2010

ENGLISH

California

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

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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.

Disclaimer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. Then cancel your turn signal. This will also encourage the tailgater to pass. But if the tailgater doesn’t pass. Remember. Use your mirrors and turn your head to look for traffic behind. Signal and check for oncoming traffic.A better way to handle tailgaters is to allow them to pass you. you have at least given yourself and the tailgater more time and space to react in case an emergency develops. However. If you can’t do this. Passing 1. 2. Signal again and complete mirror and head checks before returning to your original lane. • Blasts of wind from larger vehicles—They can affect your control. Passing and Being Passed Passing and being passed by a larger vehicle is not much different than with a smaller passenger vehicle. It might invite the other driver to move back into your lane too early. Riding any closer could put you in a hazardous situation. passing must be completed within posted speed limits. 4. When safe. Being Passed When you are being passed from behind or by an oncoming vehicle. Be sure other drivers see you and that you see potential hazards. Ride through the driver’s blind spot as quickly as possible. slow down and open up extra space ahead of you which will allow space for both you and the tailgater to stop. stay in the center portion of your lane. • Extended mirrors—Some drivers forget that their mirrors hang out farther than their fenders. visibility is more critical. . Ride in the left portion of your lane at a safe following distance to increase your line of sight and make you more visible. and only where permitted. a passenger may not see you and might toss something on you or the road ahead of you. Select a lane position that doesn’t crowd the car you are passing and provides space to avoid hazards in your lane. Avoid being hit by: • The other vehicle—A slight mistake by you or the passing driver could cause a sideswipe. Do not move into the portion of the lane farthest from the passing vehicle. 3.15 - . move into the left lane and accelerate. • Objects thrown from windows—Even if the driver knows you are there.

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

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

Over one-half of motorcycle/passenger vehicle collisions are caused by drivers entering a rider’s right-of-way. If you have a stop sign or stop line. If a vehicle can enter your path.18 - . are the biggest dangers.deal with them one at a time as single hazards. Weigh the consequences of each and give equal distance to the hazards. large intersections . but to stay out of it. move away from vehicles preparing to turn. As you approach an intersection. In high-risk areas. intersections The greatest potential for conflict between you and other traffic is at intersections. Vehicles that turn left in front of you. The only eyes that you can count on are your own. Ride with your headlight on in a lane position that provides you with the best view of oncoming traffic. Decision-making becomes more complex with three or more hazards. Good riders are always “looking for trouble”—not to get into it. including those illegally turning left from the wrong lane. cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce your reaction time. such as intersections. Cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce reaction time. move to the portion of the lane that brings you into another driver’s field of vision at the earliest possible moment. and cars on side streets that pull into your lane. Too often. An intersection is anywhere traffic may cross your path. After entering the intersection. 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. Never count on “eye contact” as a sign that a driver will yield to you. There are no guarantees that others will see you. a driver can look right at a motorcyclist and still fail to “see” him/her. Do not change speed or position radically. 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. Blind Intersections When you approach a blind intersection. Your use of SEE at intersections is critical. shopping areas. Maintain a space cushion around your motorcycle that permits you to take evasive action. assume that it will. The driver might think that you are preparing to turn. Reduce your speed as you approach an intersection. or school and construction zones. 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. stay toward the left portion of your lane. you can avoid problems caused by doors opening. A bigger problem can occur if a driver pulls away from the curb without checking for traffic behind. parked cars. or bushes to see if anything is coming. parkeD cars BlinD intersection Passing Parked Cars When passing parked cars. drivers getting out of cars. slow down and get the driver’s attention.19 - . Then edge forward and stop again. This way. or people stepping from between cars. Since you can’t tell what a driver will do. Sound your horn and continue with caution. In either event. just short of where the cross-traffic lane meets your lane. blocking the whole roadway and leaving you with no place to go. From that position. Make sure your front wheel stays out of the cross lane of travel while you are looking. Slow down or change lanes to make room for someone to enter. They may cut you off entirely. If oncoming traffic is present. lean your body forward and look around buildings. he/she may fail to see you. Vehicles making a sudden U-turn are the most dangerous.stop there first. Even if the driver looks. the driver might enter your path. .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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