Motorcycle Handbook

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor State of California Dale E. Bonner, Secretary Business, Transportation and Housing Agency George Valverde, Director Department of Motor Vehicles




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taBle oF coNteNts
DisclaiMer ....................................ii Where to Write ...........................ii DMV iNForMatioN .....................1 iNtroDUctioN ..........................2 tWo-Wheel Vehicle oPeratioN ...2
Motorcycles ...................................2 Motor-Driven Cycles ......................2 Motorized Bicycles ........................3 Motorized Scooter .........................3 Keeping Your Distance ................13 Lane Positions ..........................13 Following Another Vehicle ........14 Being Followed ........................14 Passing and Being Passed ......15 Passing.....................................15 Being Passed ...........................15 Lane Sharing ............................16 Merging Cars ...........................16 Cars Alongside .........................16 Search, Evaluate, and Execute (SEE) ..........................17 Search ......................................17 Evaluate ....................................17 Execute.....................................17 Intersections ................................18 Blind Intersections....................18 Passing Parked Cars ................19 Parking at the Roadside ...........20 Increasing Visibility ......................20 Clothing ....................................20 Headlight ..................................20 Turn Signals ..............................21 Brake Light ...............................21 Using Your Mirrors ....................22 Head Checks ...........................22 Horn ..........................................23 Riding at Night .........................23 Collision Avoidance .....................23 Quick Stops ..............................24 Swerving or Turning Quickly ...................................24 Cornering .................................25 Handling Dangerous Surfaces.....26 Uneven Surfaces and Obstacles ..............................26 Slippery Surfaces .....................27 Railroad or Trolley Tracks and Pavement Seams...................28 Grooves and Gratings ..............28 Mechanical Problems ..................28 Tire Failure ................................28 Stuck Throttle ............................29 Wobble .....................................29 Chain Problems ........................30 Engine Seizure .........................30

liceNse reQUireMeNts ..............3
Earning Your License.....................4 Basic Rider Course .......................4 Application Requirements — All Drivers ...................................4 Minors’ M1/M2 Permit Requirements .............................5 Minors’ M1/M2 License Requirements .............................5 Adults’ M1/M2 Permit Requirements .............................5 License Requirements — All Drivers ...................................5 Motorcycle Skills Test ....................6

PrePariNG to riDe ....................7
Wearing the Right Gear.................7 Helmet Use.................................7 Helmet Selection ........................7 Eye and Face Protection ............8 Clothing ......................................8 Know Your Motorcycle ...................9 The Right Motorcycle .................9 Get Familiar with the Motorcycle Controls.................9 Check Your Motorcycle .............10 Know Your Responsibilities..........10

riDe WithiN YoUr aBilities ....... 11
Basic Vehicle Control ................... 11 Body Position ........................... 11 Shifting Gears........................... 11 Braking .....................................12 Turning ......................................12


Animals .......................................30 Flying Objects..............................30 Getting Off The Road...................30 Carrying Passengers and Cargo ........................................31 Equipment ................................31 Instructing Passengers ............31 Riding With Passengers ...........32 Carrying Loads .........................32 Group Riding ...............................32 Keep the Group Small ..............32 Keep the Group Together .........33 Keep Your Distance ..................33

BeiNG iN shaPe to riDe ............ 34
Blood Alcohol Concentration .......34 Alcohol and the Law ....................35 Minimize the Risks ......................35 Fatigue ........................................35

MotorcYcle iNsUraNce Facts ................................. 35 eVaDiNG a Peace oFFicer .......... 36 treaD liGhtlY! ....................... 36

This handbook is only a summary of the laws and regulations. DMV, law enforcement, and courts follow the full and exact language of the law contained in the California Vehicle Code. You may buy a copy of the California Vehicle Code at any DMV office or visit our website at www.dmv.ca.gov.


Where to Write

If you have any comments or suggestions regarding this publication, please send them to:

Department of Motor Vehicles Customer Communications Section MS H165 PO Box 932345 Sacramento, CA 94232-3450
© Copyright, Department of Motor Vehicles 2010 All rights reserved. This work is protected by U. S. Copyright Law. DMV owns the copyright of this work. Copyright law prohibits the following: (1) reproduction of the copyrighted work; (2) distribution of copies of the copyrighted work; (3) preparation of derivative works based upon the copyrighted work; (4) displaying the copyrighted work publicly; or (5) performing the copyrighted work publicly. All requests for permission to make copies of all or any part of this publication should be addressed to: Department of Motor Vehicles Legal Office MS C128 PO Box 932382 Sacramento, CA 94232-3820

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directions. to 5 p. please call the Office of State Publishing Advertising Department at 1-866-824-0603. and publications. debit card.DMV offices are open 8 a. Go online or call the toll-free number below to find the office locations and service options of an office near you.m.m. forms. The products and services provided by the advertising sponsors are not promoted or endorsed by DMV. ment. A few offices offer only driver license or vehicle registration services. – Persons with speech or hearing – Make a driving test appointimpairments can call. 7 days a received and responded to at this week to: number. – Find office locations and • TTY hours. but the significant contribution by the advertising sponsors is most appreciated. helps defray the printing costs of this publication.m. Go online at www. 1-800-368-4327 for assistance – Speak to a DMV representative. Thursday. Advertising sponsorship. – Make an office appointment. on Monday. You will need to have the – Get driver license and vehicle Renewal Identification Number registration information. – Access DMV’s voice recognition system. hours. DMV iNForMatioN -1- . toll free. with DMV services. If you would like to advertise in this publication.dmv.ca. brochures. provided on your billing notice. to 5 p. on Wednesday. Only typed • Call 1-800-777-0133 for automated messages from another TTY are service 24 hours a day. and sample tests • Senior driver information • Teen driver information • Links to other state and federal agencies • Renew your driver license or vehicle registration with the Renewal Identification Number (RIN) provided on your renewal notice • Call 1-800-777-0133 during normal – Renew your vehicle registration using a check. Tuesday. instead of your fees.m. and phone numbers • Making appointments (except for commercial driving tests) • Ordering personalized plates • Driver license and identification card information • Vehicle/vessel registration information • Downloadable forms • Publications—handbooks.gov for: • Field office locations. or credit business hours to: card. and Friday and from 9 a.

or bicycles with a motor attached. law enforcement. motordriven cycles. licensing. and similar vehicles may fall within the definition of motorcycle. California Highway Patrol (CHP). and operation requirements. motor-driven cycle. motor-Driven cycles A motor-driven cycle is: • A motorcycle with a 149 cc or less engine size. bicycle path or trail. NOTE: You may not operate a motor-driven cycle on a freeway if -2- . Study the California Driver Handbook as well as this supplement. or recreational trail unless that path or trail is on or next to a road or permission to use the trail or roadway is granted by local law. California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP). This supplement provides information for both novice and experienced drivers of two-wheel vehicles. Do not ride a moped on a freeway. if required. registration. mopeds. Any person registering a motorcycle is required to obtain a Class M1 or M2 driver license prior to operating the vehicle. they must meet applicable equipment. remember that it is only a summary of the laws and regulations. trail bikes. Minibikes. tWo-Wheel Vehicle oPeratioN The basic rules of the road contained in the California Vehicle Code apply to all two-wheel vehicles which include motorcycles. along with quality motorcycle rider education and increased public awareness. The MSF. has the potential to reduce the number and severity of motorcycle collisions. and courts follow the full and exact language of the law contained in the California Vehicle Code (CVC).iNtroDUctioN This handbook supplements the California Driver Handbook concerning traffic laws. hiking trail. or motorized bicycle. tote-goats. safe driving rules. Portions of this handbook which deal with safe driving practices (rather than traffic laws) were developed initially by the National Public Services Research Institute in cooperation with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). When using this handbook. and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) all agree that improved licensing. DMV. various motorcyclist enthusiast groups. If any of these vehicles are operated on a highway. and driver licenses. motorcycles A motorcycle: • Has a seat or saddle for the rider and is designed to travel on not more than three wheels. equestrian (horse) trail.

NOTE: A motorized scooter may be driven with any class driver license.9) You may ride a moped in a bicycle lane at a reasonable speed. – a motor producing less than two gross brake horsepower and an automatic transmission. – an electric motor. with or without pedals for human propulsion. A motorized bicycle is: • A two.or three-wheeled device.000 watts) which cannot be driven at speeds of more than 20 mph on level ground even if assisted by human power. handlebars. liceNse reQUireMeNts California issues the following license classes for two-wheel vehicle operation: • Class M1—You may operate any two-wheel motorcycle. A motorized scooter may not be used to take a Class M1 or M2 skills test. you: • Must be 16 years of age or older. – the ability to be powered by human propulsion. or a -3- . Be careful of bicyclists using the lane. motorizeD scooter motorizeD Bicycles There are two definitions of motorized bicycle (moped). and a floorboard for standing on when riding. and equipped with: – fully operative pedals for human propulsion. NOTE: The permit and license requirements in this handbook pertain to two-wheel vehicles and are referenced in Section 12804. capable of no more than 30 mph on level ground. (CVC §12804. driver license.signs are posted to prohibit motordriven cycle operation. (CVC §406[a]) • A vehicle with pedals and an electric motor (not more than 1. (CVC §406[b]) If you operate a motorized bicycle which meets the definition of CVC §406(b). • Are exempt from the motor vehicle financial responsibility.9 of the California Vehicle Code. • Must wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet. The motorized scooter’s exhaust system must not be modified or altered. or motorized scooter and all vehicles listed under Class M2. • Class M2—You may operate any motorized bicycle. motor-driven cycle. and moped plate requirements. A motorized scooter is defined as any two-wheeled “device” with: • A motor. and • The options of having: – a driver seat which cannot interfere with the operator’s ability to stand and ride. moped.

You may obtain a Class M1 or M2 license at any DMV office which provides driver license services. Testing two-wheel vehicle operators is the best measurement of the skills necessary to operate safely in traffic because people often overestimate their own abilities. • Pass an additional law test on motorcycle driving rules. To obtain an instruction permit to operate an M1/M2 vehicle on public roads. DMV’s licensing exams are designed to be scored objectively. NOTE: Class C licensees may operate a motorcycle with a side car attached or a three-wheel motorcycle. Knowledge test questions are based on information.org. several years. practices. application requirements — all Drivers earning your license Safe riding requires knowledge and skill. • Pay the required application fee. you must: • Submit a completed DMV application form (DL 44 or DL 44C).ca-msp. This course offers hands-on motorcycle skill training for novice and returning riders. For more information you may contact CMSP at 1-877-RIDE411 or visit www. and ideas from this handbook. or a motorized scooter. NOTE: The Class M1/M2 permit does not allow you to carry passengers and you must ride during daylight hours only and not on a freeway. Refer to the California Driver Handbook for basic class driver license requirements. The DMV motorcycle skills test is waived upon completion of the Basic Rider Course and submission of the Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (DL 389). The on-cycle skill test is conducted in either an actual traffic environment or in a controlled off-street area. Basic riDer course Motorcycle applicants are encouraged to enroll in the Basic Rider Course offered by the California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP). • Pass an eye exam. • Give a thumb print and signature. • Have your picture taken.bicycle with an attached motor. • Pass a test(s) on traffic laws and signs for the class of license you now have unless you have taken the test(s) within the prior twelve months. you must pass a knowledge test and an on-cycle skill test. -4- . Motorcycle law tests and skill tests are required. CMSP has trained thousands of riders over the past These are the requirements if you already have a basic class driver license. To obtain your license.

• Provide a Completion of Motorcycle Training certificate (DL 389) from an approved CHP motorcycle rider training course. • Be at least 16 years old. • Complete the application requirements. • Have your parents’ * signatures on the application form.org. you can attend a CHP approved motorcycle training course. call 1-877-RIDE-411 or visit www. The skill test is waived for any person presenting a valid DL 389. If you complete this motorcycle training course and submit a valid DL 389. • Pass a road test. your insurance cost may be reduced. OL 237. the knowledge and skills you learn in this motorcycle rider training course may help you avoid a serious injury or a fatal collision. Applicants under 21 years of age are required by law to provide a DL 389. or all legal guardians unless only one legal guardian has custody. you must: • Complete the application requirements. if you are applying for a Class M1/M2 license only. * The term parents means both custodial parents unless only one parent has custody. To obtain a Class M1/M2 license. license requirements — all Drivers minors’ m1/m2 license requirements To obtain a Class M1/M2 license. DL 388A. or OL 238). • Pass a DMV skill test or present a Completion of Motorcycle Training Certificate (DL 389) to waive the skill test. This motorcycle training course is highly recommended. or older.minors’ m1/m2 permit requirements To obtain a Class M1/M2 permit. • Be 18 years of age. ca-msp. For more information and to locate the nearest training site. NOTE: If you are 21 years of age or older. you must: • Complete the requirements listed above. (DL 387. you must: • Complete the application and permit requirements listed above. aDults’ m1/m2 permit requirements To obtain a Class M1/M2 instruction permit. Check with your insurance company to see if you qualify for a reduced rate. you must: • Be 15 ½ years of age and bring proof you have finished both driver education and driver training. Additionally. Motorcycle training courses are located throughout California. -5- . DL 388.

• Slow Ride – Ride slowly between two parallel lines keeping the front tire within the tracking path. complete a U-turn and return. At the end of the row of cones you will begin the circle ride. return to the starting point weaving once more through the row of five cones. At the end of the tracking path. You will be asked to identify nine items on your motorcycle before the actual riding portion of the test. The items you will be asked to identify are the: • Starter • Kill switch • Clutch • Throttle • Gear selector • Dimmer switch • Brakes • Turn signals • Horn The motorcycle skills test allows the rider to demonstrate his/her ability to control the motorcycle through several skills tests. -6- .motorcycle skills test Basic vehicle control skills are included in the motorcycle skills test to determine your ability to maneuver in normal traffic situations. • Gear Shift Ride – Ride in a straight path. shifting gears up. you will weave through a row of five traffic cones. then down and end in a smooth stop at the starting point. begin the circle ride twice in a counterclockwise direction or by turning right into the circle tracking path. The motorcycle skills test is a pass/fail test. shifting gears up. then down. • Circle Ride – Ride around the circle twice in a clockwise direction keeping the front wheel within the tracking path. You will be asked to demonstrate the following four skills. which include tracking paths (the area within and including the tracking lines): • Serpentine Ride – Beginning on the right of the first cone.

your gear is “right” if it protects you. • Protective clothing. a safe rider makes a point to: • Become familiar with the motorcycle. Unsafe Helmet Interior Safe Helmet Interior -7- . Department of Transportation (DOT) and state safety standards. • Wear the right gear. Helmet Use Collisions can occur—particularly among new riders. head and neck injuries are reduced by properly wearing an approved helmet. helmets can cut both the number and the severity of head injuries by half. • Be a responsible rider. Before starting any trip. • Check the motorcycle equipment. • Face or eye protection. No matter what your speed in a collision. you get the most protection by making sure the helmet: • Meets U. or motorized scooter. All operators and passengers must wear an approved safety helmet when riding on a motorcycle. Whichever style you choose. Helmet Selection There are two primary types of helmets which provide two different levels of coverage: three-quarter and full face. you have a far better chance of avoiding serious injury when you wear: • An approved helmet. Wearing the right gear When you ride. At these speeds. motorized bicycle. Many collisions result in head or neck injuries with head injuries being far more common. Here are some facts to consider. motordriven cycle. Research shows that head and neck injuries account for a majority of serious and fatal motorcyclist injuries and that with few exceptions. • Most collisions happen on short trips (less than five miles long) just a few minutes after starting out. • Most riders are riding slower than 30 mph when a collision occurs.PrePariNG to riDe What you do before you start a trip goes a long way toward determining whether you’ll get where you want to go safely. if you are wearing a helmet you are three times more likely to survive a head injury than if you aren’t wearing one. In any collision.S. • An approved helmet lets you see as far to the sides as necessary.

slip-resistant material. but they don’t protect the rest of your face as a face shield does. and the hot and moving parts of the motorcycle. Wear a jacket even in warm weather to prevent dehydration. It also protects you from wind. It also provides comfort. nor will eyeglasses or sunglasses. Tuck in laces so they won’t catch on your motorcycle. The heels should be short so they do not catch on rough surfaces. Many are designed to protect without getting you overheated. A windshield is not a substitute for a face shield or goggles. • Give a clear view to either side. Soles should be made of hard. • Be resistant to punctures. Clothing The right clothing protects you in a collision. Tinted eye protection should not be worn at night or any other time when little light is available. dirt. Most windshields will not protect your eyes from the wind. -8- . loose padding or frayed straps. debris. it’s likely to fly off your head before it gets a chance to protect you. Leather or a sturdy synthetic material offers the most protection. Goggles protect your eyes. to reduce fogging. • Permit air to pass through. dust. Otherwise. rain. all the way around. if needed. and pebbles thrown up from the vehicles ahead. NOTE: The DOT lettering should not be a stick-on label or easily removed. so it does not blow off. Keep your helmet securely fastened on your head when you ride. Glasses won’t keep your eyes from watering. • Jacket and pants should cover arms and legs completely. • Fasten securely. • Boots or shoes should be high and sturdy enough to cover your ankles and support them. They should fit snugly enough to keep from flapping in the wind. To be effective. you can devote your full attention to the road. eye or face shield protection must: • Be free of scratches. durable. • Permit enough room for eyeglasses or sunglasses. and they might blow off when you turn your head. insects. If you don’t have to deal with these types of problems. • Fits snugly. if you are involved in a collision. • Has no obvious defects such as cracks. as well as protection from heat.• Has the DOT lettering on the back of the helmet for your safety. even on summer days. but still allow you to move freely. Eye and Face Protection A plastic shatter-resistant face shield can help protect your whole face in a collision. cold.

• A horn and two mirrors. knoW your motorcycle There are many things on the highway that can cause you trouble. take turns more slowly. • Know the gear pattern. Your gloves should be made of leather or similar durable material. particularly the turn signals. Your motorcycle should not be one of them. • Ride very cautiously and be aware of your surroundings. • Be familiar with the motorcycle controls. • Headlight. Riding for long periods in cold weather can cause severe chill and fatigue. Good-quality rain suits designed for motorcycle riding resist tearing apart or ballooning up at high speeds. You cannot control a motorcycle well if you are numb. as well as protect you from injury. • Find out where everything is. • Keep it in safe riding condition between rides. and engine cut-off switch. fuel-supply valve. To make sure that your motorcycle won’t let you down: • Start with the right motorcycle for you. horn. If you use an unfamiliar motorcycle: • Make all the safety and maintenance checks you would on your own motorcycle. taillight. Your feet should reach the ground while you are seated on the motorcycle. brake light. Get Familiar with the Motorcycle Controls Be completely familiar with the motorcycle before you take it out on the street. your street-legal motorcycle must have: • Tires with sufficient tread for safe operation. clutch and brakes a few times before you start riding. and turn signals. headlight switch. wrists. At minimum. your clothes should keep you warm and dry. • Avoid add-ons and modifications that make your motorcycle harder to handle. make sure your motorcycle “fits” you. Accelerate gently. • Check the motorcycle before every ride.• Gloves allow a better grip and help protect your hands. • Read the owner’s manual first. • Front and rear brakes. The Right Motorcycle First. -9- . and waist. Work the throttle. and leave extra room for stopping. You should be able to find them without having to look for them. In cold or wet weather. A winter jacket should resist wind and fit snugly at the neck. All controls react a little differently.

knoW your responsiBilities “Accident” implies an unforeseen event that occurs without anyone’s fault or negligence. If something is wrong with the motorcycle. that is not the case. a mirror may show the edge of your arm or shoulder—but it’s the road behind and to the side that is most important. The throttle should snap back when you let go. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. complete the following checks before starting out: • Clutch and Throttle—Make sure they work smoothly. Get familiar with any motorcycle that is new to you. general wear. When properly adjusted. • Brakes—Try the front and rear brake levers one at a time. Once you are on the motorcycle. Look under the motorcycle for signs of an oil or gas leak.10 - . Make the following checks before every ride: • Tires—Check the air pressure. you’ll want to find out about it before you get in traffic. fasteners. Riding an unfamiliar motorcycle adds to the problem. At a minimum. Blame doesn’t matter when someone is injured in a collision. In addition to the checks before every trip. ride extra carefully on any motorcycle that is new or unfamiliar to you. Make sure all lights work properly. and fluids. check the following items at least once a week: Wheels. • Headlights and Taillight— Check them both. Collisions are fairly common among new riders. • Brake Light—Try both brake controls and make sure each one turns on the brake light. The clutch should feel tight and smooth. and tread. check hydraulic fluids and coolants weekly. preferably in a controlled area. most people involved in a collision can usually claim some responsibility for what takes place. Adjust each mirror so you can see the lane behind and as much as possible of the lane next to you. There . (No matter how experienced you may be. Test your switch to make sure both high and low beams work. • Fluids—Oil and fluid levels. In fact.) Remember that more than half of all collisions occur on motorcycles ridden by riders with less than six months experience. • Horn—Make sure the horn works. cables. Most often in traffic. Make sure each one feels firm and holds the motorcycle when the brake is fully applied.Check Your Motorcycle A motorcycle needs more frequent attention than a car. • Turn Signals—Turn on both right and left turn signals. • Mirrors—Clean and adjust both mirrors before starting.

• Hands—Hold the handlegrips firmly. Allow yourself enough space when following. This allows you to use the proper muscles for precision steering. Use the proper signals. • Be prepared to act. Shifting Gears There is more to shifting gears than simply getting the motorcycle to pick up speed smoothly. Start with your right wrist flat so you won’t accidentally use too much throttle. or an unprepared participant in. passing. Also.11 - . Wear proper clothing. Look at least 10 to 15 seconds ahead. • Knees—Keep your knees against the gas tank to help with your balance as you turn the motorcycle. • Seat—Sit far enough forward so your arms are slightly bent when holding the handlegrips. and ride in the best lane position to see and be seen.is rarely a single cause of any collision. you can’t be sure that others will see you or yield the right of way. brake light. use your headlight. It is up to you to keep from being the cause of. being followed. and lane position. Keep your feet near the controls. don’t point your toes downward—they may get caught between the road and the footpegs. • Scan your path of travel. lane sharing. . • Identify and separate multiple hazards. or balance. You learn this only through practice and by knowing your abilities and riding within them. The ability to be aware. • Feet—Keep your feet firmly on the footpegs for balance. turn- riDe WithiN YoUr aBilities This handbook cannot teach you how to control direction. Also. • Communicate your intentions. To reduce the chances of a collision: • Be visible. As a rider. Learning to use the gears when downshifting. and carry them out separates responsible riders from all the rest. Bending your arms permits you to press on the handlebars without having to stretch. Basic vehicle control Body Position To control a motorcycle well: • Posture—Sit so you can use your arms to steer the motorcycle rather than to hold yourself up. and being passed. any collision. • Maintain an adequate space cushion. adjust the handlebars so your hands are even with or below your elbows. speed. Don’t drag your feet or you could be injured and lose control of the motorcycle. Remain alert and know how to carry out proper collision-avoidance skills. make critical decisions.

even clutch release especially when downshifting.12 - . When you lean the motorcycle. not your shoulders. Use four steps for better control: 1. Also. Use caution and squeeze the brake lever. or starting on hills is important for safe motorcycle operation. • If you know the technique. using the front brake incorrectly on a slippery surface may be hazardous.ing. .) Turning Riders often try to take curves or turns too fast. Look—Look through the turn to where you want to go. Squeeze the front brake and press down on the rear brake. Slow—Reduce your speed before the turn by closing the throttle and. A skid can occur if you apply too much brake. Remember to shift smoothly because a sudden change in power to the rear wheel can cause a skid. (Consult your owner’s manual. they end up crossing into another lane of traffic or going off the road. Using both brakes for “normal” stops permits you to develop the proper habit and skill of using both brakes properly. never “grab” it. Braking Your motorcycle has two brakes: one each for the front and rear wheel. Approach turns and curves with caution. Or. When they can’t hold the turn. Turn only your head. which you may need in an emergency. The front brake is safe to use when you use it properly. Work toward a smooth. When riding downhill or shifting into first gear you may need to slow to downshift safely. Remain in first gear while stopped so you can move out quickly if needed. The front brake is more powerful and can provide at least three-quarters of your total stopping power. However. Use both brakes at the same time. REMEMBER: • Use both brakes every time you slow or stop. Grabbing at the front brake or jamming down on the rear brake can cause the brakes to lock and result in control problems. if necessary. It is best to change gears before starting a turn. sometimes you may need to shift while in the turn. Shift down through the gears with the clutch as you slow or stop. using both brakes in a turn is possible. 2. • Some motorcycles have integrated braking systems that link the front and rear brakes together when you apply the rear brake pedal. although it should be done very carefully. they overreact and brake too hard causing a skid and loss of control. applying both brakes. Ride slowly enough when you shift into a lower gear or the motorcycle will lurch and the rear wheel may skid. some of the traction is used for cornering and less traction is available for stopping.

To lean the motorcycle. • Communicate your intentions. the center of the lane (path 2) is usually the best option. 4. Change your lane position as traffic situations change. Your lane position should: • Increase your ability to see and be seen. In normal turns. the rider and the motorcycle should lean together at the same angle. Position yourself in the lane that allows the most visibility and space around you.13 - . . Maintain steady speed or accelerate gradually through the turn. If vehicles are on both sides of you. Press—To turn. • Protect your lane from other drivers. Select the appropriate lane position to maximize your space cushion and make yourself more visible to others on the road. This will help keep the motorcycle stable. In slow tight turns. there is no “best lane position” for riders in which to be seen and to maintain a space cushion around the motorcycle. Press left—lean left—go left. the motorcycle must lean. as indicated in the illustration. lane positions keeping your Distance The best protection you can have is distance—a “cushion of space”—all around your motorcycle. • Help you avoid wind blasts from other vehicles. the rider should keep his/her body straight and only lean the motorcycle. In general. • Provide an escape route. Press right—lean right—go right. 3. • Avoid others’ blind spots. Lane Positions In some ways the size of the motorcycle can work to your advantage. press on the handlegrip in the direction of the turn.and keep your eyes level with the horizon. distance gives you: • Time to react. If someone else makes a mistake. Ride in paths 2 or 3 if vehicles and other potential problems are on your left side. Roll—Roll on the throttle through the turn to stabilize suspension. • Space to maneuver. Higher speeds and/or tighter turns require the motorcycle to lean more. Each traffic lane gives a motorcycle three paths of travel.

To gauge your following distance: • Ahead of you. . It also gives you a better view of potholes and other road hazards. pick out a marker such as a pavement marking or lamp post. motorcycles need as much distance to stop as cars. one-thousand-two. if the driver ahead stops suddenly. the average oily center strip permits adequate traction on which to ride safely. If you ride in the left or right portion of the lane. • When the rear bumper of the vehicle ahead of you passes the marker. Being Followed When you speed up to lose a tailgater. So if the traffic situation allows. or you cannot see through the vehicle ahead.” you are following too closely. This will make it easier to get out of the way if a driver behind you is traveling too quickly or the vehicle ahead starts to back up. Open up a threesecond or more following distance when the pavement is slippery. You will need a larger space cushion if your motorcycle takes longer than normal to stop. Following Another Vehicle “Following too closely” (tailgating) could be a factor in collisions involving motorcyclists. Normally. ride where the driver can see you in his/her rearview mirror. or someone may squeeze in front of you. or traffic is heavy. A two-second following distance gives you a minimum amount of space to stop or swerve. you should maintain a two-second following distance.14 - .” • If you reach the marker before you reach “two. You can ride just to the left or right of the oily strip and still be within the center portion of the traffic lane. the driver may see you in his/her side view mirror. But remember that most drivers don’t look at their side view mirrors as often as they check the rearview mirror. When behind a vehicle. Avoid riding on oil and grease buildups which are usually found at busy intersections or toll booths. your image should be in the middle of the driver’s rearview mirror—where he/ she is more likely to see you. Unless the road is wet. Try to travel in the most heavily traveled portion of the traffic lane (path 1 or 3) where other vehicles tires have traveled. the center lane position is usually the best place for you to be seen by the driver ahead and to prevent lane sharing by others. If you ride in the center portion of the lane.The oily strip in the center portion of the lane is usually no more than two feet wide. count off the seconds: “one-thousand-one. In traffic. When you are stopped. you only end up with someone tailgating you at a higher speed. keep well behind the vehicle ahead of you.

Remember. Use your mirrors and turn your head to look for traffic behind. Ride through the driver’s blind spot as quickly as possible. 2. 4. Passing 1.15 - . But if the tailgater doesn’t pass. Being Passed When you are being passed from behind or by an oncoming vehicle. passing must be completed within posted speed limits. 3.A better way to handle tailgaters is to allow them to pass you. you have at least given yourself and the tailgater more time and space to react in case an emergency develops. However. Ride in the left portion of your lane at a safe following distance to increase your line of sight and make you more visible. You have more room for error if you are in the middle portion of the lane when hit by this blast than if you are on either the left or right portions of the lane. When safe. Do not move into the portion of the lane farthest from the passing vehicle. slow down and open up extra space ahead of you which will allow space for both you and the tailgater to stop. Signal and check for oncoming traffic. • Blasts of wind from larger vehicles—They can affect your control. Signal again and complete mirror and head checks before returning to your original lane. Passing and Being Passed Passing and being passed by a larger vehicle is not much different than with a smaller passenger vehicle. It might invite the other driver to move back into your lane too early. If you can’t do this. This will also encourage the tailgater to pass. • Objects thrown from windows—Even if the driver knows you are there. • Extended mirrors—Some drivers forget that their mirrors hang out farther than their fenders. move into the left lane and accelerate. Avoid being hit by: • The other vehicle—A slight mistake by you or the passing driver could cause a sideswipe. Select a lane position that doesn’t crowd the car you are passing and provides space to avoid hazards in your lane. Then cancel your turn signal. . visibility is more critical. Be sure other drivers see you and that you see potential hazards. a passenger may not see you and might toss something on you or the road ahead of you. stay in the center portion of your lane. and only where permitted. Riding any closer could put you in a hazardous situation.

adjust your speed to open up space for the merging driver. Riding between rows of stopped or moving cars in the same lane can leave you vulnerable. • When they want to pass you. • When you are preparing to turn at an intersection. or a hand could come out of a window. merging Cars Alongside Do not ride next to passenger vehicles or trucks in other lanes if you don’t have to because you might be in the driver’s blind spot. If there is no room for a lane change.Lane Sharing Cars and motorcycles each need a full lane to operate safely. Keep a center position whenever drivers might be tempted to squeeze by you. Merging Cars Drivers on an entrance ramp may not see you on the highway. A car could turn suddenly or change lanes. Lane sharing is not safe. Drivers are most tempted to do this: • In heavy. bumper-to-bumper traffic. The driver could change lanes without warning. Give them plenty of room. Discourage lane sharing by others. Change to another lane if one is open. • When you are moving into an exit lane or leaving a highway. BlinD spots .16 - . a door could open.

• Traffic coming from either the left. SEE stands for: Search. vehicles in the next lane can block your escape if you come upon danger in your own lane. Apply the old saying “one step at a time” to handle two or more hazards. Then . bridges. They improve their riding strategy by using SEE. anD execute (see) Experienced riders remain aware of what is going on around them. or behind. Evaluate Think about how hazards can create risks for you. • Vehicles and other traffic may move into your path and increase the likelihood of a collision. • Road and surface characteristics such as potholes. a three-step process for making appropriate judgments and applying them correctly in different traffic situations. evaluate. or school and construction zones. Anticipate potential problems and have a plan to reduce risks.17 - . or slowing. How you search and how much time and space you have. to the sides. Evaluate. can eliminate or reduce harm. and behind to help you avoid potential hazards. • Adjust your speed by accelerating. stopping. warning signs. telephone poles and trees won’t move into your path but may influence your riding strategy. right. Focus even more on finding potential escape routes in or around intersections. • Hazardous road conditions. Speed up or drop back to find a place clear of traffic on both sides. and Execute. • Traffic control devices such as traffic signals.Also. You must leave yourself time to react if an emergency arises. Search Actively search ahead. search. • Adjust your lane position and/ or direction of travel. shopping areas. Think about your time and space requirements in order to maintain a margin of safety. Execute Carry out your decision. Search for factors such as: • Oncoming traffic that may turn left in front of you. To create more space and minimize harm from any hazard: • Communicate your presence with lights and/or your horn. regulatory signs. and pavement markings will help you evaluate circumstances ahead. guardrails. Adjust your speed so you can deal with each hazard separately.

or school and construction zones. cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce your reaction time. An intersection is anywhere traffic may cross your path. Over one-half of motorcycle/passenger vehicle collisions are caused by drivers entering a rider’s right-of-way. are the biggest dangers. such as intersections. and cars on side streets that pull into your lane. Weigh the consequences of each and give equal distance to the hazards. assume that it will. intersections The greatest potential for conflict between you and other traffic is at intersections. Never count on “eye contact” as a sign that a driver will yield to you. move away from vehicles preparing to turn. It can be in the middle of an urban area or at a driveway on a residential street. If a vehicle can enter your path. If you have a stop sign or stop line. The driver might think that you are preparing to turn. After entering the intersection. shopping areas. Ride with your headlight on in a lane position that provides you with the best view of oncoming traffic. In this picture the rider has moved to the left portion of the lane—away from the parked car—so the driver on the cross street can see him/her as soon as possible. including those illegally turning left from the wrong lane.18 - . large intersections . Increase your chances of being seen at intersections. move to the portion of the lane that brings you into another driver’s field of vision at the earliest possible moment. select a lane position that increases your visibility to the driver. As you approach an intersection. In high-risk areas. Maintain a space cushion around your motorcycle that permits you to take evasive action. Your use of SEE at intersections is critical. The only eyes that you can count on are your own. Good riders are always “looking for trouble”—not to get into it. but to stay out of it. Vehicles that turn left in front of you.deal with them one at a time as single hazards. Blind Intersections When you approach a blind intersection. Reduce your speed as you approach an intersection. Do not change speed or position radically. a driver can look right at a motorcyclist and still fail to “see” him/her. Too often. Cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce reaction time. Decision-making becomes more complex with three or more hazards. There are no guarantees that others will see you.

Since you can’t tell what a driver will do. Vehicles making a sudden U-turn are the most dangerous. . slow down and get the driver’s attention. Slow down or change lanes to make room for someone to enter. If oncoming traffic is present. parkeD cars BlinD intersection Passing Parked Cars When passing parked cars. lean your body forward and look around buildings. drivers getting out of cars. They may cut you off entirely. the driver might enter your path. This way. A bigger problem can occur if a driver pulls away from the curb without checking for traffic behind.19 - . Make sure your front wheel stays out of the cross lane of travel while you are looking.stop there first. blocking the whole roadway and leaving you with no place to go. From that position. you can avoid problems caused by doors opening. Even if the driver looks. parked cars. stay toward the left portion of your lane. Then edge forward and stop again. or people stepping from between cars. In either event. or bushes to see if anything is coming. Sound your horn and continue with caution. he/she may fail to see you. it is usually best to remain in the center portion of the lane to maximize your space cushion. just short of where the cross-traffic lane meets your lane.

Even if a driver does see you coming. Also. a motorcycle with its light on is twice as likely to be noticed. Too often. Bright orange. parking at curBs increasing visiBility In collisions with motorcyclists. Using your high beam during the day and at night increases the chances that oncoming drivers will see you. they are wrong.20 - . they are looking through the skinny. use the low beam. drivers often say that they never saw the motorcycle. a motorcycle’s outline is much smaller than a passenger vehicle’s. More likely. Wear brightly-colored clothing to increase your chances of being seen. you aren’t necessarily safe. red. and most drivers are not looking for motorcycles. From ahead or behind. thinking they have plenty of time. yellow. or green jackets or vests are the best for being seen. Headlight The best way to help others see your motorcycle is to always keep the headlight on. When it is foggy. your body is half of the visible surface area of the rider/motorcycle unit. Reflective material can also be a big help for drivers coming toward you or from behind. Smaller vehicles appear farther away and seem to be traveling slower than they actually are. Reflective material on a vest and on the sides of the helmet will help drivers see you from the side. It is common for drivers to pull out in front of motorcyclists. Brightly colored helmets can also help others see you. Studies show that during the day. However. Clothing Most collisions occur in broad daylight. Remember.Parking at the Roadside Park at a 90° angle to the curb with the rear wheel touching the curb. . twowheeled silhouette in search of cars that may pose a problem to them. Use your high beam if it is legal and safe to do so. it’s hard to see something you are not looking for. you can do many things to make it easier for others to recognize you and your motorcycle.

They tell others what you plan to do. help others notice you by flashing your brake light before you slow down. thinking you plan to turn again. it’s a good idea to flash your brake light before you slow. drivers approaching from behind are more likely to see your turn signal blinking and make room for you. It is especially important to flash your brake light before you slow: • For a tight. fast turn off a highspeed highway. If the situation permits. Brake Light Your motorcycle’s brake light is usually not as noticeable as a vehicle’s—especially when the taillight is on. . use hand signals. Signal your left or right turn during the last 100 feet before reaching the turning point. be sure to turn them off or a driver may pull directly into your path. turn signals are even more important. At highway speeds. If bright sunlight makes your turn signal lights hard to see. it is best to signal at least five seconds before changing lanes. Use them anytime you plan to change lanes or turn. signals LEFT TURN RIGHT TURN SLOW or STOP However. due to a rider’s added vulnerability.21 - . Use your turn signals even when you think no one else is around. Your turn signals also make you easier to see. • Where others may not expect it (in the middle of a block or at an alley). Once you turn.Turn Signals The turn signals on a motorcycle are similar to those on a car. If you are being tailgated. Using your turn signals before each turn reduces confusion and frustration for the traffic around you. When you enter a freeway.

you can’t ignore situations behind you. They also make cars seem farther away than they really are. you signal a turn and the driver thinks you plan to turn at a distant intersection. he could be on top of you before he sees you. Frequent head checks should be part of your normal scanning routine. • Practicing with your mirrors until you become a good judge of distance. In order to make safe decisions about how to handle trouble ahead. Make a special point of using your mirrors: • When you are stopped at an intersection. turn your head and check that lane for other vehicles. or may be unsure about where you will slow. A driver in the distant lane may drive into the same space you plan to take. • Before you change lanes. The driver behind you may not expect you to slow. These mirrors provide a wider view of the road behind than flat mirrors. rather than at a nearer driveway. • Before you slow down. If the driver isn’t paying attention. • Then. Motorcycles have “blind spots” just like other vehicles. Before you change lanes.22 - . For example. you must know what is going on behind you. you can get familiar with them by: • Picking out a parked car in your mirror (while you are stopped). • Allowing extra distance before you change lanes. can you be fully prepared to deal with it. • Forming a mental image of how far away it is. Make sure no one is about to pass you. Traffic conditions change quickly. Head Checks Checking your mirrors is not enough. check the far lane and the one next to you.Using Your Mirrors While it’s most important to know what’s happening ahead. Only by knowing what is happening all around. Some motorcycles have rounded (convex) mirrors. Watch cars coming up from behind. BlinD spots . turning around and looking to see how close you came. If you are not used to convex mirrors. Frequent mirror checks should be part of your normal searching routine. On a road with several lanes.

so use it. Open up a three-second or more following distance. press the horn button loud and long. Here are some situations: • A driver in the lane next to you is driving too closely to the vehicle ahead and may want to pass. Change to the portion of the lane that helps you see. • Someone is in the street riding a bicycle or walking. Picking your motorcycle’s headlight or taillight out of the other lights is not easy for drivers. Your eyes rely upon shadows and light contrasts to determine how far away an object is and how fast it is com- ing. Taillights bouncing up and down can alert you to bumps or rough pavement. be seen. Use your high beam whenever you are not following or approaching another vehicle. Be visible. • Use Your High Beam. Ride even slower than you would during the day—particularly on roads you don’t know well. Other strategies may be appropriate along with the horn. These contrasts are missing or distorted at night. there will be times when you find yourself in a tight spot.Horn Be ready to use your horn to get someone’s attention quickly. It is a good idea to give a quick beep before passing anyone that may move into your lane. Wear reflective materials when riding at night. The headlights of the car ahead can give you a better view of the road than your high beam. but don’t rely on it. Get all the light you can. Your chances of getting out safely depend on your ability to react quickly and properly. You can’t always stop quickly to avoid an obstacle. • Be Flexible about lane position. Riding at Night At night it is harder for you to see and be seen. Two skills critical in avoiding a collision are knowing when and how to stop or swerve. • Increase Distance. • A driver is seated in a parked car ahead. a collision occurs because a rider is not prepared or skilled in collision-avoidance maneuvers. Often. In an emergency. • Use the Car Ahead. You must also be able to swerve around an obstacle. Studies show that most collisions involved riders who: . you should: • Reduce Your Speed. Distances are harder to judge at night than during the day. collision avoiDance No matter how careful you are. Be ready to stop or swerve away from the danger. To make up for this. and keep an adequate space cushion. This increases your chances of avoiding a hazard. Allow more distance to pass and be passed. Remember that a motorcycle’s horn isn’t as loud as a car’s.23 - .

you can keep it locked until you have completely stopped. At the same time. NOTE: Even with a locked rear wheel.• Underbrake the front tire and overbrake the rear. As you slow. you can control the motorcycle on a straightaway if it is upright and going in a straight line. the best technique is to straighten the motorcycle first and then brake. Don’t be shy about using the front brake. you should “straighten” the handlebars. it may not always be possible to straighten the motorcycle and then stop. Squeeze the brake lever firmly with continuing steady pressure. apply the brakes lightly and reduce the throttle. If you must stop quickly while turning or riding a curve. Swerving or Turning Quickly Sometimes you may not have enough room to stop. The front brake can provide almost three-quarters of your stopping power. Always use both brakes at the same time to stop. If you accidentally lock the rear brake on a good traction surface. • Did not separate braking from swerving or did not choose to swerve when it was appropriate. An object might appear suddenly in your path or the car ahead might stop abruptly. even if you use both brakes properly.24 - . However. Quick Stops To stop quickly. reduce your lean angle and apply more brake pressure until the motorcycle is straight and maximum brake pressure is possible. If the front wheel locks. The motorcycle should now be straight up and in balance. then Brake Brake. apply both brakes at the same time. Then in the last few feet of stopping. press down on the rear brake. If you must brake while leaning. release the front brake immediately and then reapply it firmly. then sWerve . The only way to avoid a collision sWerve. but don’t “grab” it either.

separate it from swerving. If there is no traffic. Every curve is different.may be to turn quickly or swerve around it. . Make your escape route the target of your vision. To swerve to the right. To swerve to the left. Your best path may not always follow the curve of the road. the more the motorcycle must lean. As you turn. move toward the inside of the curve. press right. It can be two quick turns. or a rapid shift to the side. gradually widens. Another choice is to move to the center of your lane before entering a curve and stay there until you exit. Press on the opposite handlegrip once you clear the obstacle and are ready to return to your original direction of travel. press the left handlegrip. Change your lane position based on traffic. Ride within your skill level and posted speed limits. Brake before or after—never while swerving. and curve of the road. apply a small amount of hand pressure to the handlegrip on the side of your intended direction of escape. Be alert to whether a curve remains constant. This causes the motorcycle to lean quickly. or involves multiple turns. Cornering A primary cause of single-vehicle collisions is motorcyclists running wide in a curve or turn and colliding with the roadway or a fixed object. If braking is required. Keep your knees against the tank and your feet solidly on the pegs. Let the motorcycle move underneath you. start at the outside of a curve to increase your line of sight and the effective radius of the turn. A swerve is any sudden change in direction. move to the outside to exit. You can also adjust for traffic “crowding” the center line or debris blocking part of your lane. The sharper the turn(s). gets tighter. This allows you to see approaching traffic as soon as possible. Keep your body upright and allow the motorcycle to lean in the direction of the turn.25 - . then left. road conditions. then press the right to recover. and as you pass the center. To swerve.

26 - . or small pieces of highway trash. potholes. • Grooves and gratings. If you have to ride over the obstacle.constant curves multiple curves Decreasing curves WiDening curves hanDling Dangerous surfaces Your chance of falling or being involved in a collision increases whenever you ride across: • Uneven surfaces or obstacles. first determine if it’s possible. broken pavement. if you must go over the obstacle. • Railroad tracks or pavement seams. . • Make sure the motorcycle is straight. • Slippery surfaces. However. Approach it at as close to a 90° angle as possible. you should: • Slow down as much as possible before contact. Uneven Surfaces and Obstacles Watch for uneven surfaces such as bumps. Avoid obstacles by slowing or going around them. Look where you want to go to control your path of travel.

Surfaces with poor traction include: • Wet pavement. Ride on the least slippery portion of the lane and reduce your speed. keep your motorcycle straight up and proceed as slowly as possible. When slippery. turn. If you can’t avoid an icy or snowy surface. roll on the throttle slightly to lighten the front end. or brake. consider letting your feet skim along the surface. depending on traffic and other road conditions as well. • Lane markings. • Mud. and manhole covers. • Gravel roads or where sand and gravel collect. It is especially important to reduce speed before entering wet curves. and ice. especially when wet. When it starts to rain. Slow down before you get to a slippery surface to reduce your chances of skidding. Any sudden change in speed or direction can cause a skid. pull off the road and check your tires and rims for damage before riding any farther. Slippery Surfaces Motorcycles handle better on surfaces with good traction. To ride safely on slippery surfaces: • Reduce Speed. Dirt and gravel collect along the sides of the road. especially on curves and ramps leading to and from highways. your motorcycle needs more distance to stop. • Just before contact. Be as smooth as possible when you speed up. The front brake is still effective. shift gears. even on a slippery surface. snow.27 - . If you ride over an object. Remember to use gentle pressure on the rear brake. particularly just after it starts to rain and before surface oil washes to the side of the road. Cautious riders steer clear of roads covered with ice or snow. or travel at a walking pace. ride in a vehicle’s tire tracks. the left tire track will be the best lane position. Squeeze the brake lever gradually to avoid locking the front wheel.• Rise slightly off the seat with your weight on the footpegs to absorb the shock with your knees and elbows and avoid being thrown off the motorcycle. • Remember That the Center of a Lane Can be Hazardous When Wet. • Watch For Oil Spots when you put your foot down to stop or park. You may slip and fall. Often. Patches of ice tend to develop in low or shaded areas and on bridges and overpasses. • Avoid Sudden Moves. • Be Cautious of the Edge of the Road. steel plates. • Use Both Brakes. • Remember Rain Dries and Snow Melts Faster on Some Sections of a Road than on others. If you encounter a large surface so slippery that you must coast. If . Wet leaves are just as slippery as wet road surfaces.

This uneasy. Attempting this maneuver at anything other than the slowest of speeds could prove hazardous. Here are some guidelines that can help you handle mechanical problems safely. Turning to take tracks head-on (at a 90° angle) can be more dangerous because your path may carry you into another lane of traffic. Grooves and Gratings Riding over rain grooves or bridge gratings may cause your motorcycle to weave. ruts. “wandering” feeling is generally not hazardous. Be sure to keep off the brakes. you can catch yourself. Crossing at an angle forces riders to zigzag to stay in the lane.28 - . In dealing with any mechanical problem. it may be a tire failure. grate crossing-Wrong grate crossing-right crossing tracks-right mechanical proBlems You can find yourself in an emergency the moment something goes wrong with your motorcycle. If possible. crossing tracks-Wrong .the motorcycle starts to fall. Edging across could catch your tires and throw you off balance. Railroad or Trolley Tracks and Pavement Seams Usually it is safer to ride straight within your lane to cross tracks. If the motorcycle starts handling differently. sharp turn. squeeze the clutch and coast. The zigzag is far more hazardous than the wandering feeling. make a quick. Then. For track and road seams that run parallel to your course. or pavement seams to cross at an angle of at least 45°. take into account the road and traffic conditions you face. Tire Failure You will seldom hear a tire go flat. move far enough away from tracks. Relax and maintain a steady speed and ride straight across.

ease off the throttle. unsuitable accessories. • Move your weight as far forward and down as possible. Center the weight lower and farther forward on the motorcycle. If the throttle cable is stuck. • When the motorcycle slows. the steering will feel “heavy. Instead: • Grip the handlebars firmly. worn steering parts. or incorrect tire pressure. squeeze the clutch. braking could make the wobble worse. this may free it. If the rear tire goes flat. If you can’t lighten the load. if you are sure which one it is. Stop riding and check the tires as soon as possible. though engine noise may not immediately decline. or out of balance. Trying to “accelerate out of a wobble” will only make the motorcycle more unstable. shift it. After you have stopped. spring pre-load. air shocks. ride to the side of the road. immediately operate the engine cut-off switch and pull in the clutch at the same time. You have to steer well to keep your balance. but don’t fight the wobble. Most wobbles can be traced to improper loading. . check the throttle cable carefully to find the trouble. and keep a straight course. misaligned. • If braking is required. and swing arm bearings. Do not apply the brakes. loose wheel bearings or spokes. If either tire goes flat while riding: • Hold the handlegrips firmly. react quickly to keep your balance. the back of the motorcycle may jerk or sway from side to side. Make sure the tire pressure. This will remove power from the rear wheel. • Close the throttle gradually to slow down.29 - . Make certain the throttle works freely before you start riding again. Make sure windshields and fairings are mounted properly. and dampers are at the recommended settings for that much weight.” A front-wheel flat is particularly hazardous because it affects your steering. If the throttle stays stuck. Stuck Throttle Twist the throttle back and forth several times. If you are carrying a heavy load. If the front tire goes flat. gradually apply the brake of the tire that isn’t flat. and stop.You must be able to tell from the way the motorcycle reacts if you have tire failure. If one of your tires suddenly loses air. Check for poorly adjusted steering. Wobble A “wobble” occurs when the front wheel and handlebars suddenly start to shake from side to side at any speed. Once the motorcycle is “under control. lighten it. have the motorcycle thoroughly checked by a qualified professional.” leave the road and stop. If none of these are the cause. a front wheel that is bent.

loose sand. however. making it difficult to see. Keep control of your motorcycle. Without face protection. slow way down before you turn onto it. Motorcycles seem to attract dogs. or pebbles kicked up by the tires of the vehicle ahead. pull off the road. add oil as soon as possible or the engine will seize. Check the oil. Tightening the chain may help. Chain Problems A chain that slips or breaks while you’re riding could lock the rear wheel and cause your motorcycle to skid. or both before riding again. Close the throttle and brake to a stop. Whatever happens. flying oBjects From time to time riders are struck by insects. Check the chain and sprockets. Let the engine cool before restarting. an object could hit you in the eye. it might get smeared or cracked. When this happens. . if needed. accelerate away and leave the animal behind. If the chain slips when you try to speed up or ride uphill. or if you’re just not sure about it. If you are chased. Pull off the road and stop. • Slippage. in traffic. As you approach it. be sure you: • Check the roadside. If needed. pull off the road and repair the damage. Make sure the roadside is firm enough to ride on. elk. The first sign may be a loss of engine power or a change in the engine’s sound. If you are wearing face protection. face.• Leave the road as soon as you can to fix the problem. Chain slippage or breakage can be avoided by proper maintenance. getting off the roaD animals Do everything you safely can do to avoid hitting an animal. the effect is the same as a locked rear wheel. Squeeze the clutch lever to disengage the engine from the rear wheel. If the engine’s moving parts can’t move smoothly against each other. Engine Seizure When the engine “locks” or “freezes” it is usually low on oil. cattle) brake and prepare to stop—they are unpredictable. For larger animals (deer. • Breakage—You’ll notice an instant loss of power to the rear wheel. If it is soft grass.30 - . the sprockets. Don’t kick at an animal. When safe. Hitting something small is less dangerous to you than hitting something big—like a car. or mouth. cigarettes thrown from vehicles. Replace the chain. keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the handlebars. If you are If you need to leave the road to check the motorcycle (or just to rest for a while). downshift and approach the animal slowly. remain in your lane. the engine overheats.

carrying passengers anD cargo • Footrests for the passenger. speeds up. Check your mirror and make a head check before you take any action. Before taking a passenger or a heavy load on the street. or belt. You don’t want someone else leaving the road at the same place you are. Equipment should include: • A proper seat large enough to hold both of you without crowding. Equipment To carry passengers safely: • E q u i p a n d a d j u s t y o u r motorcycle to carry passengers. • Sit as far forward as possible without crowding you. Give a clear signal that you will be slowing and changing direction. too. You will probably need to add a few pounds of pressure to the tires if you carry a passenger. or moving parts. • Hold firmly to your waist. • Keep legs away from the muffler(s). • Adjust your riding technique for the added weight. Also.• Signal. hips.31 - . • Avoid unnecessary talk or motion. (Check your owner’s manual for appropriate settings. • Pull off the road. provide complete instructions before you start. • Protective equipment should be the same protective gear recommended for operators.) While your passenger sits on the seat with you. • Instruct the passenger before you start. balances. It can be very hard to see a motorcycle by the side of the road. practice away from traffic. • Stay directly behind you leaning as you lean. • Keep both feet on the pegs. Tell your passenger to: • Get on the motorcycle only after you have started the engine. . Loose and sloped shoulders can make setting the side or center stand difficult. Adjust the suspension to handle the additional weight. and slows down. Instructing Passengers Even if your passenger is a motorcycle rider. tell your passenger to tighten his or her hold when you: Only experienced riders should carry passengers or large loads. Firm footing prevents your passenger from falling off and pulling you off. even when stopped. chains. The extra weight changes the way the motorcycle handles. adjust the mirror and headlight according to the change in the motorcycle’s angle. You should not sit any farther forward than you usually do. Drivers behind might not expect you to slow down. Get as far off the road as you can. • Park carefully.

Fasten the load securely with elastic cords (bungee cords or nets). Small loads can be carried safely. or in front of. • Are about to start from a stop. Ropes tend to stretch and knots can come loose. corners. Stop and check the load often to make sure it has not worked loose or moved. • Open up a larger cushion of space ahead and to the sides. the rear axle. • Secure the Load. • Wait for larger gaps to cross. turning sharply. or merge with traffic. • Warn that you will make a sudden move. • Begin slowing sooner as you approach a stop. but use caution when loading hard or sharp objects. do it in a way that promotes safety and doesn’t interfere with the flow of traffic. Load saddlebags with about the same weight. or riding over bumps. • Keep the Load Forward. Warn your passenger of these special conditions: Starting. An uneven load can cause the motorcycle to drift to one side. group riDing If you ride with others. especially when taking curves. or put them in saddlebags. the longer it will take to slow down and speed up—especially on a light-duty motorcycle. • Ride a little slower. The heavier your passenger. enter. Mounting a load behind the rear axle affects how the motorcycle turns and brakes. • Keep the Load Low. A tight load won’t catch in the wheel or chain. • Distribute the Load Evenly. • Check the Load. A small number isn’t separated as easily by traffic or red lights. Riding With Passengers Your motorcycle will respond more slowly with a passenger. Tank bags keep loads forward. if positioned and fastened properly. Turn your head slightly to make yourself understood. causing it to lock up and skid. Fasten loads securely. Elastic cords with more than one attachment point per side are more secure. stopping quickly.• Approach surface problems.32 - . Some riders won’t always be hurrying to . or bumps. Carrying Loads Most motorcycles are not designed to carry much cargo. Place the load over. Make sure the tank bag does not interfere with handlebars or controls. Keep the Group Small Small groups make it easier and safer for other drivers to get around them. Stacking loads against a sissybar or frame on the back of the seat raises the motorcycle’s center of gravity and shifts its balance. permitting the load to shift or fall. It can also cause a wobble. but keep your eyes on the road ahead.

• Staggered Formation. Let the last rider set the pace. Then. this formation must be done properly. The fourth rider keeps a two-second distance behind the second rider.catch up. the leader returns to staggereD formation . wait until you are both stopped. Start lane changes early to permit everyone to complete the lane change safely. There is no place to go to avoid a car or a hazard on the road. • Put Beginners Up Front. A close group takes up less space on the highway. • Follow Those Behind. Make sure everyone knows the route. is easier to see.33 - . To talk. Keep the Group Together • Plan. Keep Your Distance Maintain close ranks but at the same time keep a safe distance to allow each rider in the group time and space to react to hazards. A third rider rides in the left portion of the lane two seconds behind the first rider. This is the best way to keep ranks close yet maintain an adequate space cushion. • Know the Route. and to the sides. – First. Never operate directly alongside another rider. if someone is separated he/she won’t have to hurry to keep from getting lost or taking a wrong turn. divide it into two or more smaller groups. However. everyone should slow down a little to stay together. Place inexperienced riders behind the leader so the more experienced riders can watch them. behind. After passing. The leader rides in the left portion of the lane while the second rider stays one second behind in the right portion of the lane. Plan frequent stops on long rides. Use your mirrors to keep an eye on the person behind. the lead rider pulls out and passes when safe. This formation keeps the group close and permits each rider a safe distance from others ahead. The leader should look ahead for changes and signal early so there is plenty of time for everyone to follow. and is less likely to be separated. • Don’t Pair Up. If your group is larger than four or five riders. – Passing in formation. Riders in a staggered formation should pass one at a time. If a rider falls behind.

This is not a good idea. a 5-ounce glass of 12% wine. But a variety of other factors may also influence the level of alcohol retained. this rider returns to the right portion of the lane and opens up room for the next rider. Alcohol and other drugs. the more alcohol accumulates in your body. Skilled riders pay attention to their riding environment and to operating the motorcycle. or have taken medicines or drugs. BlooD alcohol concentration BeiNG iN shaPe to riDe Riding a motorcycle is a demanding and complex task. sick.34 - . at the . If you drink two drinks in an hour.the left portion of the lane and continues riding at “passing speed” to open room for the next rider. Generally. malt liquors. making good judgments. • Your body weight. Move into a single-file formation when riding curves. or a 12-ounce glass of 5% beer. It encourages the second rider to pass and return to the lane before there is a large enough space cushion in front of the passed vehicle. • Single-File Formation. the greater the degree of impairment. or entering or leaving a highway. upset. “One drink” is a 1 1/2-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor (even if mixed with non-alcoholic drinks). The more alcohol in your blood. turning. The faster you drink. These “one drink” equivalents change if you drink ale. After passing. • How fast you drink. It’s simpler and safer to wait until there is enough room ahead of the passed vehicle to allow each rider to move into the same position held before the pass. – After the first rider passes safely. Your ability to perform and respond to changing road and traffic conditions is influenced by how fit and alert you are. Three factors play a major part in determining BAC: • The amount of alcohol you consume. and executing decisions quickly and skillfully. affect your ability to think clearly and to ride safely. or fortified wines or if you drink on an empty stomach. – Some people suggest that the leader should move to the right portion of the lane after passing a vehicle. more than any other factor. alcohol can be eliminated in the body at the rate of almost one drink per hour. As little as one alcoholic drink can have a significant effect on your performance. Blood alcohol concentration or BAC is the amount of alcohol in relation to blood in the body. the second rider moves up to the left portion of the lane and watches for a safe chance to pass. identifying potential hazards. are tired.

Avoid riding when tired. Stop and get off the motorcycle at least every two hours.08% or above is considered intoxicated. • Take frequent rest breaks. your resistance becomes weaker. alcohol anD the laW In California. The California Driver Handbook has more information. including yourself.35 - . are involved in a collision which causes more than $750 in property damage to one person. and rain make you tire quickly. A breath or blood test is what usually determines whether you are riding legally or illegally. is injured. . no matter how slightly. A windshield is worth its cost if you plan to ride long distances. wine.01% or more (CVC §23136). at least one drink will remain in your bloodstream. Wind. If you haven’t controlled your drinking. Artificial stimulants often result in extreme fatigue or depression as they start to wear off. including yourself. Experienced riders seldom try to ride more than about six hours a day. If you. or legal representative) must report the collision to DMV. a person 21 years of age or older with a BAC of . you must control your riding. fatigue Riding a motorcycle is more tiring than driving a car. You won’t be able to concentrate on the task at hand. • Protect yourself from the elements. you (or your insurance agent. cold. or in which anyone. especially on a long trip. You must make this report within 10 days on the Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California minimize the risks Minimize the risks of drinking and riding by taking the following steps: Don’t Drink. It doesn’t matter how sober you may look or act. IMPORTANT: You cannot legally purchase beer. Your chances of being stopped for riding under the influence of alcohol are increasing. The law is very strict if you are under 21 and drive with a BAC that is 0. Or Don’t Ride. Law enforcement is being stepped up across the country in response to the senseless deaths and injuries caused by drinking drivers and riders. broker. Dress warmly. • Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs. The CHP or police will not make this report. Fatigue can affect your control of the motorcycle. or hard liquor if you are under the age of 21. as an operator. • Limit your distance. Once you start.end of that hour. MotorcYcle iNsUraNce Facts The financial responsibility sections of the California Vehicle Code apply to all two-wheel vehicle owners and operators.

• Avoid running over young trees.000 nor more than $10. or to cut across a switchback. You can get this form from any DMV or CHP office. This form is also available on DMV’s web site at www.3[a]). treaD liGhtlY! The U. The stress uses up their limited energy reserves. or seven years or in a county jail for not more than one year. Learn the rules and follow them. wet roads and trails readily torn up by vehicles.ca.dmv. Know where the boundaries are. five.gov. • Obey gate closures and regulatory signs. If a person is convicted of killing anyone during the course of a police pursuit (CVC §2800. • Resist the urge to pioneer a new road or trail. he/she is subject to: • Imprisonment in a state prison for three. Forest Service (USFS).3[b]).000. six. • Travel around meadows. If a person is convicted of causing serious bodily injury during the course of a police pursuit (CVC §2800. • Both that fine and imprisonment. shrubs. Check with your insurance company about your coverage before you buy or ride a motorcycle. or ten years. Vandalism costs tax dollars. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). steep hillsides. or regulations from other public land agencies. and grasses—this can damage or kill them. . • Stay off soft. • Stay out of designated wilderness areas. • Stay away from wild animals that are rearing young—or suffering from food shortages. • Get permission to travel across private lands. eVaDiNG a Peace oFFicer Any person who willfully flees or attempts to evade a peace officer performing his/her duties is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year (CVC §2800.1). • A fine of not less than $2. he/she is subject to imprisonment in a state prison for four. Refer to the California Driver Handbook for more information. and California Department of Parks and Recreation would like you to TREAD LIGHTLY! • Obtain a Travel Map from your local USFS or BLM office. or stream banks and lake shores easily scarred by churning wheels.36 - . Respect landowner rights.S.(SR1) form.

PL AD AC EM EN T .37 - .


.PL AD AC EM EN T Products or services provided by advertisers are not promoted or endorsed by DMV.

3/2010) .Products or services provided by advertisers are not promoted or endorsed by DMV. State. Name: __________________________________________________________________ Address: ________________________________________________________________ City. ZIP Code: ______________________________________________________ DL 665 English (REV.

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