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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

You Are Still Invisible

Every 3.5 years (we are a little late), we re-publish the “Being Invisible” article first published on MD on Janaury 28, 2007.  Feel free to comment if you have other suggestions, or simply disagree with our thoughts on how to stay safe.  Note that the article was not meant to adress gear (helmet, jacket, boots, etc.)

I went street bike riding with my youngest son (now 17) the other day. Although he has been riding dirt bikes since he was 4, this was his first time on a street bike. Before we took off, I had to give him my little speech about how to stay safe.

My speech is probably not too unique. Nevertheless, I thought someone out there might benefit from hearing my “cardinal rule”. On the street, you are invisible. You must always be aware that you are invisible.

Never assume that automobile drivers see you. If an automobile is in a position to hit you, plan an escape path in advance. Try to make eye contact with the driver, if possible.

In the day time, ride with your high beam on. Scan ahead, and take in as much relevant information as you can. Be aware of every car that might turn into your path, and particularly aware of a few common, dangerous situations.

If you are traveling down the road and there is an automobile in the left turn lane facing you, slow down a bit, cover your brake and plan an escape route. It isn’t uncommon for an automobile to turn left in front of a motorcyclist, and the results can be fatal. Once again, try to make eye contact with the driver, and even move to the right of a single-lane road or the right lane of a multi-lane road — giving you a bit more time to react.

Do not rocket away from a stop light when it turns green. Make sure you look for cars that might be traveling through the intersection trying to make that fading yellow light.

Don’t ride in the blind spot of an automobile in an adjacent lane, unless you are moving through that blind spot. You may be “invisible”, but give yourself a chance to be seen.

Dogs and other animals (even small cats) can make an automobile driver sad in a collision. These animals can cause a motorcyclist to crash. Be alert for dogs and other small animals when you see them in a position to cross your path.

Motorcycles are very fast. They accelerate much quicker than most automobiles. New riders have frequent trouble entering corners too quickly. Their entry speed surprises them, and they are not comfortable leaning the motorcycle enough to complete the corner. Instead, they stand the motorcycle up and go straight off the road (or into oncoming traffic). New riders should be conservative about their corner entry speed and get all of their braking done before leaning the bike into the corner.

Pay close attention to road surface conditions. New riders may assume they will always have traction (automobiles do most of the time). Gravel, dampness, and even leaves have been known to cause motorcyclists to lose traction mid-corner, or while accelerating too hard or getting on the brakes too hard. Particularly when entering blind corners, you should be scanning ahead for road surface conditions and traction issues.

Whenever possible, learn how to ride a motorcycle in the dirt (everyone in my family did). You should be intimately familiar with the basic motorcycle controls before riding on the street. Use of the clutch, the gear shift lever and the brakes should be intuitive. You will have more than enough to think about without learning how to use these controls on a busy highway.

These are just some of my thoughts on street safety. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of things new riders should be concerned with, and it was not my intent to even discuss safety gear (helmet, gloves, boots, etc.). I have to recommend here that new riders consider taking a formal course on safety, such as one given by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Some states require these courses for new riders, particularly young ones.

Finally, don’t forget . . . you are invisible.


  1. Dave says:

    Two rules to guard yourself against 75% of motorcycle mishaps.

    First, never ride after consuming alcohol. In 2008, of those dead Minnesota motorcyclists who were tested for blood-alcohol content after dying in a crash, 47% tested positive for alcohol. No, it wasn’t “just one beer,” 42% tested over 0.08.

    Second, never ride above your skills. In 2008, only 40% of the injuries and 45% of the deaths were in collisions with other vehicles. Over half of the wrecks were single vehicle incidents; running off the road, hitting some non-moving object, striking a deer, etc. Please, do not try to tell me that they were all driven into the ditch by cars.

    Obviously there is some overlap between the two statistics, but I figure that about three quarters of all our “accidents” were not accidental, we did it to ourselves.

    One last statistic. In 2008, 38 of the total 72 Minnesota motorcyclist fatalities occurred in a location where the city or township had a population of less than 1,000. That is, over half of the deaths happened in an area where it is pretty unlikely that other traffic was a contributing factor.

    I’ll say it again, we are killing ourselves.

    Now you can resume discussion about eye contact.


    • Justin says:

      “In crashes that do involve another motor vehicle, the reporting officers more often associate contributing factors with the other driver than with the motorcyclist.”

      For those of us who already understand that ‘Shiny Side UP’ is the first rule, this is still a relevant topic of conversation.

  2. Chad says:

    High beams do help. Ås long as they are set right, they won’t piss off drivers, but they well be noticeably brighter than the run of the mill headlight. Aim it right, and it might help save your skin.

  3. Steve says:

    The best addition to my safety equipment has been a modulating headlight. Some cage drivers are annoyed when it’s flashing in their rearview mirror (don’t care), some flash their headlights at me when coming in the opposite direction (means they saw it), some pull over and get out of my way (not a bad thing either). Most importantly, they will stop dead in their tracks from the right or left side of the road when they see the flashing light, giving them the split second OPPORTUNITY to recognize it’s a motorcycle. I highly recommend them. The entertainment of watching people’s reaction to it is a fringe benefit!

  4. JonL (Australia) says:

    I find riding assertively in traffic makes a difference (not aggressively – big difference). Drivers seem to notice you a little quicker. Headlight on low beam only! Every biker that I see riding high beam, I feel like pulling out in front of (when I’m in the Van)- that is, if I can actually see where I’m going – I’ve been temporarily flash blinded several times by arrogant twats running enough candlepower to melt your eyeballs whilst claiming to be riding safe! – apart from the fact it is actually illegal in most countries!

  5. bob says:


    The acronym is SIPDE and represents a good mental discipline to follow whilst riding in the real world. I find that actively thinking this way makes it easier to predict more than two seconds in advance of what is going to happen to me. I learned this in my MSF training in 1988. Old stuff like that is no longer in anyone’s curriculum, probably because it’s old stuff. Too bad.

    One other thought: You’ll do better in the bike if you’re emotionally centered and physically alert. I suppose it would be politically incorrect to say any more about that one.

  6. motorcycle5 says:

    Everyone has mentioned the most obvious things already. As long as someone follows those and consciously decides to always keep learning (on the bike), then motorcycles are worth the trade off in vulnerability. Personally I find the advances in riding you get from the track are crucial. Technique-wise, track days make me feel like I always have a loaded .45 up my sleeve in traffic. Car drivers can still be idiots, but I wont let them ‘get’ me. No way.

  7. Norm G. says:

    I second mike’s comment about being aware of what’s behind you lest you get “arse-packed”. ironically there’s a 4 lane stretch of road very near to my home that’s got all the makings for this very situation. it’s 45 or 50 mph posted (read 55-60 in reality) and has no dedicated turning lane to get off it. to access businesses along this stretch of road, you basically STOP in the middle of fast moving traffic to make a left turn to crossover 2 lanes of ON-COMING traffic.

    that condition in and of itself isn’t ironic. what’s ironic is the business that’s in the WORST position along this road is a long standing honda/yamaha dealership. ie. it sees a HUGE amount of motorcycle traffic. coming from the east…? no problem. coming from the west…? “deathtrap”. 🙁 i’ll give you one guess which direction I live in.

  8. marc says:

    I ride in a country with great roads but poor discipline from cage drivers. Drivers routinely jump red lights, change lanes without indicating, tail gate bikes, talk on their mobile, etc etc. I’ve been applying this principal for more than 15 years, and have only fallen off when I’ve done something dumb. Reading it here is great – beleive it -it works! Marc, Cape Town, RSA

  9. navek says:

    I have been riding since 1963 both in Europe and the USA and the thing I would most like to alter in American riders is their insistence on using only the rear brake. It does not bear thinking about all the heartache and tragedy that could have been avoided by the simple expedient of using all of a bikes braking power. I live in rural Maine and am reminded everyday about this poor braking technique as I pass an accident spot where a young guy had a car pull out in front of him. He stood on the rear brake dropped the bike and slid underneath the vehicle. The catalytic converter on the vehicle burned a hole in his chest and he died in agony. I was unfortunate enough to come across the accident soon after it had happened and didn’t ride for sometime after as the memory was too harrowing. If you are one of those folk who think the rear brake is the weapon of choice to stop your bike think about my tale and please learn to use both brakes.

  10. Player says:

    I forgot to add something important.

    When doing wheelies (even small ones under heavy acceleration), your light will beam too high for anyone to see you AND YOU WILL BE INVISIBLE.

    vroom vroom

  11. ibAdam says:

    Riding with your high beams on isn’t safe. Drivers can’t look directly at you as you approach. If you really want to get their attention with your head light get a D.O.T. approved oscillating head light for day time riding.

  12. Richard says:

    My dad taught me the two rules of street riding

    1) No one can see you

    2) If they could see you, they would try to hit you.

    If you remember these two things and always ride with them in mind you will be a much safer rider. I learned those two rules 24 years ago and they have served me well.


  13. Marcus says:

    1) Eye contact means NOTHING! They’ll look right at you and right through you. Its a matter of perception – when they see the big 18 wheeler behind you closing down and decide its cut across now or lose the opportunity, they’re going to see the 18 wheeler and not you. Its the monkey walking behind the basketball players perception thing. People see what they’re looking for and they aren’t looking for motorcyclists (generally). Please, please, please – drop the eye contact. Less than worthless since it gives a false sense of security. The only safe assumption – they’re out to kill you! Ride like you expect them to try and be pleasantly surprised if they don’t.

    2) High beams during the day. Increased conspicuity at what cost? Pissing off tons of automobile drivers. After getting a splitting headache from some a$$hat riding behind my car with their aftermarket highbeams burning a hole in my head, I decided it was better to be a nice citizen of the road and run lowbeams during the day. Gave up the headlight modulator for the same reason – got me noticed but the cost of pissing off the other drivers was more than I cared for. Now I do what I can to be noticeable (bright yellow neon vest, retroflective tape, etc.), but assume that its my responsibility to see the dangers and avoid them. Loud pipes, bright lights… some argue they work, but while others may debate the efficacy I believe the damage to the public perception is not worth it. If you still believe that highbeams (and the loud pipe mythology) are a good idea, why not do it in all the vehicles you operate? Run high beams on your automobile to be noticed more. After all, none of us wants to be in an accident.

  14. Kentucky Garrett says:

    This article saved my life (or at least, a few perforated organs).

    I didn’t have a dad to tell me how to ride; my father was against my riding altogether when I first began riding on the street (about 4 years ago). I read this article, “ride like you’re invisible” became my mental mantra under my helmet. It really changed my riding style. The first time I had a chick in a mustang pull out in front of me, I knew it would be my mantra forever.

    Thanks for the great advice.

  15. Mike says:

    You are all dead.

    Not one of you, not even the writer of the article mentioned monitoring your rear view
    mirrors to be aware of what is moving up on you from behind.

    Jerrel gets a thumbs up because of his thoughts of how milliseconds can make a difference especially when you translate those milliseconds to distance covered at say 60mph.

    And remember to be aware of what is coming from behind.

    • Gabe says:

      Good point, but keep in mind less than 5 percent of motorcycles involved in multi-vehicle collisions were hit from behind.

      • Michael says:

        Plus, many of us are not dead after decades of riding, and looking ALL AROUND.

        Because the posters forgot to mention it, doesn’t mean they aren’t doing it.

        (Especially helpful approching traffic lights, as many drivers are inclined to run red lights!)

  16. Michael says:

    Being visible is everything!

    I have a Roadcrafter one-piece suit I wear while riding back and forth to work.
    Mine is the high-vis yellow. You can see me from space!

    Learn to ignore the “Are you an Asronaut” comments or have fun with it. Today I answered a co-worker (who won’t ride if it is under 75 degrees) that yes, I am an Astronaut, and I have come back from Mars to show Earthlings how practical motorcycles can be!

  17. monsterduc1000 says:

    I say ditch the highbeams. As a motorcyclist I find it very annoying and unnecessary. If you feel your regular lights are inadequate, go get a higher output front light. They are fairly inexpensive and easy to switch out.

    I would also say add some aftermarket exhaust pipes. Noise can make others more aware of your presence as well. And the bike will sound MUCH better (to me anyway).

    • Randy Singer says:

      >>I would also say add some aftermarket exhaust pipes. Noise can make others more aware of your >>presence as well. And the bike will sound MUCH better (to me anyway).

      Loud exhaust pipes annoy neighbors and other motorists. Loud pipes are anti-social. Some motorists may even subconsciously try to run you over because you are anti-social. Annoying neighbors and other motorists (which outnumber motorcyclists vastly) not only makes all motorcyclists look bad, but, since you have annoyed the majority, it puts motorcycles on legislators’ radar, leading to restrictive laws that are a detriment to all motorcyclists.

      Instead I suggest that you wear brightly colored safety gear, ride defensively, and mount and use a good (loud) horn to be heard only when you need to be heard.

      Please don’t ruin things for all motorcyclists everywhere.

    • LOUDNOISES says:

      Not much difference between high beams and a brighter low beam. Probably not worth investing in a headlight upgrade unless you need better nighttime illumination. Be seen by wearing bright colors like hi-viz lime.

      My experience doesn’t agree with loud pipes as a solution. Without a doubt the driver will know you are nearby but in many urban situations, echoes off buildings make it difficult or impossible to locate which direction you are coming from.

      Whether it is a bright light or a loud noise, you don’t want to induce panic in drivers and increasing the chance they may react unpredictably.

      • monsterduc1000 says:

        Major difference between high beams and higher output low beams. High beams are pointed HIGHER and invade a persons line of sight much more when pointed at you where higher output low beams are still pointed lower. I drive the highway lots due to my work and nothing is more annoying than some dolt with their highbeams on during the day. I flash my high beams at them until they pass just to give them a little taste of how ridiculous it is. As for higher ouput low beams, they never bother me as they are not pointed directly at my face.

        As for aftermarket pipes, you don’t have to get ear splitters. There are lots of options that only increase the decibels a small amount, but still make your presence known. As for anti-social, I have lost count at how many people have come over told me they love the sound of either one of my bikes. Doesn’t sound very anti-social to me.

    • Ruefus says:

      Loud pipes is a lie perpetuated with virtually zero proof. What does exist is anecdotal, and that’s being kind.

      Anyone that puts any stock in the reliability of a loud pipe ‘improving’ a situation is letting their guard down.

      Have a buddy on a loud motorcycle drive behind you. Even with the windows down, you aren’t hearing JACK until the bike is RIGHT up on you and it’s too late. You can hear him for a long way if he’s in front of you, but so what? #1 killer of riders – left turning motorists. If the pipes pointed forward, there *might* be an argument.

      Riders are NOT seen. I was on a KTM – bright orange. Riding on a clear day, on level ground with sight lines for at least half a mile. Two lane road, 4-way intersection, speed limit 55. I stand at the intersection on occasion and wonder “How?”

      he S10 turned into me as if I weren’t there – and so late that there was nothing to do. POW. For 24 hours he thought he’d killed me.

      Arai, Sidi, Alpinestars, Aerostich and mostly the Grace of God allowed me to go home again.

      If you EVER think “that driver sees me” and you can do more to better your chances and don’t – you’re taking an unnecessary risk.

      • Prince says:

        Loud pipes don’t help and the “loud pipe saves lives” argument is ridiculous when its perpetuated by Harley types in BLACK leather!!! I’ll trust their sincerity when I see them wearing Aerostich hi-viz gear w/ their Vanson and Hines pipes!

        However, NOISE DOES HELP! But I think ANY motorcycle is loud enough that its reasonable and that loud pipes aren’t necessary. I live in Ireland and filtering is legal here, and sometimes when I’m slowly passing a car in their blind spot and I’m not sure they know I’m there I give a blip on the throttle to alert them to my presence.
        My bike, a Ducati Multistrada does have a full Termi exhaust system (put on by prev owner) and while I do love the sound I hate the attention it gets me when I’m trying to make progress on the road and frankly it probably annoys other people more than my already loud bike (dry clutch) needs to.

        I used to wear hi-viz gear but I started mentally putting the burden on other drivers to see me and I’d ride somewhat unsafely as a result. Now I don’t wear that stupid flapping vest but I assume that all drivers will turn in front of me, will turn into my lane from a parking space, and that i’m invisible and I think im a bit safer as a result.

        In Europe at least, EVERYONE even pedestrians wear HV gear so I think sometimes drivers get a case of “Hi viz blindness”.

        there are other tricks too like weaving in your lane because bikes are so narrow ppl don’t see them so “widening” one’s lane presence can help.

        lastly, I speed chronically and frankly I just don’t care about limits anymore, but if I’m doing 60mph in town, i’ll generally slow to 40 as I pass a green light if a car is in the opposing lane waiting to turn, and cover the brake and such.

        Its sad that none of this stuff was taught to me in my bike course in Canada. When I go back there, I definitely plan to become a motorcycle instructor as for whatevr reason, most instructors dont bother to pass down their knowledge.

  18. kpaul says:

    Great advice Dirck! Thanks for reprinting it. Good refresher for me.

  19. Mike says:

    A lot of great comments already, but one that hasn’t been mentioned: ride in the meat of the powerband when you’re in traffic. Don’t get caught out coasting in 6th at 40mph, you might need to accelerate around something or create a gap behind you.

    I recently traded a twin for a relatively torque-less FZ6, and I consciously keep the revs near 6k where the power starts, in the event that I need it.

    rubbersidedown, everybody

  20. Big B says:

    Nobody mentioned the hair flip? Or the hair flip of Death! Ever see a wanton look then a hair flip, hold on for dear life your about to be flipped like a cheese omlet! I learned this lesson many times over. The first was by a girl I worked with, she looked, flip her hair and pulled right out in front of me. I slid right up to her door. Hot chicks are VERY dangerous!

    If said hotty is in the car in front of you and smoking. Watch out for the cigarette butt. More times than not it will be flicked straight up and out of the window and right in your face. Give some lead on her or you will have a Marboro smoldering in your eye!

    Great article by the way…

  21. Tater says:

    I’ve been street riding since 1963, a Triumph TR 6. I would say that I try to stay as far away from 4 wheeled units as is possible. If I’m in the left lane, I stay far left so even if they come into my lane I’m out of their way. I also always try to go through an intersection using them as blockers. I never go through an intersection alone if I can help it. This has saved my butt. Always have an escape route in mind too. I think I’m invisible always no matter what. If a car has their turn signal blinking and they intend to turn in front of me, I slow down or get next to or behind another car or truck to use as a blocker. I also think that dirt bike riding will teach every one better skills when they hit the streets.

  22. Jerell Lambert says:

    Just my two cents:

    1. There is an ongoing debate about having your high beams on constantly during the day, particularly due to the brightness of later-model bulbs. While at home or parked, click on your high beams, walk out several paces in front of the bike, get down to the level of your beams and take a look. If it’s painfully bright, you might be pissing off motorists out there on the road, and we want to make friends, not enemies of the cage people.

    2. When a car wanting to turn left waits patiently for you to pass, give them a nod to acknowledge their patience, intelligence, kindness and motorcycle awareness.

    3. IMHO, your right hand should always be covering the brake lever. I have always used a Throttle Rocker since I began riding as an adult nine years ago – on cruisers to sport bikes. The device allows your hand to remain relaxed and open, and the fingers naturally fall across the brake lever. That way, you have gained some fractions of a second that may save your life or keep you from crashing.

  23. Bryan says:

    Mostly agree with what has been stated here. However, for cases where there is a car “pending collision” ahead — either left turn across my path, or someone ready to cross the roadway from the right or left, I practice the “weave”. Basically sweep your bike from side to side, staying in control and well within your lane. This drastically improves your visibility due to how the eye and brain detect threats against a background. This is also called “SMIDSY avoidance” and here’s a link to a posting that includes a nice video on the topic:

  24. Mike says:

    I find I move around quite a bit to improve my visibility. I make a conscious effort to remain in a drivers sight lines (when following) and use lane position (depending on circumstances) to make certain oncoming traffic, and traffic coming from side entrances, can see me.

  25. Brandon says:

    I have a son who will be riding very shortly. This is all great information for him. I think even as an experienced rider we all need a re-fresher from time to time.

  26. Paul says:

    Great post from everyone!
    In my opinion, high beams are very useful, how many times I tried to pass just to cancel that maneuver because a motorcycle with very low beam was coming in the opposite direction.
    Just don’t use them at night time so you don’t annoy other drivers.

    One more thing I am surprised nobody mentioned, do your shoulders check when changing lanes or turning in an intersection, you never know if a bicycle is on your right or a car is passing on your left.
    Be safe and ride for a long time

  27. Pete says:

    I believe years ago a friend crashed when a car pulled out in front of him. Car didn’t stop. He had his high beam on and the cop gave him a ticket! or possibly a warning. This was in CT.

  28. Vroooom says:

    I just want to add a recommendation for highly visible gear. Haven’t quite brought myself to wear the high vis yellow, but silver with high reflectivity helps.

  29. ninja9r says:

    Good article, but the part about making eye contact with a cage driver will only mean that you get to see the color of their eyes before they take you out. Better off realizing that none of them actually ever see you.

    • vfr800 says:

      I agree. Worse than being invisible is _thinking_ you have been seen just because you have made eye contact.

    • Prince says:

      Im sorry ninja but thats a bit silly. Eye contact DOES mean something and frankly if one were to ride like one was “invisible” literally, one would never ride. A CERTAIN amount of faith IS necessary to ride. Yes I take precautions like not riding in someone’s blind spot but i will of course be in many driver’s blind spot momentarily. I have faith that the guy behind me at a red light won’t plow into me, tho I do watch the mirror and keep hands on bars to take evasive action in case something happens. Once the guy stops tho im 99% safe because its unlikely tho possible that he might brush the accelerator pedal and plow into me but thats the faith I have. If I didnt have it I wouldn’t ride, and some take this “invisible” thing too far.

      • Justin says:

        why are we looking drivers in the eye to begin with? if you’re staring at somebody’s face, you’re ignoring too many other useful cues as to where the car is actually going, e.g. the front wheel, the hands on the steering wheel, etc.

        if you’re going slow enough that you have time for eyegazing, you should be fine no matter what they do. unless you’re on a 600 pound bike with a single-piston front brake system (not to name any names)

  30. Squid-Boy says:

    Lots of good stuff there, but I wish the “high beam” part would get dropped. I find my encounters with high beams to be annoying. Those on the road who AREN’T riders, are likely to get down right pissed at motorcycles in-general. Yeah, yeah. You prefer that to not being seen, but the next motorcyclist who encounters this pissed driver may pay the price. And you most likely would have been seen with your low beam on anyway.

    • Tim C says:

      High beam – exactly. This is the best article I’ve seen summing up why it doesn’t work like it seems like it should: Note: I do disagree with the modulator mentioned in the conclusion of the article; I find them distracting if left on when I see them in use – I can see having one and using it if you see car about to pull out or whatnot, but not leaving it on all the time.

  31. Justin says:

    My own two cents would be:
    Always be conscious of lane position.

    Crest hills away from oncoming traffic. On two-lane roads, stay away from oncoming trucks. Don’t follow directly behind another motorcycle, pick the other half of the lane. Otherwise, stay in the centermost wheel rut (left in the USA) for maximum vision and visibility.

    At stop lights and signs, don’t point your front wheel at the car in front of you, in case you get pushed from behind. Always position yourself so that, if everything around you stops, you have a place to go.

    Stick to the wheel ruts because the cars and trucks tend to clear obstacles, fluids, and such from that area with their tires. How many times has a roadkill appeared under that car you were following? With a safe following distance you can avoid it, but with lane positioning you can improve your chances.

    Likewise, when cornering on public roads, leave yourself some room to change line in mid-turn. Even the cruddiest, bumpiest racetrack is a thousand times more predictable than any road. Don’t go all the way in to the apex unless you can see the whole surface all the way through your exit from the corner. That means you want to start even wider than your instinct says, but plan on a narrower exit. Hey, if you come out too tight and too slow, you can always give it more as you straighten up.

    Cent number two is this: don’t pass left-turning vehicles on the right or right-turning vehicles on the left if there is any oncoming or cross traffic, or do so very carefully. People in cars are impatient, and they get greedy when they see a chance to go. Not only are you invisible and likely to get crushed, but it will be your own dumb fault.

    MSF has probably been the most useful class I’ve ever taken in a long history of educrastination.

  32. CascadianPDX says:

    Good point about riding with faster riders… I once was invited to a mountain road ride with a friend and a guy I didn’t know… once we hit the twisties, it became an insane racetrack with a cliff or oncoming traffic awaiting any blown turn. Turned out this guy was an experienced road racer. I survived, but learned something, let me tell you!

    Another point for those thinking about street survival strategies is the use of ‘escorts’ in busy intersections. Set yourself up to ride ‘downwind’ from a car or truck, then if some idiot flies through a red light, or is aggressive on the yellow light, he is welcome to hit the escort car.

    I once read a really good article about stuff like this… don’t recall the name, but something like ‘The Ride’. I think it was published years ago in a popular motorcycle magazine. Anyone remember and have a link?

  33. Bill says:

    Excellent review of safe riding concepts. I also wear a bright red helmet (full face coverage), Bohn body armor under a red jacket, as well as the usual ankle-supporting boots and leather gloves. For people who do not have access to open country for dirt bike riding, I can recommend finding the little-used quiet streets of residential “warrens”, tucked between busier arteries. These are great places for a new rider to spend his first 100 odometer miles practicing brake, clutch, shifting actions until they become second-nature. Be courteous to the residents of the “warren” by keeping revs low and having a full muffler on your bike. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation “Motorcycling Excellence” ( and Doug Hough’s “Proficient Motorcycling” ( are both good reads for a new motorcyclist.

  34. Tom barber says:

    This is an excellent article. After you’ve been riding for about as long as you can remember, and have somehow managed to avoid any major accidents, there is a natural tendency to be less attentive to the inherent risks of motorcycling, and to pay less heed to these rules and considerations that are paramount to riding safety. It helps to read articles such as this regularly to help keep a fresh awareness of these rules and considerations.

    And in addition to the obvious considerations such as proper riding gear and not riding as long as there any chance at all that you are still affected by that last beer that you drank, you should avoid riding with people who ride faster than you are used to riding. If you find yourself in a group that is starting to ride faster than you are used to riding, simply slow down and ride at your own speed. Never, ever, ever try to keep up with a group that is riding faster than you are used to riding.

  35. Richard Grumbine says:

    Excellent advice! Also adding modulating head lights and brake lights can improve visability, as can wearing brightly colored clothing (I usually wear a yellow jacket which luckily matches my yellow bike which goes with my yellow belly). Also many modern motorcycles have ABS and traction control options that make them MUCH safer in most conditions (wish they were an option on my bike). Take refresher courses occasionally. Attend a track day. Learn about throttle inputs and how they effect handling. And listen to anything Keith Code says! But most of all, stay calm, lean into it, and enjoy!

  36. Player says:

    This is a great post with suggestions I’ve put into practice all the time and encourage others to use.

    Some other suggestions I’d like to add:

    1) Depending on where you live, this suggestion may vary – I live in the state of WA and it hardly ever rains in the summer (but it will rain almost every day in the remaining seasons). When it rains after periods of great weather, things get sketchy. I’ve taken my CBR straight through intersections because the rain brings standing oils straight up to the surface.

    2) LOOK STRAIGHT AHEAD. I’ve introduced many friends into the world of riding and it seems like this is an important issue that needs some awareness. Many newbies get their bike out of the dealership and ride home looking sideways the entire ride home. Hoping the vehicle next to them is a girl that admires a man on a bike. Don’t be a douchebag.

    3) Do a track day at your local race track. It will not only make you more comfortable on the bike, but it will also get the “how fast does it go” out of your system.

    • kpaul says:

      Great advice Player. I live in Seattle and because like you said most of the time it rains when it doesn’t for long periods of time in the summer the oil thing can take you completely by surprise. Think I need to do more of number 3. My last speeding ticket was $300. 🙂

  37. Trpldog says:

    Started riding in 1973. Here’s a few additional helps to keep you safe on the road on your motorcycle:
    1) Don’t use deodorant before a ride, if the wind is right, the car drivers will smell you long before they see you. A good thing.
    2) Ride at least double the posted speed limit, tha way, the car drivers will surely see the flashing red lights behind you, hear the siren, helicopter, and gunshots, and give you plenty of room to enjoy your ride.
    3) Practice stoppies often to put your tail-light in a more visible position for following cars to see you more clearly. Like-wise, keep your stand-up wheelies polished so your head-light will signal left- turn drivers of your whereabouts.
    3) Tire-smoking burnout smoke will also make you more visible to those around you, not to mention, the tire marks can be used to draw smiley-faces on the pavement to foster better car driver / motorcyclist relationships.

    These are just a few things that will help you meet new people — people like paramedics, emergency room doctors, nurses…
    And if you are really lucky, you may get yourself a helicopter ride, or maybe even a small plot of ground that people can bring flowers to.

    Ride safe. All the gear all the time.

  38. Aaron says:

    If ya want to know what invisible is like, ride a small scooter.

    Makes my old bikes feel positively visible.

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