For a while after purchase, my motorcycle was stored outside, and I would use a cover to protect it from the sun and rain. This worked well enough, the main drawback being the cover was long, and I had to wait for the pipes to cool down before covering the bike. One day, a bit of the cover melted on the pipe because I got impatient. This is, of course, a minor draw back and 100% user error.
I eventually upgraded to a small garage, because seeing the bike outside in the rain made me sad.
It’s a luxury for sure, and costs extra every month, but hey, no rain, no sun, no bugs. Well worth it for the longevity of the bike to store it in a garage.
That wraps it up for this post and what the last 5000 miles taught me. Hopefully this will give some early insight to new riders.
Until Next Time, and
All the Best.