It’s just like riding a bike right? Well, yes, obviously. But also no, not exactly. Statistics show that motorcyclists who have taken a long break and then returned to the saddle are at a higher risk of having a collision.
If you are one of these “born-again bikers”, firstly, welcome back! Secondly, you need to know things are a little different out there now.
You, the roads, the other motorists and especially the motorbike technology have all changed quite a bit since you have been away. Whilst some things will be very familiar, others will be very new.
Below we take a quick look at a few of the most important things returning riders should keep in mind to ensure their safety and importantly that of others.
The roads are busier
It’s funny, right? They keep building new roads but it just keeps getting busier and busier out there.
If you’ve been off the road completely or cocooned in the bosom of your car for a while you will probably have just grown accustomed to it. If, however, you are getting back on your motorbike after a long hiatus the tendency is to try and ride exactly how you used to.
This would be a big mistake, there is a hell of a lot more cars out there now and due to improvements in road design, the average speed of vehicles has risen too. It’s a new world out there, so ease your way back into it.
Maybe in your younger years, you were a fearless speed demon with a crashless record no matter how many risky overtakes you took on. While the young you may have had reactions akin to Bruce Lee. Guess what? You aren’t the young you anymore. And like any skill, if you don’t keep up a regular practice you won’t be as sharp as you once were.
So, take heed. If you are getting back on your mothballed bike after a few years off, or you’re in the process of buying a new bike after many years of car driving, it’s a good idea to take it slow and steady for a while. There is no shame in sticking to short neighbourhood rides during very off-peak times of the day for a while. Just until you get your mojo back!
Get into shape first
You probably didn’t think about this too much when you were a younger buck in peak physical condition but riding a bike requires a certain level of fitness and flexibility. This is especially true if you hope to get back into doing longer rides and even multi-day tours.
This is something we often talk about over on RoadRacerz.com, that the fitter you are physically the better rider you will be. If you are out of shape then you will tire easily and your reflexes will suffer as a result. Hit the gym, do a bit of yoga or just swim.
Get a check-up
As the cruel passage of time takes its toll on all of us, certain things such as our sight and hearing start to deteriorate.
When driving a two-wheeled vehicle the margins for error, and therefore disaster, are much slimmer. Taking care of poor eyesight and poor hearing is, of course, important for drivers of all vehicles but they are especially important for motorcyclists.
Get yourself a hearing test and an eye test before you get back on that bike. A new pair of glasses or just an updated prescription could save your life.
Choose an appropriate bike
Returning bikers tend to be a little bit more financially secure than younger riders and this is often reflected in the machines they purchase. Sure, you’ve worked hard and you’ve earned the right to finally buy that badass chrome-plated hog you’ve dreamt about for years, but ask yourself do you really need that much horsepower?
A bike that is too powerful, too tall or just too big can, ruin a returning rider’s fun and quickly erode their confidence. It’s much better to get a smaller, more manageable bike, and ease your way back into life on two-wheels. Then you can always upgrade at a later date.
Take refresher lessons
School is important. You’ve probably said that to your own little ones a thousand times as they have grown up. Well, now it’s time to practice what you preach. A lot has changed in motorcycle technology since the good old days. Two things that catch a lot of returning riders out is the increased acceleration and braking power.
Old myths such as “avoiding the front brake” and “lay the bike down” have been superseded by the improvement of anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and much grippier tyres. Now it’s almost always better to brake as quickly as possible or swerve to avoid collisions. If you have never used ABS before there is a learning curve and the best way to get proficient safely is to take some refresher lessons.
Well, there you have it six things to keep in mind before getting back on your bike. Returning to biking is incredibly rewarding, and there is no better way to spend your free hours than hitting the highways but remember you’re not as young as you once were. Ride safe!
Written by Jordan Russell, Editor of RoadRacerz.com