Motorcycle

H A N D B O O K

ST A

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor State of California

2009
O TE
F CALIFO R
A NI

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
Lane Positions ..........................13
Following Another Vehicle ........14
Being Followed ........................14
Passing and Being Passed......14
Passing.....................................15
Being Passed...........................15
Lane Sharing............................15
Merging Cars ...........................16
Cars Alongside.........................16
Search, Evaluate, and
Execute (SEE) ..........................16
Search ......................................16
Evaluate....................................17
Execute.....................................17
Intersections ................................17
Blind Intersections....................18
Passing Parked Cars................18
Parking at the Roadside...........19
Increasing Visibility......................19
Clothing ....................................20
Headlight..................................20
Turn Signals..............................20
Brake Light ...............................21
Using Your Mirrors ....................21
Head Checks ...........................22
Horn..........................................22
Riding at Night .........................22
Crash Avoidance .........................23
Quick Stops..............................23
Swerving or Turning
Quickly...................................24
Cornering .................................24
Handling Dangerous
Surfaces ...................................25
Uneven Surfaces and
Obstacles ..............................26
Slippery Surfaces.....................26
Railroad or Trolley Tracks and
Pavement Seams...................27
Grooves and Gratings ..............27
Mechanical Problems ..................28
Tire Failure................................28
Stuck Throttle............................28
Wobble .....................................28
Chain Problems........................29
Engine Seizure .........................29

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...............9
Know Your Responsibilities..........10

riDe WithiN YoUr aBilities....... 11

Basic Vehicle Control................... 11
Body Position ........................... 11
Shifting Gears........................... 11
Braking.....................................12
Turning......................................12
Keeping Your Distance ................13

-i­

Animals .......................................29
Flying Objects..............................29
Getting Off The Road...................30
Carrying Passengers
and Cargo.................................30
Equipment ................................30
Instructing Passengers ............31
Riding With Passengers ...........31
Carrying Loads.........................31
Group Riding ...............................32
Keep the Group Small..............32
Keep the Group Together .........32
Keep Your Distance ..................32

BeiNG iN shaPe to riDe ............ 34

Blood Alcohol Concentration ....... 34
Alcohol and the Law .................... 34
Minimize the Risks ......................35
Fatigue ........................................35

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

Disclaimer
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 2009
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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m. -1­ . Call one of the toll-free numbers below or go online to find the locations and business hours of an office near you.ca.m. pointment. directions. It’s open 24 hours a day. – Persons with speech or hearing – A driving test appointment. please call the Office of State Publishing Advertising Department at 1-866-824-0603. brochures. tion using a check. debit card. to speak to a Number provided on your bill­ DMV representative for: ing notice. Go online at: www. helps defray the printing costs of this publication. impairments can call. and 5 p. to 5 p. and Friday and from 9 a. but the significant contribution by the advertising sponsors is most appreciated.m. instead of your fees. You will need to • Call 1-800-777-0133 between have the Renewal Identification 8 a. – Driver license and vehicle – Make a non-driving test ap­ registration information. • TTY – Office locations and hours. hours. sample tests • Senior driver information • Teen driver information • Links to other state and federal agencies Advertising sponsorship. If you would like to advertise in this publication. toll free. Thursday. to 5 p. on Wednesday.dmv. DMV has two TOLL-FREE telephone numbers. forms.DMV iNForMatioN DMV field offices are open 8 a. The products and services provided by the advertising sponsors are not promoted or endorsed by DMV. Tuesday. or credit card. 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. A few offices offer only driver license or vehicle registration service.m.m. 7 messages from another TTY days a week to: are received and responded to – Renew your vehicle registra­ at this number. and publications.gov for: • Online services • Field offices—locations.m. • Call 1-800-921-1117 for DMV’s 1-800-368-4327 for assistance 24-hour voice recognition syswith DMVservices. on Monday. Only typed tem.

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

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

practices. • Pass an eye exam. NOTE: The Class M1/M2 permit does not allow you to carry pas­ sengers and you must ride during daylight hours only and not on a freeway. They require that you know and under­ stand road rules and safe riding practices. NOTE: Class C licensees may operate a motorcycle with a side car attached or a three-wheel motorcycle. Knowl­ edge test questions are based on information. DMV’s licensing exams are designed to be scored objectively. application requirements — all Drivers These are the requirements if you already have a basic class driver license. • Pass an additional law test on motorcycle driving rules. Refer to the California Driver Handbook for basic class driver license requirements. Basic riDer course Motorcycle applicants are encour­ aged to enroll in the Basic Rider Course offered by the California Mo­ -4­ . CMSP has trained thousands of riders over the past several years. or a motorized scooter. earning your license Safe riding requires knowledge and skill. you must: • Submit a completed DMV ap­ plication form (DL 44). or a bicycle with an attached motor. Motorcycle law tests and skill tests are required. To obtain your license. 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. • Have your picture taken. and ideas from this manual. For more information you may contact CMSP at 1-877-RIDE­ 411. • Pay the required application fee. This course offers hands-on motor­ cycle skill training for novice and returning riders. The DMV motorcycle skills test is waived upon completion and submission of the Basic Rider Course. You may obtain a Class M1 or M2 license at any DMV office which provides driver license services. • 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. To obtain an instruction permit to operate an M1/M2 vehicle on public roads. • Give a thumb print.• Class M2—You may operate any motorized bicycle. you must pass a knowledge test and an on-cycle skill test. An on-cycle skill test will either be conducted in an actual traf­ fic environment or in a controlled off-street area. moped. torcyclist Safety Program (CMSP).

-5­ . The skill test is waived for any per­ son presenting a valid DL 389. • Be 18 years of age. • Pass a road test. or OL 238). If you complete this motorcycle training course and submit a valid DL389. * The term parents means both custodial parents unless only one parent has custody. you must: • Complete the application require­ ments. Additionally.minors’ m1/m2 permit requirements To obtain a Class M1/M2 permit. or all legal guardians unless only one legal guardian has custody. or older. For more information and to lo­ cate the nearest training site. license requirements — all Drivers To obtain a Class M1/M2 license. you must: • Be 15 ½ years of age and bring proof you have finished both driver education and driver training. you must: • Complete the application and per­ mit requirements listed above. if you are applying for a Class M1/M2 license only. (DL 387. • Pass a DMV skill test or present a DL 389 to waive the skill test. you can attend a CHP approved motorcycle training course. • Be at least 16 years old. Check with your insurance company to see if you qualify for a reduced rate. • Applicants under 21 years of age are required by law to provide a Completion of Motorcycle Training certificate (DL 389) from an approved CHP motor­ cycle rider training course. your insurance cost may be re­ duced. DL 388. the knowledge and skills you learn in this motorcycle rider training course may help you avoid a serious injury or a fatal collision. • If you are 21 years of age or older. minors’ m1/m2 license requirements To obtain a Class M1/M2 license. • Complete the application require­ ments. you must: • Complete the requirements listed above. • Have your parents’ * signatures on the application form. Motorcycle training courses are located throughout California. aDults’ m1/m2 permit requirements To obtain a Class M1/M2 instruction permit. This motorcycle training course is highly recommended. OL 237. call 1-877-RIDE-411. DL 388A.

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

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

eye or face shield protection must: • Be free of scratches. loose padding or frayed straps. Clothing The right clothing protects you in a collision. The heels should be short so they do not catch on rough surfaces. Leather or a sturdy synthetic material offers the most protection. If you don’t have to deal with these types of problems. • Permit air to pass through. all the way around. Wear a jacket even in warm weather to prevent dehydration. Tinted eye protection should not be worn at night or any other time when little light is available. It also provides comfort. even on summer days. A windshield is not a substitute for a face shield or goggles. debris. Eye and Face Protection Aplastic shatter-resistant face shield can help protect your whole face in a crash. To be effective. and the hot and moving parts of the motorcycle. to reduce fogging. and they might blow off when you turn your head. • Give a clear view to either side. They should fit snugly enough to keep from flapping in the wind. slip-resistant material. • Fits snugly. rain. you can devote your full attention to the road. • Gloves allow a better grip and help protect your hands. Many are designed to protect without getting you overheated.• Has the DOT lettering on the back of the helmet for your safety. • Boots or shoes should be high and sturdy enough to cover your ankles and support them. if you are involved in a crash. so it does not blow off. but still allow you to move freely. Your -8­ . • Fasten securely. • Permit enough room for eyeglass­ es or sunglasses. it’s likely to fly off your head before it gets a chance to protect you. Soles should be made of hard. Goggles protect your eyes. Nei­ ther will eyeglasses or sunglasses. if needed. It also protects you from wind. Most windshields will not protect youreyesfrom the wind. cold. NOTE: The DOT lettering should not be a stick-on label or easily removed. durable. dirt. as well as protection from heat. and pebbles thrown up from the vehicles ahead. Glasses won’t keep your eyes from watering. dust. Other­ wise. Keep your helmet securely fastened on your head when you ride. • Jacket and pants should cover arms and legs completely. insects. but they don’t protect the rest of your face as a face shield does. Tuck in laces so they won’t catch on your motorcycle. • Be resistant to punctures. • Has no obvious defects such as cracks.

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

At a minimum. cables. In addition to the checks before ev­ ery trip. • Mirrors—Clean and adjust both mirrors before starting. • Brake Light—Try both brake controls and make sure each one turns on the brake light. Blame doesn’t matter when some­ one is injured in a crash. Get familiar with any motorcycle that is new to you. Riding an unfamiliar motorcycle adds to the problem. make critical decisions. check hydraulic fluids and coolants weekly. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. There is rarely a single cause of any crash. • Brakes—Try the front and rear brake levers one at a time. Look under the motorcycle for signs of an oil or gas leak. When properly adjusted. Once you are on the motorcycle. As a rider. Most often in traffic. Adjust each mirror so you can see the lane behind and as much as possible of the lane next to you. most people involved in a crash can usually claim some responsibility for what takes place. Make sure all lights work properly. Crashes are fairly common among new riders. 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. • Headlights and Taillight— Check them both. check the following items at least once a week: Wheels.) Re­ member that more than half of all crashes occur on motorcycles ridden by riders with less than six months experience. and tread. • Turn Signals—Turn on both right and left turn signals. complete the following checks be­ fore starting out: • ClutchandThrottle—Make sure they work smoothly. Make sure each one feels firm and holds the motorcycle when the brake is fully applied. Test your switch to make sure both high and low beams work. preferably in a controlled area. and carry them out sepa­ rates responsible riders from all the rest. or an unprepared participant in. The ability to be aware. The throttle should snap back when you let go. • Fluids—Oil and fluid levels. and fluids. general wear. ride extra carefully on any motorcycle that is new or unfamiliar to you. It is up to you to keep from being the cause of. • Horn—Make sure the horn works. In fact. The clutch should feel tight and smooth. you can’t be sure that others will see you or yield the right . any crash.• Tires—Check the air pressure. fasteners. knoW your responsiBilities “Accident” implies an unforeseen event that occurs without anyone’s fault or negligence. (No matter how experienced you may be. that is not the case.10 ­ .

adjust the handlebars so your hands are even with or below your elbows. use your headlight. or starting on hills is important for safe motorcycle operation. and ride in the best lane position to see and be seen. Don’t drag your feet or you could be injured and lose control of the motorcycle. To reduce the chances of a crash: • Be visible. Also.of way. and lane position. riDe WithiN YoUr aBilities This manual cannot teach you how to control direction. Remain alert and know how to carry out proper crash-avoidance skills. Start with your right wrist flat so you won’t accidentally use too much throttle. • Knees—Keep your knees against the gas tank to help with your bal­ ance as you turn the motorcycle. • Identify and separate multiple hazards. Allow yourself enough space when following. Keep your feet near the controls. Shifting Gears There is more to shifting gears than simply getting the motorcycle to pick up speed smoothly. passing. speed. • Hands—Hold the handlegrips firmly. and being passed. This allows you to use the proper muscles for precision steering. don’t point your toes downward—they may get caught between the road and the footpegs. Learning to use the gears when downshifting. turn­ ing. Ride slowly enough when you shift into a lower gear or the motorcycle will lurch and the rear wheel may skid. Look at least 10 to 15 seconds ahead. Also. or balance. lane sharing. Use the proper signals. brake light. • Seat—Sit far enough forward so your arms are slightly bent when . Remain in first gear while stopped so you can move out quickly if needed. You learn this only through practice and by knowing your abilities and riding within them. being fol­ lowed. • Feet—Keep your feet firmly on the footpegs for balance. • Maintain an adequate space cushion. When riding downhill or shift­ 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. Bending your arms permits you to press on the handlebars without having to stretch.11 ­ . holding the handlegrips. • Communicate your intentions. Shift down through thegears with the clutch as you slow or stop. • Scan your path of travel. Wear proper clothing. • Be prepared to act.

Slow—Reduce your speed before the turn by closing the throttle and. Use both brakes at the same time. Use four steps for better control: 1. sometimes you may need to shift while in the turn. the motorcycle must lean. REMEMBER: • Use both brakes every time you slow or stop. they overreact and brake too hard causing a skid and loss of control.) Turning Riders often try to take curves or turns too fast. Higher speeds and/or tighter turns require the motorcycle to lean more. if necessary. 2. Also. Grabbing at the front brake or jamming down on the rear brake can cause the brakes to lock and result in control problems. (Consult your owner’s manual. Use caution and squeeze the brake lever. When you lean the motorcycle. The front brake is more powerful and can provide at least three-quarters of your total stopping power. To lean the motorcycle. However. even clutch release especially when downshifting. Press left—lean left—go left. some of the traction is used for cornering and less traction is available for stopping. Or. Approach turns and curves with caution. never “grab” it. Using both brakes for “normal” stops permits you to develop the proper habit and skill of using both brakes prop­ erly. A skid can occur if you apply too much brake. • Some motorcycles have inte­ grated braking systems that link the front and rear brakes together when you apply the rear brake pedal. . Press right—lean right—go right. • If you know the technique. Squeeze the front brake and press down on the rear brake. 3. although it should be done very carefully. using both brakes in a turn is possible. which you may need in an emergency. applying both brakes. Remember to shift smoothly because a sudden change in power to the rear wheel can cause a skid. Turn only your head. Braking Your motorcycle has two brakes: one each for the front and rear wheel. When they can’t hold the turn. press on the handlegrip in the di­ rection of the turn.12 ­ . not your shoulders. The front brake is safe to use when you use it properly. Press—To turn. using the front brake incorrectly on a slippery surface may be hazardous. and keep your eyes level with the horizon. they end up cross­ ing into another lane of traffic or going off the road.ing into first gear you may need to slow to downshift safely. It is best to change gears before start­ ing a turn. Look—Look through the turn to where you want to go. Work toward a smooth.

4. as indicated in the illustration. keeping your Distance The best protection you can have is distance—a “cushion of space”—all around your motorcycle.13 ­ . Avoid riding on oil and grease buildups which are usually found at busy intersections or toll booths. If some­ one else makes a mistake. Maintain steady speed or accel­ erate gradually through the turn. the average oily center strip permits adequate traction on which to ride safely. Each traffic lane gives a motorcycle three paths of travel. Select the appropriate lane position to maximize your space cushion and make yourself more visible to others on the road. the rider should keep his/her body straight and only lean the motorcycle. • Space to maneuver. If vehicles are on both sides of you. • Communicate your intentions. • Help you avoid wind blasts from other vehicles. Roll—Roll on the throttle through the turn to stabilize suspension. Try to travel in the most heavily traveled portion of the traffic lane (path 1 or 3) where other vehicles tires have traveled. In general. distance gives you: • Time to react. • Provide an escape route. Your lane position should: • Increase your ability to see and be seen. • Protect your lane from other drivers. In slow tight turns. Ride in paths 2 or 3 if vehicles and other potential problems are on your left side. Unless the road is wet. Position yourself in the lane that allows the most visibility and space around you. This will help keep the motorcycle stable. the center of the lane (path 2) is usually the best option. lane positions • Avoid others’ blind spots. Lane Positions In some ways the size of the motor­ cycle can work to your advantage. the rider and the motorcycle should lean together at the same angle. . You can ride just to the left or right of the oily strip and still be within the center portion of the traffic lane. Change your lane position as traffic situations change. The oily strip in the center portion of the lane is usually no more than two feet wide. In normal turns. there is no “best lane position” for riders in which to be seen and to maintain a space cushion around the motorcycle.

or traffic is heavy. Normally. slow down and open up extra space ahead of you which will allow space for both you and the tailgater to stop. If you can’t do this. .” you are following too closely. If you ride in the left or right portion of the lane. 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. But re­ member that most drivers don’t look at their side view mirrors as often as they check the rearview mirror. But if the tailgater doesn’t pass. if the driver ahead stops suddenly. or someone may squeeze in front of you. When behind a vehicle. one-thou­ sand-two. visibility is more critical. you should maintain a two-second following distance.” • If you reach the marker before you reach “two. You will need a larger space cushion if your motorcycle takes longer than normal to stop. However. count off the seconds: “one-thousand-one. It also gives you a better view of potholes and other road hazards. To gauge your following distance: • Ahead of you. Passing and Being Passed Passing and being passed by a larger vehicle is not much different than with a smaller passenger vehicle. In traffic. keep well behind the vehicle ahead of you. motorcycles need as much distance to stop as cars.Following Another Vehicle “Following too closely” (tailgat­ ing) could be a factor in crashes involving motorcyclists. A two-second following distance gives you a minimum amount of space to stop or swerve. If you ride in the center portion of the lane. When you are stopped. This will also encourage the tailgater to pass. or you cannot see through the vehicle ahead.14 ­ . the driver may see you in his/her side view mirror. 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. you have at least given yourself and the tailgater more time and space to react in case an emergency develops. Open up a threesecond or more following distance when the pavement is slippery. So if the traffic situation allows. you only end up with someone tailgating you at a higher speed. • When the rear bumper of the vehicle ahead of you passes the marker. Being Followed When you speed up to lose a tail­ gater. your im­ age should be in the middle of the driver’s rearview mirror—where he/ she is more likely to see you. ride where the driver can see you in his/her rearview mirror. pick out a marker such as a pavement marking or lamp post. A better way to handle tailgaters is to allow them to pass you. Be sure other drivers see you and that you see potential hazards.

Remember. A car could turn suddenly or change lanes. It might invite the other driver to move back into your lane too early.15 ­ . Lane Sharing Cars and motorcycles each need a full lane to operate safely. Discourage lane sharing by others. When safe. Signal and check for oncoming traffic. Ride through the driver’s blind spot as quickly as possible. or a hand could come out of a window. and only where permitted. passing must be com­ pleted within posted speed limits. • When they want to pass you. bumper-to-bumper traffic. Ride in the left portion of your lane at a safe following distance to increase your line of sight and make you more visible. • When you are moving into an exit lane or leaving a highway. Riding between rows of stopped or moving cars in the same lane can leave you vulnerable. a door could open. • Extended mirrors—Some driv­ ers forget that their mirrors hang out farther than their fenders. Use your mirrors and turn your head to look for traffic behind. Keep a center position whenever drivers might be tempted to squeeze by you. • Blasts of wind from larger vehicles—They can affect your control. 2. Lane sharing is not safe. • Objects thrown from windows—Even if the driver knows you are there. Select a lane posi­ tion that doesn’t crowd the car you are passing and provides space to avoid hazards in your lane. 3. Then cancel your turn signal. Do not move into the portion of the lane farthest from the passing vehicle. a passenger may not see you and might toss something on you or the road ahead of you. move into the left lane and accelerate. stay in the center portion of your lane. . • When you are preparing to turn at an intersection. Riding any closer could put you in a hazardous situation. Being Passed When you are being passed from behind or by an oncoming vehicle. You have more room for error if you are in the middle por­ tion of the lane when hit by this blast than if you are on either the left or right portions of the lane. Avoid being hit by: • The othervehicle—Aslight mis­ take by you or the passing driver could cause a sideswipe. Drivers are most tempted to do this: • In heavy. 4.Passing 1. Signal again and complete mirror and head checks before returning to your original lane.

anD execute (see) Experienced riders remain aware of what is going on around them. and behind to help you avoid poten­ tial hazards. a three-step process for making appropriate judgments and applying them correctly in different traffic situations. Speed up or drop back to find a place clear of traffic on both sides. Change to another lane if one is open. can eliminate or reduce harm.Merging Cars Drivers on an entrance ramp may not see you on the highway. or school and construction zones. Cars Alongside Do not ride next to passenger ve­ hicles or trucks in other lanes if you don’t have to because you might be in the driver’s blind spot. The driver could change lanes without warning. Give them plenty of room. SEE stands for: Search. . BlinD spots merging search. Also. to the sides. If there is no room for a lane change. evaluate. Search Actively search ahead. Evaluate. adjust your speed to open up space for the merging driver. shopping areas.16 ­ . vehicles in the next lane can block your escape if you come upon danger in your own lane. They improve their riding strategy by using SEE. Fo­ cus even more on finding potential escape routes in or around intersec­ tions. and Execute. How you search and how much time and space you have.

Apply the old saying “one step at a time” to handle two or more hazards. regulatory signs. It can be in the middle of an urban area or at a driveway on a residential street. shopping areas. and pavement markings will help you evaluate circumstances ahead. • Vehicles and other traffic may move into your path and increase the likelihood of a crash. • Traffic control devices such as traffic signals. right. guardrails. Anticipate potential problems and have a plan to reduce risks. Think about your time and space requirements in order to maintain a margin of safety. To create more space and minimize harm from any hazard: • Communicate your presence with lights and/or your horn. Evaluate Think about how hazards can create risks for you. Decision-making becomes more complex with three or more hazards. warning signs. Adjust your speed so you can deal with each hazard separately. or school and construction zones. stopping. cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce your reac­ tion time. intersections The greatest potential for conflict between you and other traffic is at intersections. • Adjust your lane position and/ or direction of travel. Over one-half of motorcycle/ passenger vehicle crashes are caused by drivers entering a rider’s right-of­ way. You must leave yourself time to react if an emer­ gency arises.Search for factors such as: • Oncoming traffic that may turn left in front of you. An intersection is any­ where traffic may cross your path. Execute Carry out your decision. Vehicles that turn left in front of you. such as intersec­ tions. telephone poles and trees won’t move into your path but may influence your riding strategy. • Hazardous road conditions.17 ­ . In high-risk areas. • Traffic coming from either the left. Then deal with them one at a time as single hazards. bridges. or slowing. • Road and surface characteristics such as potholes. or behind. including those illegally turning left from the wrong lane. • Adjust your speed by accelerating. Weigh the consequences of each and give equal distance to the hazards. and cars on large intersections .

stay toward the left portion of your lane. move to the portion of the lane that brings you into another driver’s field of vision at the earliest possible moment. you can avoid problems caused by doors opening. Good riders are always “looking for trouble”—not to get into it. move away from vehicles preparing to turn. lean your body forward and look around buildings. select a lane position that increases your visibility to the driver. Increase your chances of being seen at intersections. it is usually best to remain in the center portion of the lane to maximize your space cushion. In this picture the rider has moved to the left portion of the lane—away fromthe parked car—so the driver on the cross street can see him/her as soon as possible.The driver might think that you are preparing to turn. or people step­ ping from between cars. There are no guarantees that others will see you.side streets that pull into your lane. Do not change speed or position radi­ cally. Ride with your headlight on in a lane position that provides you with the best view of oncoming traffic. Reduce your speed as you approach an intersection. Make sure your front wheel stays out of the cross lane of travel while you are looking. BlinD intersection Passing Parked Cars When passing parked cars. If you have a stop sign or stop line. Too often. If a vehicle can enter your path. Blind Intersections When you approach a blind intersec­ tion. Then edge forward and stop again. Your use of SEE at intersections is critical. Never count on “eye contact” as a sign that a driver will yield to you. but to stay out of it. Cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce reaction time. After en­ tering the intersection. a driver can look right at a motorcyclist and still fail to “see” him/her. assume that it will.18 ­ . just short of where the cross-traffic lane meets your lane. The only eyes that you can count on are your own. . This way. From that position. or bushes to see if anything is coming. are the biggest dangers. Maintain a space cushion around your motorcycle that permits you to take evasive action. parked cars. stop there first. As you approach an intersection. If oncoming traffic is present. drivers getting out of cars.

Even if the driver looks. Vehicles making a sudden U-turn are the most dangerous. Even if a driver does see you coming. . Slow down or change lanes to make room for someone to enter. two-wheeled silhouette in search of cars that may pose a problem to them. thinking they have plenty of time. the driver might enter your path. he/she may fail to see you. Sound your horn and continue with caution. In either event. Smaller vehicles appear farther away and seem to be traveling slower than they actually are. From ahead or behind. they are wrong. they are looking through the skinny. it’s hard to see something you are not looking for. parking at curBs increasing visiBility A bigger problem can occur if a driver pulls away from the curb without checking for traffic behind. slow down and get the driver’s attention. In crashes with motorcyclists. you aren’t necessarily safe. Since you can’t tell what a driver will do. blocking the whole roadway and leaving you with no place to go.parkeD cars Parking at the Roadside Park at a 90° angle to the curb with the rear wheel touching the curb. Also. It is common for drivers to pull out in front of motorcyclists. Too often. driv­ ers often say that they never saw the motorcycle. a motorcycle’s outline is much smaller than a passenger vehicle’s.19 ­ . They may cut you off entirely. and most drivers are not looking for motorcycles. More likely.

Your turn signals also signals . When it is foggy. Clothing Most crashes occur in broad day­ light. Use them anytime you plan to change lanes or turn. Headlight The best way to help others see your motorcycle is to always keep the headlight on. They tell others what you plan to do. red. Brightly colored helmets can also help others see you. However. due to a rider’s added vulnerability. Reflective material on a vest and on the sides of the helmet will help drivers see you from the side. Remember. or green jackets or vests are the best for being seen. Signal your left or right turn during the last 100 feet before reaching the turning point. Bright orange.20 ­ . Turn Signals The turn signals on a motorcycle are similar to those on a car. you can do many things to make it easier for others to recognize you and your motorcycle. At highway speeds. a motorcycle with its light on is twice as likely to be noticed. Use your turn signals even when you think no one else is around. use the low beam. your body is half of the visible surface area of the rider/motorcycle unit.However. it is best to signal at least five seconds before changing lanes. Re­ flective material can also be a big help for drivers coming toward you or from behind. Studies show that during the day. yellow. Using your high beam dur­ ing the day and at night increases the chances that oncoming drivers will see you. Use your high beam if it is legal and safe to do so. Wear brightly-colored clothing to increase your chances of being seen. turn signals are even LEFT TURN RIGHT TURN SLOW or STOP more important.

For example. • Before you slow down. Brake Light Your motorcycle’s brake light is usually not as noticeable as a vehi­ cle’s—especially when the taillight is on. If the driver isn’t paying attention. fast turn off a highspeed highway. The driver behind you may not expect you to slow. Traf­ fic conditions change quickly. Once you turn. it’s a good idea to flash your brake light before you slow. They also make cars seem farther away than they really are. turning around and looking to see how close you came. thinking you plan to turn again. • Practicing with your mirrors until you become a good judge of distance. Watch cars coming up from behind. • Where others may not expect it (in the middle of a block or at an alley).21 ­ . drivers approaching from behind are more likely to see your turn signal blinking and make room for you. you must know what is going on behind you. Some motorcycles have rounded (convex) mirrors. If you are being tailgated. help others notice you by flashing your brake light before you slow down. • Then. . be sure to turn them off or a driver may pull directly into your path. you can get familiar with them by: • Picking out a parked car in your mirror (while you are stopped). It is especially important to flash your brake light before you slow: • For a tight. When you enter a freeway. he could be on top of you before he sees you. • Before you change lanes.make you easier to see. you can’t ignore situations behind you. In order to make safe decisions about how to handle trouble ahead. rather than at a nearer driveway. use hand signals. If the situation permits. Make a special point of using your mirrors: • When you are stopped at an intersection. Using your turn signals before each turn reduces confusion and frustra­ tion for the traffic around you. If you are not used to convex mirrors. or may be unsure about where you will slow. These mirrors provide a wider view of the road behind than flat mirrors. If bright sun­ light makes your turn signal lights hard to see. Using Your Mirrors While it’s most important to know what’s happening ahead. you signal a turn and the driver thinks you plan to turn at a distant intersection. Frequent mirror checks should be part of your normal searching rou­ tine. • Forming a mental image of how far away it is. Make sure no one is about to pass you.

This in­ creases your chances of avoiding a hazard. Before you change lanes. BlinD spots Horn Be ready to use your horn to get someone’s attention quickly. Only by knowing what is happening all around. Frequent head checks should be part of your normal scanning routine. Be ready to stop or swerve away from the danger. but don’t rely on it. • Increase Distance. Riding at Night At night it is harder for you to see and be seen. Picking your motorcycle’s headlight or taillight out of the other lights is not easy for drivers. you should: • Reduce Your Speed. Head Checks Checking your mirrors is not enough. Motorcycles have “blind spots” just like other vehicles. check the far lane and the one next to you. Ride even slower than you would during the day—particularly on roads you don’t know well. It is a good idea to give a quick beep before passing anyone that may move into your lane. Other strategies may be appropriate along with the horn. turn your head and check that lane for other vehicles. A driver in the distant lane may drive into the same space you plan to take.22 ­ . To make up for this. Your eyes rely upon shadows and light contrasts .• Allowing extra distance before you change lanes. On a road with several lanes. 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. can you be fully prepared to deal with it. In an emergency. so use it. Distances are harder to judge at night than during the day. • Someone is in the street riding a bicycle or walking. Remember that a motorcycle’s horn isn’t as loud as a car’s. • A driver is seated in a parked car ahead. press the horn but­ ton loud and long.

If you accidentally lock the rear brake on a good traction surface. press down on the rear brake. you can control the motor­ cycle on a straightaway if it is upright and going in a straight line. However. there will be times when you find yourself in a tight spot. Quick Stops To stop quickly. Open up a three-second or more following distance. Allow more distance to pass and be passed. The head­ lights of the car ahead can give you a better view of the road than your high beam. but don’t “grab” it either. If you must stop quickly while turning or riding a curve. As you slow. Squeeze the brake lever firmly with continuing steady pressure. These contrasts are missing or distorted at night. Taillights bounc­ ing up and down can alert you to bumps or rough pavement. The front brake can provide almost three-quarters of your stopping power. Don’t be shy about using the front brake. release the front brake immediately and then reapply it firmly. the best technique is to straighten the motor­ cycle first and then brake. NOTE: Even with a locked rear wheel. Wear reflective materials when riding at night. Studies show that most crashes involved riders who: • Underbrake the front tire and overbrake the rear. and keep an adequate space cushion.23 ­ . Two skills critical in avoiding a crash are knowing when and how to stop or swerve. At the same time. If you must brake while lean­ ing. a crash occurs because a rider is not prepared or skilled in crashavoidance maneuvers. it may not always be possible to straighten the motorcycle and then stop. • Use Your High Beam. Use your high beam whenever you are not following or approaching another vehicle. Be visible. . apply both brakes at the same time. Get all the light you can. Often. Change to the portion of the lane that helps you see. • Did not separate braking from swerving or did not choose to swerve when it was appropri­ ate. You must also be able to swerve around an obstacle.to determine how far away an object is and how fast it is com­ ing. apply the brakes lightly and reduce the throttle. If the front wheel locks. Always use both brakes at the same time to stop. You can’t always stop quickly to avoid an obstacle. • Be Flexible about lane position. you can keep it locked until you have completely stopped. Your chances of getting out safely depend on your ability to react quickly and properly. crash avoiDance No matter how careful you are. be seen. • Use the Car Ahead.

then press the right to recover. The only way to avoid a crash may be to turn quickly or swerve around it. An object might ap­ pear suddenly in your path or the car ahead might stop abruptly. then sWerve If braking is required. To swerve to the right.24 ­ . or a rapid shift to the side. press the left handlegrip. Cornering A primary cause of single-vehicle crashes is motorcyclists running wide in a curve or turn and col­ liding with the roadway or a fixed object. then left. The motorcycle should now be straight up and in balance. gradually widens. . Press on the opposite handlegrip once you clear the obstacle and are ready to return to your original direction of travel. This causes the motorcycle to lean quickly. Let the motorcycle move underneath you. gets tighter. It can be two quick turns. even if you use both brakes properly. To swerve to the left. you should “straighten” the handlebars. The sharper the turn(s). Brake before or after—never while swerving. Then in the last few feet of stopping. then Brake Brake. separate it from swerving. Keep your knees against the tank and your feet solidly on the pegs. A swerve is any sudden change in direction. the more the motorcycle must lean. press right.reduce your lean angle and apply more brake pressure until the motor­ cycle is straight and maximum brake pressure is possible. Make your escape route the target of your vision. Keep your body upright and allow the motorcycle to lean in the direc­ tion of the turn. Swerving or Turning Quickly Sometimesyou may not have enough room to stop. To swerve. Be alert to whether a curve remains constant. sWerve. or involves multiple turns. Every curve is different. apply a small amount of hand pres­ sure to the handlegrip on the side of your intended direction of escape.

Ride within your skill level and posted speed limits. start at the outside of a curve to increase your line of sight and the effective radius of the turn. • Slippery surfaces. Another choice is to move to the center of your lane before entering a curve and stay there until you exit. move to the outside to exit. move toward the inside of the curve. As you turn. Your best path may not always follow the curve of the road. If there is no traffic. road conditions. You can also adjust for traffic “crowding” the center line or debris blocking part of your lane.25 ­ . constant curves multiple curves Decreasing curves WiDening curves . and curve of the road. Change your lane position based on traffic. hanDling Dangerous surfaces Your chance of falling or being in­ volved in a crash increases whenever you ride across: • Uneven surfaces or obstacles. This allows you to see approaching traffic as soon as possible. and as you pass the center.

• 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. Often. • Just before contact.• Railroad tracks or pavement seams. ride in a vehicle’s tire tracks. you should: • Slow down as much as possible before contact. You may slip and fall. Remember to use gentle pressure on the rear brake. Be as smooth as possible when you speed up. even on a slippery surface. broken pavement. Approach it at as close to a 90° angle as possible. Look where you want to go to control your path of travel. It is especially important to reduce speed before entering wet curves. and manhole covers. Squeeze the brake lever gradually to avoid locking the front wheel. If you ride over an object. However. or small pieces of highway trash. snow. • RememberThat the Center of a Lane Can be Hazardous When Wet. • Grooves and gratings. To ride safely on slippery surfaces: • Reduce Speed . your motorcycle needs more distance to stop. first determine if it’s possible. Surfaces with poor traction include: • Wet pavement. Dirt and gravel collect along the sides of the road. • Gravel roads or where sand and gravel collect. steel plates. or brake. Avoid obstacles by slowing or going around them. potholes. • Avoid Sudden Moves. When it starts to rain. • Lane markings. Any sud­ den change in speed or direction can cause a skid. Uneven Surfaces and Obstacles Watch for uneven surfaces such as bumps. turn. • Mud. and ice. Slippery Surfaces Motorcycles handle better on sur­ faces with good traction. • Watch For Oil Spots when you put your foot down to stop or park. if you must go over the obstacle. espe­ . particularly just after it starts to rain and before surface oil washes to the side of the road. • Make sure the motorcycle is straight. depending on traffic and other road conditions as well. The front brake is still effective. shift gears. • Be Cautious of the Edge of the Road. especially when wet. If you have to ride over the obstacle. Slow down before you get to a slippery sur­ face to reduce your chances of skidding. When slippery.26 ­ . pull off the road and check your tires and rims for damage before riding any farther. • Use Both Brakes. roll on the throttle slightly to lighten the front end. the left tire track will be the best lane position.

Be sure to keep off the brakes. Attempting this maneuver at anything other than the slowest of speeds could prove hazardous. you can catch yourself. For track and road seams that run parallel to your course. This uneasy. move far enough away from tracks. Relax and maintain a steady speed and ride straight across. If possible. Railroad or Trolley Tracks and Pavement Seams Usually it is safer to ride straight within your lane to cross tracks. Crossing at an angle forces riders to zigzag grate crossing-Wrong grate crossing-right .cially on curves and ramps leading to and from highways. Patches of ice tend to develop in low or shaded areas and on bridges and overpasses. crossing tracks-right crossing tracks-Wrong Grooves and Gratings Riding over rain grooves or bridge gratings may cause your motorcycle to weave. If the motorcycle starts to fall. 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. squeeze the clutch and coast. make a quick. Then. Cautious riders steer clear of roads covered with ice or snow. sharp turn. If you encounter a large surface so slippery that you must coast. Edging across could catch your tires and throw you off balance. or pavement seams to cross at an angle of at least 45°. If you can’t avoid an icy or snowy surface. or travel at a walking pace. keep your motorcycle straight up and proceed as slowly as possible.27 ­ . consider letting your feet skim along the surface. ruts. Ride on the least slippery portion of the lane and reduce your speed. Wet leaves are just as slippery as wet road surfaces. “wandering” feeling is generally not hazardous. • RememberRain Dries and Snow Melts Faster on Some Sections of a Road than on others.

. The zigzag is far more hazardous than the wandering feeling. or incorrect tire pressure. react quickly to keep your balance. Center the weight lower and farther forward on the motorcycle.28 ­ . Most wobbles can be traced to improper loading. take into account the road and traffic conditions you face. air shocks.” Afront-wheel flat is particularly hazardous because it affects your steering. You have to steer well to keep your balance. and stop. ride to the side of the road. If the rear tire goes flat. and keep a straight course. the back of the motorcycle may jerk or sway from side to side. Tire Failure You will seldom hear a tire go flat. immediately operate the engine cut-off switch and pull in the clutch at the same time. unsuitable ac­ cessories. ease off the throttle. If either tire goes flat while riding: • Hold the handlegrips firmly. lighten it. gradually apply the brake of the tire that isn’t flat. • When the motorcycle slows. Once the motorcycle is “under control. this may free it. If one of your tires suddenly loses air. check the throttle cable carefully to find the trouble. shift it. though engine noise may not immediately decline. if you are sure which one it is. If the throttle cable is stuck. mechanical proBlems You can find yourself in an emer­ gency the moment something goes wrong with your motorcycle. Stuck Throttle Twist the throttle back and forth several times. You must be able to tell from the way the motorcycle reacts if you have tire failure. This will remove power from the rear wheel. Make certain the throttle works freely before you start rid­ ing again. Make sure windshields and fairings are mounted properly. If you can’t lighten the load. Wobble A “wobble” occurs when the front wheel and handlebars suddenly start to shake from side to side at any speed. If the front tire goes flat. spring pre-load. In dealing with any mechanical prob­ lem. • If braking is required. and dampers are at the recommended settings for that much weight. it may be a tire failure. Make sure the tire pres­ sure. If the throttle stays stuck.to stay in the lane. After you have stopped.” leave the road and stop. Here are some guidelines that can help you handle mechanical problems safely. the steering will feel “heavy. squeeze the clutch. If you are carrying a heavy load. If the motorcycle starts handling differently. Stop riding and check the tires as soon as possible.

however. add oil as soon as possible or the engine will seize. Tightening the chain may help. If you are in traffic. have the motorcycle thoroughly checked by a qualified professional. cigarettes thrown from vehicles. and swing arm bearings. The first sign may be a loss of engine power or a change in the engine’s sound.29 ­ . or both before rid­ ing again. or pebbles kicked up by the tires of the vehicle ahead. Don’t kick at an animal. Check the oil. flying oBjects From time to time riders are struck by insects. Hitting something small is less dangerous to you than hitting something big—like a car. Chain Problems A chain that slips or breaks while you’re riding could lock the rear wheel and cause your motorcycle to skid. Trying to “accelerate out of a wob­ ble” will only make the motorcycle more unstable. remain in your lane. worn steering parts. a front wheel that is bent. pull off the road. accelerate away and leave the animal behind. Chain slippage or break­ age can be avoided by proper maintenance. Keep control of your motorcycle. Close the throttle and brake to a stop. but don’t fight the wobble. If the engine’s moving parts can’t move smoothly against each other. When this happens. elk. the sprockets. Replace the chain. Check the chain and sprockets. As you approach it. braking could make the wobble worse. animals Do everything you safely can do to avoid hitting an animal. the engine overheats. or out of balance. the effect is the same as a locked rear wheel. For larger animals (deer. loose wheel bearings or spokes. • Slippage. cattle) brake and prepare to stop—they are unpredictable. Instead: • Grip the handlebars firmly. . If needed. If you are wearing face protection. • Move your weight as far forward and down as possible.Check for poorly adjusted steering. • Close the throttle gradually to slow down. Pull off the road and stop. Engine Seizure When the engine “locks” or “freez­ es” it is usually low on oil. • Leave the road as soon as you can to fix the problem. downshift and approach the animal slowly. if needed. If the chain slips when you try to speed up or ride uphill. misaligned. Let the engine cool before restarting. If none of these are the cause. Squeeze the clutch lever to disengage the en­ gine from the rear wheel. • Breakage—You’ll notice an instant loss of power to the rear wheel. Motorcycles seem to attract dogs. Do not apply the brakes. If you are chased.

or if you’re just not sure about it. loose sand. making it difficult to see. • Protective equipment should be the same protective gear recom­ mended for operators.it might get smeared or cracked. You don’t want someone else leaving the road at the same place you are. Make sure the roadside is firm enough to ride on. or mouth. Give a clear signal that you will be slowing and changing direction. If it is soft grass. • Pull off the road. • Signal. Check your mirror and make a head check before you take any action. Adjust the suspension to handle the additional weight. • Footrests for the passenger.30 ­ . You will probably need to add a few pounds of pressure to the tires if you carry a passenger. an object could hit you in the eye. pull off the road and repair the damage. . When safe. speeds up. Before taking a passenger or a heavy load on the street. • Adjust your riding technique for the added weight. It can be very hard to see a motorcycle by the side of the road. keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the handlebars. Loose and sloped shoulders can make setting the side or center stand difficult.) While your passenger sits on the getting off the roaD If you need to leave the road to check the motorcycle (or just to rest for a while). The extra weight changes the way the motorcycle handles. Drivers behind might not expect you to slow down. face. slow way down before you turn onto it. balances. You should not sit any farther forward than you usually do. (Check your owner’s manual for appropriate settings. • Instruct the passenger before you start. practice away from traffic. • Park carefully. Without face protection. too. carrying passengers anD cargo Only experienced riders should carry passengers or large loads. Get as far off the road as you can. be sure you: • Check the roadside. Equipment should include: • Aproper seat large enough to hold both of you without crowding. Firm footing prevents your passenger from falling off and pulling you off. Whatever happens. and slows down. 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.

Also. Instructing Passengers Even if your passenger is a mo­ torcycle rider. • Open up a larger cushion of space ahead and to the sides. • Keep the Load Forward. adjust the mirror and headlight according to the change in the motorcycle’s angle. • Warn that you will make a sud­ den move. Turn your head slightly to make yourself understood. the rear axle. stopping quickly. • Sit as far forward as possible without crowding you. or riding over bumps. Place the load over. even when stopped. • Keep legs away from the muffler(s). turning sharply. Tell your passenger to: • Get on the motorcycle only after you have started the engine. • Avoid unnecessary talk or mo­ tion. but use caution when loading hard or sharp objects. or in front of. provide complete instructions before you start. especially when taking curves. tell your passenger to tighten his or her hold when you: • Approach surface problems. the longer it will take to slow down and speed up—especially on a light-duty motorcycle. corners. enter.31 ­ . Make sure the tank bag does not interfere with handlebars or controls. Stacking loads against a sissybar or frame on the back of the seat raises the motorcycle’s center of gravity and shifts its balance. or belt. . • Are about to start from a stop. or merge with traffic. • Begin slowing sooner as you ap­ proach a stop. Mounting a load behind the rear axle affects how the mo­ torcycle turns and brakes. Small loads can be carried safely. • Stay directly behind you leaning as you lean. • Hold firmly to your waist. • Keep the Load Low.seat with you. or moving parts. or bumps. Riding With Passengers Your motorcycle will respond more slowly with a passenger. The heavier your passenger. Carrying Loads Most motorcycles are not designed to carry much cargo. • Wait for larger gaps to cross. Fasten loads securely. if positioned and fastened properly. or put them in saddle­ bags. but keep your eyes on the road ahead. chains. Warn your passenger of these spe­ cial conditions: Starting. hips. • Ride a little slower. Tank bags keep loads forward. It can also cause a wobble. • Keep both feet on the pegs.

However. Some riders won’t always be hurrying to catch up. The leader should look ahead for changes and signal early so there is plenty of time for every­ one to follow. • Staggered Formation. permitting the load to shift or fall.• Distribute the Load Evenly. and is less likely to be separated. Make sure everyone knows the route. If your group is larger than four or five riders. do it in a way that promotes safety and doesn’t interfere with the flow of traffic. 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 small number isn’t separated as easily by traffic or red lights. . Never operate directly alongside another rider. • Put Beginners Up Front. Place inexperienced riders behind the leader so the more experienced riders can watch them. Ropes tend to stretch and knots can come loose. • Secure the Load. Stop and check the load often to make sure it has not worked loose or moved.32 ­ . The leader rides in the left portion of the lane while the second rider stays one second behind in the right portion of the group riDing If you ride with others. There is no place to go to avoid a car or a hazard on the road. divide it into two or more smaller groups. • Check the Load. Let the last rider set the pace. Use your mirrors to keep an eye on the person behind. Keep the Group Small Small groups make it easier and safer for other drivers to get around them. If a rider falls be­ hind. if someone is separated he/she won’t have to hurry to keep from getting lost or taking a wrong turn. A tight load won’t catch in the wheel or chain. To talk. wait until you are both stopped. causing it to lock up and skid. • Don’t Pair Up. Fasten the load securely with elastic cords (bun­ gee cords or nets). • Follow Those Behind. is easier to see. this formation must be done properly. Load saddlebags with about the same weight. Start lane changes early to permit everyone to com­ plete the lane change safely. Elastic cords with more than one attachment point per side are more secure. Then. Keep the Group Together • Plan. A close group takes up less space on the highway. Plan frequent stops on long rides. everyone should slow down a little to stay together. An uneven load can cause the motorcycle to drift to one side. • Know the Route. This is the best way to keep ranks close yet maintain an adequate space cushion.

and to the sides. the second rider moves up to the left portion of the lane and watches for a safe chance to pass. 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. or entering or leaving a highway. After passing. A third rider rides in the left portion of the lane two seconds behind the first rider. turning. • Single-File Formation. – Passing in formation. behind. – First. this rider returns to the right portion of the lane and opens up room for the next rider. the lead rider pulls out and passes when safe. the leader returns to the left portion of the lane and continues riding at “passing speed” to open room for the next rider.33 ­ . After passing.staggereD formation lane. . 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. The fourth rider keeps a two-second distance behind the second rider. – Some people suggest that the leader should move to the right portion of the lane after passing a vehicle. This is not a good idea. Move into a single-file formation when riding curves. – After the first rider passes safely. Riders in a staggered formation should pass one at a time. This for­ mation keeps the group close and permits each rider a safe distance from others ahead.

Three factors play a major part in determining BAC: • The amount of alcohol you con­ sume. 5-ounce glass of 12% wine. wine. The California Driver Handbook has more information. alcohol can be eliminated in the body at the rate of almost one drink per hour. a person 21 years of age or older with a BAC of . • Your body weight. a . Skilled riders pay attention to their riding environment and to operating the motorcycle. identifying potential hazards.01% or more (VC §23136). These “one drink” equivalents change if you drink ale. Generally. “One drink” is a 1 1/2-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor (even if mixed with non-alcoholic drinks). the greater the degree of impairment. at least one drink will remain in your bloodstream. alcohol anD the laW In California.34 ­ . the more alco­ hol accumulates in your body. IMPORTANT: You cannot le­ gally purchase beer. A breath or blood test is what usually determines whether you are riding legally or illegally. more than any other factor. Your ability to perform and respond to changing road and traffic condi­ tions is influenced by how fit and alert you are. Law enforcement is being stepped up across the country in response to the senseless deaths and injuries caused by drinking drivers and riders. or a 12­ ounce glass of 5% beer.BeiNG iN shaPe to riDe Riding a motorcycle is a demanding and complex task. or hard liquor if you are under the age of 21. • How fast you drink. Alcohol and other drugs. The faster you drink. The law is very strict if you are under 21 and drive with a BAC that is 0. malt liquors. The more alcohol in your blood. BlooD alcohol concentration Blood alcohol concentration or BAC is the amount of alcohol in relation to blood in the body. It doesn’t matter how sober you may look or act. But a variety of other factors may also influence the level of alcohol retained.08% or above is considered intoxicated. upset. If you drink two drinks in an hour. affect your ability to think clearly and to ride safely. and executing decisions quickly and skillfully. or fortified wines or if you drink on an empty stomach. are tired. sick. mak­ ing good judgments. Your chances of being stopped for riding under the influence of alcohol are increasing. or have taken medicines or drugs. As little as one alcoholic drink can have a significant effect on your performance. at the end of that hour.

Check with your insurance company about your coverage before you buy or ride a motorcycle. This form is also available on DMV’s web site at www. Refer to the California Driver Handbook for more information. If you. Avoid riding when tired. Wind.minimize the risks Minimize the risks of drinking and riding by taking the following steps: Don’t Drink. • Protect yourself from the elements. • Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs. Once you start. Artificial stimulants often result in extreme fatigue or de­ pression as they start to wear off. broker. cold. and rain make you tire quickly. especially on a long trip. Fatigue can affect your control of the motorcycle. You won’t be able to concentrate on the task at hand. including yourself. Stop and get off the motorcycle at least every two hours. or in which anyone.ca. Or Don’t Ride. you (or your insurance agent. Dress warmly. Experi­ enced riders seldom try to ride more than about six hours a day. including yourself. is injured. your resistance becomes weaker. . fatigue Riding a motorcycle is more tiring than driving a car. • Take frequent rest breaks. or legal representative) must report the accident to DMV. The CHPor police will not make this report.35 ­ .gov. A windshield is worth its cost if you plan to ride long distances. as an operator. you must control your riding. are involved in an accident which causes more than $750 in property damage to one person. • Limit your distance. MotorcYcle iNsUraNce Facts The financial responsibility sec­ tions of the Vehicle Code apply to all two-wheel vehicle owners and operators.dmv. You can get this form from any DMV or CHP office. no matter how slightly. You must make this report within 10 days on the Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (SR1) form. If you haven’t controlled your drinking.

and grasses—this can damage or kill them. or to cut across a switchback. • Stay out of designated wilderness areas. six. If a person is convicted of killing anyone during the course of a police pursuit (VC §2800. • Travel around meadows. and California Department of Parks and Recreation would like you to TREAD LIGHTLY! • Obtain a Travel Map from your local USFS or BLM office. wet roads and trails readily torn up by vehicles. he/she is subject to imprisonment in a state prison for four. Learn the rules and follow them. • Both that fine and imprison­ ment. • A fine of not less than $2. • Stay away from wild animals that are rearing young—or suf­ fering from food shortages. he/she is subject to: • Imprisonment in a state prison for three.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 (VC §2800. • Stay off soft. If a person is convicted of causing serious bodily injury during the course of a police pursuit (VC §2800. . or seven years or in a county jail for not more than one year. or stream banks and lake shores easily scarred by churning wheels. Forest Service (USFS). • Avoid running overyoung trees. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). or regulations from other public land agencies.000. steep hillsides. Respect landowner rights. • Resist the urge to pioneer a new road or trail. • Obey gate closures and regula­ tory signs. or ten years. Know where the boundaries are. five.3[b]).000 nor more than $10.S.3[a]).36 ­ . treaD liGhtlY! The U. Vandalism costs tax dollars. • Get permission to travel across private lands.1). The stress uses up their limited energy reserves. shrubs.

• Make appointments (except commercial driving test). brochures. Mon. & Fri. • Calculate registration fees.. and driving directions. hours. telePhoNe serVice Call 1-800-921-1117 and use the Automated Voice Recognition System to: • Make appointments (except driving test) • Pay registration renewals or Call 1-800-777-0133 to: • Get forms and publications. • Complete a release of liability. Tues. • Order special plates. • Take a sample driver license test.. • Get field office locations. and handbooks. • Make an appointment for a driving test – Between 8-5. • Find answers to your questions. • Complete a change of address. • Listen to general information. – Between 9-5 on Wed. • Get forms. Thurs.CheCk out these serviCes oNliNe serVice • Renew your driver license and vehicle registration. .37 ­ ..

Products or services provided by advertisers are not promoted or endorsed by DMV.38 ­ . .

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State. ZIP Code: ______________________________________________________ . Name: __________________________________________________________________ Address: ________________________________________________________________ City.40 - DL 665 English (Rev.Products or services provided by advertisers are not promoted or endorsed by DMV. 3/2009) .

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