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Safety

If you haven't already, take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Course. If you have, take the experienced course. The MSF can be reached at 800-447-4700. The CHP runs this in California, and can be reached at 800-CC-RIDER.

Random Riding Tips:

Number one: Don't drink or do drugs and ride. A motorcycle is much more demanding of its pilot than a car. It is surprising how much just a couple of beers can effect ones riding abilities.

Number two: Remember, you are invisible and everyone else is out to get you.

Number three: Get a good leather motorcycle jacket (thicker and more durable than leather dress jackets), helmet, gloves and boots. The two categories of motorcycle riders are those that have fallen and those that haven't fallen yet.

Watch the front wheel of a cage poised to come out of a driveway. It is the first thing that moves.

If you cannot avoid hitting a small object, such as a curb, release the brakes immediately before impact. This will allow the forks to extend to do their job while also aiding after-the-fact maneuverability.

John Stafford, a dog lover, adds

"never swerve to avoid small animals. Almost all dogs who charge your bike are trying to avoid you. It's their herding instinct at work. Besides, you _can_ run over a 100 pound dog without crashing if you stay straight and upright. Cats, smaller dogs, squirrels, skunks are a cinch. Run 'em over. Armadillos Never. ;-)

I know too many people who got hurt trying to avoid a small animal. Just run 'em over and live to ride another day."

If a dog is coming at you from an angle slow briefly and then accelerate to throw off the dog's attack angle.

When passing watch the cage driver's head, as most will turn their head slightly to look into the mirror before pulling into your lane.

Very basic -- learn to use the front brake more than the rear. Because of the weight distribution, it provides 70% of the braking power. Practice emergency stopping in a gravel-clear parking lot. If the rear tire locks, it is doing more harm than good and may try to pass you.

"The front brake typically gives 70% of the braking power. That doesn't mean to use it alone, because the remaining 30% is significant.

A couple of points to remember - if you squeeze the front brake too quickly, you can get into trouble by (possible) locking up the front wheel. Wait for weight to transfer. A Harley carries its weight lower than many import bikes, so there is not so much weight transfer, so the rear brake can be more effective. Related to that last, in the case of some of the "sport bikes" (street-legal race bikes) the brakes are so good and the weight is so high that in a quick stop the front wheel can be doing over 90% of the work.

Practice using both brakes together, try checking how quickly you can stop with either one alone, then check out using both. Also note how you can squeeze harder and harder on the front brake as the front suspension dives." -- the Grouch

If you think someone is going to turn left in front of you, they will. This is the most common motorcycle accident causing significant injuries. My bud has a plate in his head from T-boning a car in this manner.

Complete your braking before a turn and start to accelerate midway through.

Know your limits and your bike's, and stay on this side of those limits.

Use hand signals in heavy traffic in addition to your turn signals to increase your chances of being seen.

Drive with your high-beam on during the daytime so that cagers can see you more easily.

Ron Shaffer says that

"in addition to watching what's going on nearby, you also need to be checking up the road (the farther the better) to spot potential problems (e.g. brake lights coming on) before you're right on top of 'em. Better to act than re-act.

Also, I find it's a real good idea to try to stay out of the 'blind spots' of vehicles that are in adjacent lanes. They'll forget about you in a heartbeat (even if they saw you in the first place) & end up cutting you off (or worse)."

Ken adds:

"[Your] boots should not have leather soles, but good, gripping, oil-resistant rubber or synthetic.

Look where you want the bike to go. If you are trying to avoid something, look at the place you want to go rather than at the object.

When approaching a potentially dangerous situation [...] it can help to place another vehicle between you and the danger. For example, if you can ride through an intersection in the "shadow" of a car in the next lane, he'll be more visible than you and will also serve as a shield."