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

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

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

you must: • Submit a completed DMV application form (DL 44 or DL 44C). Knowledge test questions are based on information. • Pass an eye exam. -4- . • Give a thumb print and signature. DMV’s licensing exams are designed to be scored objectively. • Have your picture taken. NOTE: Class C licensees may operate a motorcycle with a side car attached or a three-wheel motorcycle. Basic riDer course Motorcycle applicants are encouraged to enroll in the Basic Rider Course offered by the California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP). For more information you may contact CMSP at 1-877-RIDE411 or visit www. Motorcycle law tests and skill tests are required. and ideas from this handbook. or a motorized scooter. • Pass an additional law test on motorcycle driving rules. You may obtain a Class M1 or M2 license at any DMV office which provides driver license services.bicycle with an attached motor.org. practices.ca-msp. 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. This course offers hands-on motorcycle skill training for novice and returning riders. To obtain your license. you must pass a knowledge test and an on-cycle skill test. 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). CMSP has trained thousands of riders over the past These are the requirements if you already have a basic class driver 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. To obtain an instruction permit to operate an M1/M2 vehicle on public roads. Refer to the California Driver Handbook for basic class driver license requirements. • Pay the required application fee. application requirements — all Drivers earning your license Safe riding requires knowledge and skill. • 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. The on-cycle skill test is conducted in either an actual traffic environment or in a controlled off-street area. several years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. slow down and open up extra space ahead of you which will allow space for both you and the tailgater to stop. 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. move into the left lane and accelerate. • Extended mirrors—Some drivers forget that their mirrors hang out farther than their fenders. Signal again and complete mirror and head checks before returning to your original lane. • Objects thrown from windows—Even if the driver knows you are there. • Blasts of wind from larger vehicles—They can affect your control. you have at least given yourself and the tailgater more time and space to react in case an emergency develops. and only where permitted. This will also encourage the tailgater to pass. 2. Passing 1. Signal and check for oncoming 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. However.A better way to handle tailgaters is to allow them to pass you. visibility is more critical. Then cancel your turn signal. Select a lane position that doesn’t crowd the car you are passing and provides space to avoid hazards in your lane. Do not move into the portion of the lane farthest from the passing vehicle.15 - . Ride through the driver’s blind spot as quickly as possible. . It might invite the other driver to move back into your lane too early. But if the tailgater doesn’t pass. Use your mirrors and turn your head to look for traffic behind. 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. Passing and Being Passed Passing and being passed by a larger vehicle is not much different than with a smaller passenger vehicle. passing must be completed within posted speed limits. If you can’t do this. Remember. Riding any closer could put you in a hazardous situation. Be sure other drivers see you and that you see potential hazards. Being Passed When you are being passed from behind or by an oncoming vehicle. 3. Avoid being hit by: • The other vehicle—A slight mistake by you or the passing driver could cause a sideswipe. When safe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

he/she is subject to: • Imprisonment in a state prison for three. • Obey gate closures and regulatory signs. • Avoid running over young trees. or to cut across a switchback. . Check with your insurance company about your coverage before you buy or ride a motorcycle. You can get this form from any DMV or CHP office. five. or seven years or in a county jail for not more than one year. This form is also available on DMV’s web site at www. treaD liGhtlY! The U. • A fine of not less than $2. • Stay out of designated wilderness areas.000 nor more than $10.3[b]). he/she is subject to imprisonment in a state prison for four. six. • Stay off soft.36 - . • Travel around meadows. and grasses—this can damage or kill them. Know where the boundaries are. Learn the rules and follow them. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Respect landowner rights.3[a]).gov. wet roads and trails readily torn up by vehicles. • Resist the urge to pioneer a new road or trail.ca.000. or stream banks and lake shores easily scarred by churning wheels. If a person is convicted of killing anyone during the course of a police pursuit (CVC §2800.dmv. If a person is convicted of causing serious bodily injury during the course of a police pursuit (CVC §2800. Forest Service (USFS). or regulations from other public land agencies. The stress uses up their limited energy reserves. shrubs. or ten years.1). steep hillsides. and California Department of Parks and Recreation would like you to TREAD LIGHTLY! • Obtain a Travel Map from your local USFS or BLM office. 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. • Get permission to travel across private lands. Vandalism costs tax dollars.(SR1) form. Refer to the California Driver Handbook for more information. • Stay away from wild animals that are rearing young—or suffering from food shortages. • Both that fine and imprisonment.S.

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