You’re the proud owner of a brand new (or at least new to you) motorcycle. But you’re not ready to hit the road just yet! Before you can take your bike out for a ride, you need these five things to stay safe and legal on the road.
1. Motorcycle Insurance
Even if you have a top-of-the-line automobile insurance policy, it won’t cover your motorcycle. If you get in an accident without motorcycle insurance, you’ll have to pay damages and medical expenses out of your own pocket and may even lose your license.
Most states have minimum coverage requirements for motorcycle insurance. However, your state’s minimum isn’t necessarily adequate coverage. Look for auto insurance policies with adequate coverage in these areas:
- Liability insurance: Property damage liability covers damage to another person’s vehicle, while bodily injury liability covers the other driver’s medical bills. If you plan to ride with a passenger, add passenger liability coverage.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: This coverage protects you in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. You need two types: bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage.
- Collision and comprehensive coverage: Collision covers damage to your motorcycle when you’re in an accident with another driver, regardless of who is at fault. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage from other causes, such as theft, vandalism, or hitting a deer.
- Medical payments and personal injury protection: These coverage options pay medical bills for you and your passengers in an accident. They’re a smart choice if you can’t afford medical bills out-of-pocket before hitting your deductible.
2. A Motorcycle License
All 50 states have specific licensing requirements for motorcyclists. Some states require a separate motorcycle license while others require a motorcycle endorsement on a driver’s license. Many states also mandate motorcycle training and testing before issuing a motorcycle license or endorsement, which brings us to the next thing you need ...
3. Motorcycle Safety Education
Even if your state doesn’t require it, it’s a good idea to take motorcycle lessons before hitting the road. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is the leading source for motorcyclist education. Start with the Basic RiderCourse, which uses classroom-style instruction and hands-on riding experience to teach the fundamentals of operating a motorcycle. Since MSF provides motorcycles and safety equipment for students, you can take this class before buying a bike. MSF also offers advanced lessons for experienced riders.
4. Personal Safety Equipment
Every motorcyclist should wear safety equipment, but especially beginners. A helmet is undoubtedly the most important piece of safety gear you can wear. Your helmet protects against head and facial injuries injuries in an accident. At minimum, motorcycle helmets should be DOT-certified. For higher safety standards, look for helmets certified by the Snell Memorial Foundation.
In addition to a helmet, riders should wear a motorcycle jacket and pants, gloves, and motorcycle boots. Motorcyclists who want to go above and beyond with personal safety can add a motorcycle suit, body armor, and ear and eye protection to their kit. Learn more about motorcycle gear here.
5. A Pre-Ride Inspection
There’s one final thing you need before taking your motorcycle out for its first ride: a thorough inspection. T-CLOCS is the acronym riders should remember when inspecting their bike. T-CLOCS stands for:
- T: Tires and wheels
- C: Controls
- L: Lights and electrics
- O: Oils and other fluids
- C: Chassis
- S: Stands
Clutch & Chrome explains how to perform a T-CLOCS inspection before taking your motorcycle out for the first time.
Finally, make sure you get plenty of practice before taking your new motorcycle out on busy roads. Drivers are unpredictable and don’t always notice motorcyclists in their path. By honing your maneuvering skills and practicing defensive driving, you can stay safe and enjoy the ride.
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