Posted on 02/14/2022 at 10:05 AM by The Biker Lawyers
When it Comes to Motorcycle Rules and Safety, 6,000+ Bikers Can't Be Wrong.
The call of the wild. The roar of the engine beneath you. Riding a motorcycle has many rewards. It’s an open road, the wind in your face and the sun on your back. There’s a sense of freedom that can’t be matched by any other form of transportation.
There are bikers and there are motorcyclists. The difference is that while some people may ride motorcycles some of the time, bikers live and breathe the lifestyle. Bikers take a certain pride in their choice of personal transportation. From that very first moment on a bike, being on the road becomes as essential as breathing.
If you’re reading this article, either you ride a motorcycle, want to learn to ride, or you love someone who rides. What are the “unspoken rules of the road?” Everyone seems to have some form of opinion on the subject, but we wanted to cut right through the clutter and get right to what matters.
Top 3 Unbreakable Rules of Riding a Motorcycle
We reached out to our community of over 6,000 hardcore bikers from around the world to find out their Top 3 Unbreakable Rules of Riding a Motorcycle. We got quite a few responses. Some preferred to use a fake screen name, while others gave their blessing to quote them. One thing you should probably know about bikers is that we tend to be brutally honest and don’t believe in B.S.
It’s not a myth that bikers are some of the smartest motorists on the road. As it turns out, there are quite a few experts waiting for their turn to speak! We got safety tips, ATGATT ("All The Gear All The Time") advice, and even a few tips on road etiquette. As we combed through our community's responses, we noticed something that they had in common: these rules of the road were learned and written the hard way- from years of experience on the open road.
TL;DR: Every biker has their own set of unbreakable rules, but to simplify, we broke them into 3 categories. Click any of the following images to jump ahead.
We started the conversation with a few tips from our very own Motorcycle Lawyer, Pete Leehey who said:
1. Keep a safety buffer around yourself - don't follow closer than three seconds and try to keep the vehicle behind you at least three seconds back as well
3. Have a crash avoidance plan for every situation
It seems that the old stereotype of bikers being untrusting of other people on the road is well earned. This was a regular theme of the rules from many in our community.
1) Safety First- Road Awareness and Preparation, Gear, Intuition
"I was once told, when I first started riding, to treat everyone like they're crazy and trying to kill you. As the years have gone by I believe the intended message was to pay attention you never know when the other person isn't."
"Safety first. No speeding. No unsafe lane changes." -Robert Wright
"Treat everyone else on the road like an idiot and think for them... if they are indicating to turn left expect them to turn right... keep a safety bubble ...lastly, always have an escape route." -Tom O' Brien
Troy Kaplan reminds us that "It's not IF you drop the bike but WHEN." and says his rules for riding a motorcycle are:
1. Always use both [brakes] at same time.
2. When turning look into the turn.
3. [Wear] proper shoe, jacket, pants (pavement is not your friend).
It's easy to remember to fuel up your ride, but don't forget the rider...
"Food along the route, restrooms along the route, gasoline along the route!!" -John Butler
"I don't lane split, but I always line myself up with a gap/escape route at stops and keep an eye on my mirrors. I don't really watch my speed, I watch traffic. The little old blue-haired lady in the 4-door long bed 3/4-ton Chevy can't see you from any angle and you will break your hand if you punch a bedside hard enough… Bonus rule: cops are sore losers..." -Vince Bommarito
"Increase Peripheral vision, at least 180 degrees, Ride to the left or right and watch brake lights ahead to stay off your brakes and ease up on your hands. Expect every car to run you over" - Bee Dub
"Know your surroundings. Stay out of heavy traffic areas. Do not get cocky as that machine will humble your ass real fast!" - Deb Usher
James Keck reminds us…
1. Everything and everyone will kill you.
2. Don't ride faster than your guardian angel.
3. If they can't hear you, they can't see you.
"Locate keys and clip helmet before putting gloves on. Everyone is an idiot apart from you. If you don't feel right just fucking stop." -Lewis McDonald
"Be paranoid everything and everyone is going to hit you. If you aren't feeling right on the bike stop and figure it out [you never know what problems with the bike that you may have otherwise missed]. Ride as fast as you can stop, not as fast as you can." -Daniel Estep
"Always leave room for others and don't get on your bike mad." - Matt Schiess
Joshua Beck Says:
1. Never stop learning. B.R.C. [Beginner Rider Course] is just the beginning.
2. Know where you’re going and tell someone. Make it a priority to call them when you get there or when you stop for a rest.
3. If you feel uncomfortable riding that day don't ride. Usually, your guardian angel is telling you something.
"Always wear closed-toe shoes or boots!" -Diane Fundel-Gilbertson
"Don't crash. Don't crash. Don't crash." -Gabriel Adrian Panait
"No flip-flops." -Casey Farnum
Ruth Walsh agrees and adds…
1. No shorts or flip flops.
2. Be alert at all times.
3. Make sure bike is in good shape with good tires, etc.
"Don't hesitate, accelerate." -Chris Piritz
"Stay away from all cars- they're idiots- unless you like ditches (or road rash)." -Withholding Name
"Just one... don't wonder if they’re going to pull out. They are. [I’ve] been riding 50 years- no wrecks... by remembering this. " - Jimmy CanScoy
John Hawley focuses on preparation with some good tips for dealing with road ragers and Law Enforcement Officers...
1. Always know your routes, WELL.
2. Always wear equipment. Helmet, boots, coat, gloves, etc.
3. Never engage a hostile driver, use speed to get far enough away from a road rage incident. If pulled over, give a description of the vehicle and person; and hope the LEO [Law Enforcement Officer] is kind.
"One of my biggest pet peeves, when I see an adult with a kid in the back in shorts and either flip flops or barefoot. Always [wear] pants, no open-toe shoes." -Julie Ramsdell
"Avoid contact with: moving vehicles, solid objects, and the ground." -Bill Nelson
"Don't try to impress anyone. Drive like you can't afford to repair it. Pretend everyone is out to kill you." -Geo Takk
"Don't Panic!" - Don Burnett
"Watch those cars. Don't go on WET road paint. If anything happens, don't panic!" -Allgrlz Onbikes
"Ride like [you're] invisible, never trust a car pulling up to a stop sign, stop showing off." -Dan Dennis
"Be predictable as you ride, determine how much of your safety you're willing to put in the hands of others 'doing the right thing,' and ride in the moment." -Mike Chapman
"Pay attention. Pay attention. Pay attention." -Mark A Harvey
"Don't hug the center line." - Jeff Reed
"Always expect other drivers to do the dumbest thing they can." - Allen Helus
Tony Gosson offered the following... food for thought...
"Dont put E-85 in your tank. Even If your Hungry do not go down the road with your mouth wide open! Do Not consider sitting on the bike on the trailer that is being pulled down the road that you are riding your bike!"
"I've only got one... drive like everyone is intentionally trying to hit you. I live by this rule when riding." -Marcus William Jaurigue
"Ride like you are invisible; you go where you look, and take a Ride Like a Pro class." - Darrin Doerres
“Always make sure you've found your keys BEFORE you put your gloves on. Never dawdle amongst traffic, make haste before someone makes you paste. Wheelies... what can I say? It's ingrained.” -Rob Murray
"Start with a 'Stay Safe' attitude [and] keep your eyes moving. Look ahead, look to the sides, and check the mirrors. Look for the problem before it becomes your problem. Ride defensively, not offensively." -Lee Leland
"Have a loud pipe so people can hear you when they can't see you." - John Zolis
2) Respect- The Road, the Motorcycle, and Other Riders
"Assume every other driver out there is a moron that doesn't see you. Know your limits [... and] No other [chicks] on the back but my woman." -Albe Wharton
"Never get on someone else's bike without their consent, respect the road, and know your ride. Lean into curves and roll on the throttle, and never ride faster than your angel can fly." -Heidi Lusson
"Maintain your ride for safety, not looks. Watch for others on the road- they're not watching you- and the road hazards. ALWAYS stop for other brothers and sisters in need." -DW Draves.
Biker Party Member Cosmin Constantin Calugarescu breaks down the respect rule like this...
1. Nobody rides your bike, unless you're not able to do it
2. Help a rider in need
3. Respect the road and fellow motorists
Fellow Biker Party Member Dave Vargus adds, "Always expect the unexpected."
"Never go over a steel bridge in the rain. Always give the motorcycle wave.” - Ron Spickel
"Must have shoes on, be sober, don’t lean back there!" - Sandy Holland
3) Enjoy the Ride, but Never Drink and Ride
"Keep the bike in tiptop shape. Always ride wide awake totally sober expecting and anticipating the worst of any scenario while on the road. And when something does happen immediately look for the hole or escape route. Number four? Stay loose stay alert and have fun!" -Eddie Toomey
"Keep it between the ditches, keep your hand out of your britches, and never ride drunk." -Terry Reeves
"Pee before you ride. [Drink only the legal limit], if more, leave the keys on the hook. Keep the rubber side DOWN!" -Curt Dalrymple
"Sobriety. My will is in order. Double-check that my life insurance policy is current and in order..." -Wayne Hebert
"Wear all safety things, don't outride my abilities, and never drink and ride!" -Luther Berge
"Sober. Everyone is trying to kill you. Ride within your limits." -John Taylor
Jeffery Guynn's Top 3 Biker Tips:
1. Ride with your head on a swivel, assume everyone wants to kill you.
2. Protection! Wear long, tough pants, safety toe boots and a leather minimum.
3. No drinking and driving. Even one could cost you a split second that could save you.
"Dress for the slide, not the ride. Don't drink and ride. Always assume no one can see you coming." -James Tucker
"Don't ride drunk, in heavy rain, or when the temp is below 30°F" -Cody Knapp
"[I] never drink an alcoholic beverage until I’m done riding for the day. ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time), and start every day with a full tank of gas and put 100 miles on and then stop for breakfast." - Steven P. Singleton
"No drinking. Make sure tires have right amount of air and don't ride in the country after dark." -Les Johnson
Lance Compton agrees with Les’ ‘No Drinking’ rule and had a couple more…
1. Don’t ever drink and ride, no alcohol at all
3. Years of experience off-road before riding on the street, you really need that muscle memory in an emergency
Experience is always the author of a biker's personal rules of the road. Sometimes when you want to share the lessons learned from your experiences, you just can’t just limit yourself to the top 3. Here are two riders who shot for extra credit when drafting their rules.
Lester Hammer suggests:
1. When in town, ride at least a block ahead of your position.
2. Ride at your own pace and where you’re comfortable.
3. Ride your skill level
4. Always be aware of ALL your surroundings.
5. Don't take others to ride with you 'till you are VERY comfortable with the bike you are riding.
6. ALWAYS wear leather footwear and gloves.
7. Chasing your significant other through twisties marked 50 at 70 mph is much sexier than you would think.
Lucas Mayrinck sums it all up quite nicely with his Top 10:
1. Motorcycle life isn't for everyone (according to skills and sensitivity)!
2. Don't ride like an idiot
3. Don't BE an idiot!
4. Maintain your bike to reduce surprises
5. Keep distance
6. Be aggressive (my rule I don’t recommend to others) but with safety and sympathy for others
6. Check your zippers
7. Check your people
8. Keep distance
10. Keep distance
The Bottom Line
As Bikers, we embrace the imperfect. We get dirty and we have fun. If you are looking for a group of people that like to spend time together, learn together, and enjoy life together, then you already qualify as a biker.
Bikers are an amazing group of people. They are adventurers, risk-takers, and non-conformists. Most of all, they are people who care about the motorcycle community and love to ride. Bikers are in it for the long haul. Bikers are dedicated riders who love the exhilaration of the open road. They ride non-stop, test their limits, and live life in the fast lane. Riding a motorcycle isn't something they do, it's who they are. The ride runs through their blood like oil through an engine.
Don’t believe us? Just ask a Biker… we’re more approachable than you might think.