Four tips for bud­ding mo­tor­bike riders

The Witness - Wheels - - BIKING -

DOC­TORS have a med­i­cal term to de­scribe new bik­ers.

They call them “or­gan donors”. Which is why Im­pe­rial Auto’s Lebo Mavuso has five tips for any­one aim­ing to es­cape the traf­fic jams and high fuel prices.

At­gatt

This acro­nym means ‘All The Gear, All The Time’ which is what ev­ery mo­tor­cy­clist should be wear­ing when­ever they ride SA’s roads. Whether it’s on the open road or quick trip to visit a friend, al­ways wear pro­tec­tive gear.

Pro­tec­tive gear in­cludes hel­met, de­cent leather jacket with shoul­der, el­bow and back pro­tec­tion, and rid­ing pants equipped with hip and knee pro­tec­tion.

Your boots should ex­tend be­yond the an­kle pro­vid­ing full pro­tec­tion.

Wear­ing pro­tec­tive gear can make the dif­fer­ence be­tween mod­er­ate scrapes and bruises and be­com­ing another road-death statis­tic.

Go back to school

If you’ve been driv­ing a car for years (or not at all, if a mo­tor­bike is your first ve­hi­cle) and you’re won­der­ing how hard it is to ride a mo­tor­cy­cle think­ing, “It’s just a bi­cy­cle with an en­gine, isn’t it?” — think again.

Dif­fer­ent physics come into play when you’re rid­ing a bike and even more skills are needed if you’re go­ing to be rid­ing off-road. Join a lo­cal mo­tor­cy­cling club and ask for ad­vice on who to speak to for lessons to im­prove your rid­ing skills.

Punch in your weight

If you’re buy­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle for the first time aim for one with an en­gine ca­pac­ity of less than 500cc.

It’s im­por­tant to build your con­fi­dence on a less in­tim­i­dat­ing bike. Fo­cus on hon­ing your skills in traf­fic and in vary­ing weather.

It’s im­por­tant to learn ba­sic main­te­nance and re­pairs.

Even if you out­grow it, there will al­ways be new riders queu­ing to take it off your hands.

Pick your style

Cruiser, sport, tourer, scooter ... there are many types of mo­tor­cy­cle avail­able so re­search dif­fer­ent styles be­fore you choose.

Fol­low­ing rule No.3, make sure you take var­i­ous types for a test ride — if you’re not li­censed yet, ask the dealer to meet you some­where where it is pos­si­ble to ride the bike off the public roads — to fa­mil­iarise your­self with the seat­ing po­si­tion, power, han­dling and over­all per­for­mance.

Think dif­fer­ent. Think bike

If you’re used to driv­ing a car, re­mem­ber that there’s a lot more to mo­tor­cy­cling than learn­ing to ride a bike.

A mo­tor­cy­cle has less con­tact with the road than a car so it is more vul­ner­a­ble in wet or sandy con­di­tions.

Bumps and pot­holes that would oth­er­wise be a mi­nor in­con­ve­nience on four wheels are likely to be sig­nif­i­cant on two.

Strong wind are also a chal­lenge — if you’re out in windy con­di­tions, move to the side of the lane from which the wind is blow­ing to avoid be­ing pushed into par­al­lel traf­fic by a gust.

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