H_D Safety blog

As all Harley-Davidson fans know, there’s no feeling more liberating than cruising down the open road on a motorcycle. But even the most hard-core, experienced riders were novices once upon a time, and the learning curve is different for each rider.

We love seeing motorcycle newcomers get on their first Harley-Davidson models, but we want to make sure they stay safe. With that in mind, here are five tips every new riders should make note of – and every Harley veteran should keep in mind, too.

Use caution around cars

As this piece from ConsumerReports.org notes, a recent study by the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research discovered that in collisions involving a car and a motorcycle, car drivers are at fault 60 percent of the time. It might be tempting to zoom in and out of traffic, but all riders – and especially new motorcyclists – are best off leaving plenty of space between their bikes and the surrounding traffic. Tailgating is also especially dangerous, as it can leave you with little time to respond to road hazards that cars don’t need to avoid.

Keep your head on a swivel

We hinted at this above, but it’s worth repeating: Obstacles that cars can tackle with ease can present major problems for motorcycle riders. Sand, wet leaves, uneven gravel, pebbles, potholes … anything that can cause you to lose traction or suddenly alter the course of your bike is inherently dangerous. Make sure to keep an eye out for any- and everything in front of you on the road. If you do find yourself running over a slick surface, try to keep your Harley as upright as possible.

Err on the side of ABS

Anti-lock brakes prevent riders from losing steering control during panic stops, when their wheels have the potential to lock up. ABS is especially important in New Hampshire, as it’s great to have in slippery conditions. Many Harley-Davidson models come with standard ABS, but it may be worth it for new drivers to seek ABS as an available feature on models with regular brakes. You’re likely to make some of the money back in insurance, anyway.

When the weather outside is frightful

This one is especially relevant to the Harley lovers we serve at our New Hampshire Harley-Davidson dealership, as the fickle New England weather can mess with any rider’s plans. Mother Nature can be unpredictable, but look at forecasts and do your best to stay off the road in rainy, windy or icy conditions, especially if you’re a new driver. If you do get caught in inclement weather, don’t go too hard on the gas or the brakes, and leave plenty of space between you and other drivers to protect yourself from minor loss of traction or gusts of wind.

Practice makes perfect

While the practices above will all keep you safer on the road, the best way to learn as you embark on your life as a motorcycle rider is to gain experience through practice. Motorcycle safety training courses are offered throughout the country and range from beginner courses to advanced technique training and everything in between. Harley-Davidson offers a wide range of courses designed for every level, as well as some free offerings for newer riders. Completing one of these courses could give you a discount on insurance, but more importantly, it will better prepare you for the inevitable bumps in the road you’ll face on your bike.

With great power comes great responsibility, so keep these tips in mind as you begin on your journey with your Harley. Soon enough, these practices will become second nature and you’ll be tackling the open road with the best of them.