If you decide to carry a child, make sure the child can handle the responsibilities, and reach the footrests. They must wear a helmet and other protective gear and hold onto you or the passenger hand-holds.
Remember that the extra weight from a passenger can affect braking procedures, starting from a stop, and riding through a corner.
Start the motorcycle before the passenger mounts.What Car and Truck Drivers Should Know About Motorcycles
When a motorcycle is in motion, don't think of it as a motorcycle; think of it as a person.
Motorcycles can be hard to spot, so always make sure you look out for them, especially at intersections.
A motorcycle may look farther away than it is because of its small size. Assume that a motorcycle is closer than it looks.
Bikers often slow down by downshifting or rolling off the throttle and don't activate a brake light. Therefore, you should allow three or four seconds of following distance and predict that a biker may slow down without visual warning.
Bikers often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to stray clear of road debris, passing cars, and wind. Understand that these position shifts aren't to be reckless or to allow you to share a lane with them.
Bikers' Legal Responsibilities
Obtain a license. It has been estimated that one-third of bikers killed in crashes aren't licensed or are improperly licensed. State licensing agencies make sure that motorcycle operators have the skills needed to safely operate a motorcycle.
Know your state's helmet laws.
Make sure you get insurance coverage. Most states require liability insurance.
Don't speed. In 2007, 36 percent of all fatal motorcycle crashes involved speeding.
Never drink alcohol and get on a motorcycle. In 2007, 27 percent of bikers involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit.
Motorcycle Riding Gear
Helmet - Make sure your helmet has a sticker indicating DOT (Department of Transportation) compliance. This means that the helmet meets certain basic impact standards.
Eye Protection - Make sure your eye protection is clean and unscratched. If your lenses are tinted, also take some that are clear in case you ride at night.
Pants and jackets should be made of thick material, such as leather, to resist abrasion.
Gloves should be worn at all times to prevent any injury to hands or fingers.
Wear over-the-ankle boots made of strong leather to protect your ankles. Also, make sure your boots have rubber soles and a good tread design for easy gripping.
Wear high visibility gear like bright and reflective clothing.
Before You Ride
Read the owner's manual so that you understand how to operate and maintain your bike.
Check the tires for cuts, foreign objects, and pressure.
Check the following parts:
Controls for kinks or stiffness
Lights, turn signals, horn, and mirrors
Oil, fuel, and coolant levels
Sidestand and centerstand
Carrying a Passenger on Your Motorcycle
Be aware that some states have minimum age requirements for motorcycle passengers.
Review your owner's manual for tips on preparing for riding with a passenger.
Before riding, practice low-speed clutch/throttle control and normal and emergency braking in an open area, like a parking lot, with a passenger.
Before heading out, hold a riders' meeting and discuss the route, stops, hand signals, and what to do if there's an emergency or if someone is separated from the group.
At least one rider in each group should have a cell phone, first-aid kit, and full tool kit.
To allow for enough time and space for maneuvering and reacting to hazards, it's important to ride in formation.
Do not ride in side-by-side formations because they reduce the space cushion.
From time to time, check the riders following in your rear view mirror.
Follow your bike's regular service schedule that's listed in the owner's manual and have these inspections done by an authorized dealer.
Check your battery once a month and make sure that the fluid level is correct.
Always take your tool kit with you when you ride.
Your owner's manual can tell you what to do in emergency situations, so make sure it's always with the bike.
On the Road
Always be on the lookout for potential hazards, especially at intersections.
Keep your eyes moving. If they are locked on one thing for more than two seconds, you may not notice a potential hazard.
Make sure other drivers see you.
Your headlamps should be on (even during the day), wear bright clothes, and always signal your intentions.
Use your horn to make people aware of your presence.
Position your bike where it can be seen.
When you're riding in traffic at speeds under 40 mph, keep a two-second gap between you and the car in front of you.
If you're traveling at higher speeds, the gap should be at least three or four seconds.
You should be at least two seconds behind the vehicle you want to pass.
Always turn and check your blind spot with your head.
Don't try to overtake another vehicle if a corner is coming up.
Dusk is actually the most dangerous time to ride, because people's eyes are adjusting from daylight to headlights.
The distance between you and the vehicle in front of you becomes even more important as it gets darker.
Wear a clear faceshield without scratches. A scratch can create confusing light refractions.