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Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor

State of California
2009 TE


Dale E. Bonner, Secretary

Business, Transportation and Housing Agency
George Valverde, Director
Department of Motor Vehicles
Products or services provided by advertisers are not promoted or endorsed by DMV.
taBle oF coNteNts

DisclaiMer ............................. ii
Lane Positions ..........................13

Following Another Vehicle ........14

Where to Write ...................... ii

Being Followed ........................14

DMV iNForMatioN .....................1

Passing and Being Passed......14


iNtroDUctioN ..........................2

Being Passed...........................15

tWo-Wheel Vehicle oPeratioN ...2

Lane Sharing............................15

Motorcycles ...................................2
Merging Cars ...........................16

Motor-Driven Cycles ......................2

Cars Alongside.........................16

Motorized Bicycles ........................3

Search, Evaluate, and

Motorized Scooter .........................3

Execute (SEE) ..........................16

Search ......................................16

liceNse reQUireMeNts ..............3


Earning Your License.....................4


Basic Rider Course .......................4

Intersections ................................17

Application Requirements —

Blind Intersections....................18

All Drivers ...................................4

Passing Parked Cars................18

Minors’ M1/M2 Permit

Parking at the Roadside...........19

Requirements .............................5

Increasing Visibility......................19

Minors’ M1/M2 License

Clothing ....................................20

Requirements .............................5


Adults’ M1/M2 Permit

Turn Signals..............................20

Requirements .............................5

Brake Light ...............................21

License Requirements —

Using Your Mirrors ....................21

All Drivers ...................................5

Head Checks ...........................22

Motorcycle Skills Test ....................6


PrePariNG to riDe ....................7

Riding at Night .........................22

Wearing the Right Gear.................7

Crash Avoidance .........................23

Helmet Use.................................7
Quick Stops..............................23

Helmet Selection ........................7

Swerving or Turning

Eye and Face Protection ............8


Clothing ......................................8
Cornering .................................24

Know Your Motorcycle ...................9

Handling Dangerous

The Right Motorcycle .................9

Surfaces ...................................25

Get Familiar with the

Uneven Surfaces and

Motorcycle Controls.................9
Obstacles ..............................26

Check Your Motorcycle...............9

Slippery Surfaces.....................26

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

Railroad or Trolley Tracks and

Pavement Seams...................27

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

Grooves and Gratings ..............27

Basic Vehicle Control................... 11

Mechanical Problems ..................28

Body Position ........................... 11

Tire Failure................................28

Shifting Gears........................... 11

Stuck Throttle............................28


Wobble .....................................28


Chain Problems........................29

Keeping Your Distance ................13

Engine Seizure .........................29

Animals .......................................29
BeiNG iN shaPe to riDe ............ 34

Flying Objects..............................29
Blood Alcohol Concentration ....... 34

Getting Off The Road...................30

Alcohol and the Law .................... 34

Carrying Passengers
Minimize the Risks ......................35

and Cargo.................................30
Fatigue ........................................35

Equipment ................................30

MotorcYcle iNsUraNce

Instructing Passengers ............31

Riding With Passengers ...........31

Facts ................................. 35

Carrying Loads.........................31
eVaDiNG a Peace oFFicer .......... 36

Group Riding ...............................32

Keep the Group Small..............32

treaD liGhtlY! ....................... 36

Keep the Group Together .........32

Keep Your Distance ..................32

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

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

Department of Motor Vehicles

Customer Communications Section MS H165

PO Box 932345

Sacramento, CA 94232-3450

© Copyright, Department of Motor Vehicles 2009

All rights reserved.

This work is protected by U. S. Copyright Law. DMV owns the copyright of this

work. Copyright law prohibits the following: (1) reproduction of the copyrighted

work; (2) distribution of copies of the copyrighted work; (3) preparation

of derivative works based upon the copyrighted work; (4) displaying the

copyrighted work publicly; or (5) performing the copyrighted work publicly.

All requests for permission to make copies of all or any part of this publication

should be addressed to:

Department of Motor Vehicles

Legal Office MS C128

PO Box 932382

Sacramento, CA 94232-3820

- ii ­
DMV iNForMatioN

DMV field offices are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday,
and Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday. A few offices offer only
driver license or vehicle registration service. Call one of the toll-free numbers
below or go online to find the locations and business hours of an office near
you. DMV has two TOLL-FREE telephone numbers.
• Call 1-800-777-0133 between or credit card. You will need to
8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to speak to a have the Renewal Identification
DMV representative for: Number provided on your bill­
– Driver license and vehicle ing notice.
registration information, forms, – Make a non-driving test ap­
and publications. pointment.
– Office locations and hours. • TTY
– A driving test appointment. – Persons with speech or hearing
• Call 1-800-921-1117 for DMV’s impairments can call, toll free,
24-hour voice recognition sys- 1-800-368-4327 for assistance
tem. It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 with DMVservices. Only typed
days a week to: messages from another TTY
– Renew your vehicle registra­ are received and responded to
tion using a check, debit card, at this number.

Go online at: for:

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

signs are posted to prohibit motor- motorizeD scooter
driven cycle operation. Amotorized scooter is defined as any
motorizeD Bicycles two-wheeled “device” with:
There are two definitions of motor­ • A motor, handlebars, and a
ized bicycle (moped). A motorized floorboard for standing on when
bicycle is: riding, and
• A two- or three-wheeled device, • The options of having:
capable of no more than 30 mph – a driver seat which cannot
on level ground, and equipped interfere with the operator’s
with: ability to stand and ride.
– fully operative pedals for hu­ – the ability to be powered by
man propulsion. human propulsion.
– a motor producing less than two NOTE: A motorized scooter may
gross brake horsepower and an be driven with any class driver
automatic transmission. license. A motorized scooter may
– an electric motor, with or not be used to take a Class M1 or
without pedals for human pro­ M2 skills test.
pulsion. (VC §406[a]) The motorized scooter’s exhaust
• Avehicle with pedals and an elec­ system must not be modified or
tric motor (not more than 1,000 altered.
watts) which cannot be driven at
speeds of more than 20 mph on liceNse
level ground even if assisted by reQUireMeNts
human power. (VC §406[b]) California issues the following li­
If you operate a motorized bicycle cense classes for two-wheel vehicle
which meets the definition of operation:
VC §406[b], you: • Class M1—You may operate
• Must be 16 years of age or any two-wheel motorcycle,
older. motor-driven cycle, or motorized
• Must wear a properly fitted and scooter and all vehicles listed
fastened bicycle helmet. under Class M2.
• Are exempt from the motor NOTE:The permit and license
vehicle financial responsibility, requirements in this handbook
driver license, and moped plate pertain to two-wheel vehicles
requirements (VC §12804.9). and are referenced in Section
You may ride a moped in a bicycle 12804.9 of the California Vehicle
lane at a reasonable speed. Be careful Code.
of bicyclists using the lane.

• Class M2—You may operate any torcyclist Safety Program (CMSP).
motorized bicycle, moped, or a This course offers hands-on motor­
bicycle with an attached motor, cycle skill training for novice and
or a motorized scooter. returning riders. CMSP has trained
You may obtain a Class M1 or M2 thousands of riders over the past
license at any DMV office which several years. The DMV motorcycle
provides driver license services. skills test is waived upon completion
Motorcycle law tests and skill tests and submission of the Basic Rider
are required. Course. For more information you
may contact CMSP at 1-877-RIDE­
NOTE: Class C licensees may
operate a motorcycle with a side
car attached or a three-wheel application requirements —
motorcycle. all Drivers
earning your license These are the requirements if you
Safe riding requires knowledge already have a basic class driver
and skill. Testing two-wheel vehicle license. Refer to the California
operators is the best measurement Driver Handbook for basic class
of the skills necessary to operate driver license requirements.
safely in traffic because people To obtain an instruction permit to
often overestimate their own operate an M1/M2 vehicle on public
abilities. DMV’s licensing roads, you must:
exams are designed to be scored • Submit a completed DMV ap­
objectively. plication form (DL 44).
To obtain your license, you • Pay the required application fee.
must pass a knowledge test and • Pass an eye exam.
an on-cycle skill test. Knowl­
edge test questions are based on • Have your picture taken.
information, practices, and • Give a thumb print.
ideas from this manual. They • Pass a test(s) on traffic laws and
require that you know and under­ signs for the class of license you
stand road rules and safe riding now have unless you have taken
practices. An on-cycle skill test will the test(s) within the prior twelve
either be conducted in an actual traf­ months.
fic environment or in a controlled • Pass an additional law test on
off-street area. motorcycle driving rules.
Basic riDer course NOTE: The Class M1/M2 permit
Motorcycle applicants are encour­ does not allow you to carry pas­
aged to enroll in the Basic Rider sengers and you must ride during
Course offered by the California Mo­ daylight hours only and not on a
minors’ m1/m2 permit aDults’ m1/m2 permit
requirements requirements
To obtain a Class M1/M2 permit, To obtain a Class M1/M2 instruction
you must: permit, you must:
• Be 15 ½ years of age and bring • Complete the application require­
proof you have finished both ments.
driver education and driver • Be 18 years of age, or older.
training. (DL 387, DL 388,
DL 388A, OL 237, or license requirements —
OL 238). all Drivers
• Complete the application require­ To obtain a Class M1/M2 license,
ments. you must:
• Have your parents’ * signatures • Complete the application and per­
on the application form. mit requirements listed above.
• If you are 21 years of age or older,
minors’ m1/m2 license you can attend a CHP approved
requirements motorcycle training course. If you
To obtain a Class M1/M2 license, complete this motorcycle training
you must: course and submit a valid DL389,
• Complete the requirements listed your insurance cost may be re­
above. duced. Check with your insurance
• Be at least 16 years old. company to see if you qualify for
a reduced rate. Additionally, the
• Applicants under 21 years of age
knowledge and skills you learn
are required by law to provide
in this motorcycle rider training
a Completion of Motorcycle
course may help you avoid a
Training certificate (DL 389)
serious injury or a fatal collision.
from an approved CHP motor­
This motorcycle training course
cycle rider training course. The
is highly recommended.
skill test is waived for any per­
son presenting a valid DL 389. • Pass a DMV skill test or present a
Motorcycle training courses are DL 389 to waive the skill test.
located throughout California. • Pass a road test, if you are applying
For more information and to lo­ for a Class M1/M2 license only.
cate the nearest training site, call

* The term parents means both custodial parents unless only one parent has custody, or all legal
guardians unless only one legal guardian has custody.

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

PrePariNG to riDe
• An approved helmet lets you see
What you do before you start a trip as far to the sides as necessary.
goes a long way toward determining • Most crashes happen on short trips
whether you’ll get where you want (less than five miles long) just a
to go safely. Before starting any trip, few minutes after starting out.
a safe rider makes a point to: • Most riders are riding slower than
• Wear the right gear. 30 mph when a crash occurs. At
• Become familiar with the mo­ these speeds, helmets can cut both
torcycle. the number and the severity of
head injuries by half.
• Check the motorcycle equip­
ment. No matter what your speed in a
crash, if you are wearing a helmet
• Be a responsible rider. you are three times more likely to
Wearing the right gear survive a head injury than if you
When you ride, your gear is “right” aren’t wearing one.
if it protects you. In any crash, you Helmet Selection
have a far better chance of avoiding There are two primary types of
serious injury when you wear: helmets which provide two differ­
• An approved helmet. ent levels of coverage: three-quarter
• Face or eye protection. and full face.
• Protective clothing. Whichever style you choose, you
get the most protection by making
Helmet Use sure the helmet:
Crashes can occur—particularly
• Meets U.S. Department of Trans­
among new riders. Many crashes
portation (DOT) and state safety
result in head or neck injuries with
head injuries being far more com­
mon. All operators and passengers Unsafe Helmet Interior

must wear an approved safety helmet

when riding on a motorcycle, motor-
driven cycle, motorized bicycle, or
motorized scooter. Research shows
that head and neck injuries account Safe Helmet Interior
for a majority of serious and fatal
motorcyclist injuries and that with
few exceptions, head and neck inju­
ries are reduced by properly wearing
an approved helmet. Here are some
facts to consider.

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

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

• Tires—Check the air pressure, • Horn—Make sure the horn
general wear, and tread. works.
• Fluids—Oil and fluid levels. At a In addition to the checks before ev­
minimum, check hydraulic fluids ery trip, check the following items at
and coolants weekly. Look under least once a week: Wheels, cables,
the motorcycle for signs of an oil fasteners, and fluids. Follow the
or gas leak. manufacturer’s recommendations.
• Headlights and Taillight—
Crashes are fairly common among
Check them both. Test your switch
new riders. Riding an unfamiliar
to make sure both high and low
motorcycle adds to the problem.
beams work.
Get familiar with any motorcycle
• Turn Signals—Turn on both right that is new to you, preferably in
and left turn signals. Make sure a controlled area. (No matter how
all lights work properly. experienced you may be, ride extra
• Brake Light—Try both brake carefully on any motorcycle that
controls and make sure each one is new or unfamiliar to you.) Re­
turns on the brake light. member that more than half of all
Once you are on the motorcycle, crashes occur on motorcycles ridden
complete the following checks be­ by riders with less than six months
fore starting out: experience.
• ClutchandThrottle—Make sure knoW your responsiBilities
they work smoothly. The throttle “Accident” implies an unforeseen
should snap back when you let event that occurs without anyone’s
go. The clutch should feel tight fault or negligence. Most often in
and smooth. traffic, that is not the case. In fact,
• Mirrors—Clean and adjust both most people involved in a crash can
mirrors before starting. Adjust usually claim some responsibility
each mirror so you can see the for what takes place.
lane behind and as much as Blame doesn’t matter when some­
possible of the lane next to you. one is injured in a crash. There is
When properly adjusted, a mirror rarely a single cause of any crash.
may show the edge of your arm The ability to be aware, make critical
or shoulder—but it’s the road decisions, and carry them out sepa­
behind and to the side that is most rates responsible riders from all the
important. rest. It is up to you to keep from
• Brakes—Try the front and rear being the cause of, or an unprepared
brake levers one at a time. Make participant in, any crash.
sure each one feels firm and holds As a rider, you can’t be sure that
the motorcycle when the brake is others will see you or yield the right
fully applied.
- 10 ­
of way. To reduce the chances of a holding the handlegrips. Bending
crash: your arms permits you to press on
• Be visible. Wear proper clothing, the handlebars without having to
use your headlight, and ride in stretch.
the best lane position to see and • Hands—Hold the handlegrips
be seen. firmly. Start with your right wrist
• Communicate your intentions. flat so you won’t accidentally use
Use the proper signals, brake light, too much throttle. Also, adjust
and lane position. the handlebars so your hands are
even with or below your elbows.
• Maintain an adequate space
This allows you to use the proper
cushion. Allow yourself enough
muscles for precision steering.
space when following, being fol­
lowed, lane sharing, passing, and • Knees—Keep your knees against
being passed. the gas tank to help with your bal­
ance as you turn the motorcycle.
• Scan your path of travel. Look at
least 10 to 15 seconds ahead. • Feet—Keep your feet firmly on
the footpegs for balance. Don’t
• Identify and separate multiple
drag your feet or you could be
injured and lose control of the
• Be prepared to act. Remain alert motorcycle. Keep your feet near
and know how to carry out proper the controls. Also, don’t point
crash-avoidance skills. your toes downward—they may
get caught between the road and
riDe WithiN YoUr the footpegs.
Shifting Gears
This manual cannot teach you how to
There is more to shifting gears than
control direction, speed, or balance.
simply getting the motorcycle to pick
You learn this only through practice
up speed smoothly. Learning to use
and by knowing your abilities and
the gears when downshifting, turn­
riding within them.
ing, or starting on hills is important
Basic vehicle control for safe motorcycle operation.
Body Position Shift down through thegears with the
To control a motorcycle well: clutch as you slow or stop. Remain
in first gear while stopped so you can
• Posture—Sit so you can use your move out quickly if needed.
arms to steer the motorcycle rather
than to hold yourself up. Ride slowly enough when you shift
into a lower gear or the motorcycle
• Seat—Sit far enough forward so will lurch and the rear wheel may
your arms are slightly bent when skid. When riding downhill or shift­

- 11 ­
ing into first gear you may need A skid can occur if you apply too
to slow to downshift safely. Work much brake. Also, using the front
toward a smooth, even clutch release brake incorrectly on a slippery
especially when downshifting. surface may be hazardous. Use
It is best to change gears before start­ caution and squeeze the brake
ing a turn. However, sometimes you lever, never “grab” it.
may need to shift while in the turn. • Some motorcycles have inte­
Remember to shift smoothly because grated braking systems that link
a sudden change in power to the rear the front and rear brakes together
wheel can cause a skid. when you apply the rear brake
pedal. (Consult your owner’s
Your motorcycle has two brakes: one
each for the front and rear wheel. Use Turning
both brakes at the same time. The Riders often try to take curves or
front brake is more powerful and turns too fast. When they can’t
can provide at least three-quarters hold the turn, they end up cross­
of your total stopping power. The ing into another lane of traffic or
front brake is safe to use when you going off the road. Or, they overreact
use it properly. and brake too hard causing a skid
REMEMBER: and loss of control. Approach turns
and curves with caution.
• Use both brakes every time you
slow or stop. Using both brakes Use four steps for better control:
for “normal” stops permits you 1. Slow—Reduce your speed before
to develop the proper habit and the turn by closing the throttle
skill of using both brakes prop­ and, if necessary, applying both
erly, which you may need in an brakes.
emergency. Squeeze the front 2. Look—Look through the turn to
brake and press down on the rear where you want to go. Turn only
brake. Grabbing at the front brake your head, not your shoulders,
or jamming down on the rear brake and keep your eyes level with
can cause the brakes to lock and the horizon.
result in control problems.
3. Press—To turn, the motorcycle
• If you know the technique, using must lean. To lean the motorcycle,
both brakes in a turn is possible, press on the handlegrip in the di­
although it should be done very rection of the turn. Press left—lean
carefully. When you lean the left—go left. Press right—lean
motorcycle, some of the traction right—go right. Higher speeds
is used for cornering and less and/or tighter turns require the
traction is available for stopping. motorcycle to lean more.

- 12 ­
4. Roll—Roll on the throttle through • Avoid others’ blind spots.
the turn to stabilize suspension. • Protect your lane from other
Maintain steady speed or accel­ drivers.
erate gradually through the turn.
• Communicate your intentions.
This will help keep the motorcycle
stable. • Help you avoid wind blasts from
other vehicles.
In normal turns, the rider and the
motorcycle should lean together at • Provide an escape route.
the same angle. Select the appropriate lane position
In slow tight turns, the rider should to maximize your space cushion and
keep his/her body straight and make yourself more visible to others
only lean the motorcycle. on the road.
In general, there is no “best lane
keeping your Distance position” for riders in which to be
The best protection you can have is seen and to maintain a space cushion
distance—a “cushion of space”—all around the motorcycle. Position
around your motorcycle. If some­ yourself in the lane that allows the
one else makes a mistake, distance most visibility and space around
gives you: you. Change your lane position as
• Time to react. traffic situations change. Ride in
• Space to maneuver. paths 2 or 3 if vehicles and other
potential problems are on your left
Lane Positions side. If vehicles are on both sides of
In some ways the size of the motor­ you, the center of the lane (path 2)
cycle can work to your advantage. is usually the best option.
Each traffic lane gives a motorcycle The oily strip in the center portion
three paths of travel, as indicated in of the lane is usually no more than
the illustration. two feet wide. Unless the road is
Your lane position should: wet, the average oily center strip
• Increase your ability to see and permits adequate traction on which
be seen. to ride safely. You can ride just to
the left or right of the oily strip and
lane positions still be within the center portion
of the traffic lane. Avoid riding on
oil and grease buildups which are
usually found at busy intersections
or toll booths. Try to travel in the
most heavily traveled portion of the
traffic lane (path 1 or 3) where other
vehicles tires have traveled.

- 13 ­
Following Another Vehicle When behind a vehicle, ride where
“Following too closely” (tailgat­ the driver can see you in his/her
ing) could be a factor in crashes rearview mirror. If you ride in the
involving motorcyclists. In traffic, center portion of the lane, your im­
motorcycles need as much distance age should be in the middle of the
to stop as cars. Normally, you should driver’s rearview mirror—where he/
maintain a two-second following she is more likely to see you.
distance. If you ride in the left or right portion
To gauge your following distance: of the lane, the driver may see you
• Ahead of you, pick out a marker in his/her side view mirror. But re­
such as a pavement marking or member that most drivers don’t look
lamp post. at their side view mirrors as often
as they check the rearview mirror.
• When the rear bumper of the So if the traffic situation allows,
vehicle ahead of you passes the the center lane position is usually
marker, count off the seconds: the best place for you to be seen by
“one-thousand-one, one-thou­ the driver ahead and to prevent lane
sand-two.” sharing by others.
• If you reach the marker before you
reach “two,” you are following Being Followed
too closely. When you speed up to lose a tail­
A two-second following distance gater, you only end up with someone
gives you a minimum amount of tailgating you at a higher speed.
space to stop or swerve, if the driver A better way to handle tailgaters is
ahead stops suddenly. It also gives to allow them to pass you. If you
you a better view of potholes and can’t do this, slow down and open
other road hazards. up extra space ahead of you which
You will need a larger space cushion will allow space for both you and
if your motorcycle takes longer than the tailgater to stop. This will also
normal to stop. Open up a three- encourage the tailgater to pass. But if
second or more following distance the tailgater doesn’t pass, you have at
when the pavement is slippery, or least given yourself and the tailgater
you cannot see through the vehicle more time and space to react in case
ahead, or traffic is heavy, or someone an emergency develops.
may squeeze in front of you. Passing and Being Passed
When you are stopped, keep well Passing and being passed by a larger
behind the vehicle ahead of you. vehicle is not much different than
This will make it easier to get out with a smaller passenger vehicle.
of the way if a driver behind you is However, visibility is more critical.
traveling too quickly or the vehicle Be sure other drivers see you and
ahead starts to back up. that you see potential hazards.
- 14 ­
Passing see you and might toss something
1. Ride in the left portion of your on you or the road ahead of you.
lane at a safe following distance • Blasts of wind from larger
to increase your line of sight and vehicles—They can affect your
make you more visible. Signal and control. You have more room for
check for oncoming traffic. Use error if you are in the middle por­
your mirrors and turn your head tion of the lane when hit by this
to look for traffic behind. blast than if you are on either the
2. When safe, move into the left lane left or right portions of the lane.
and accelerate. Select a lane posi­ Do not move into the portion of
tion that doesn’t crowd the car you the lane farthest from the passing
are passing and provides space to vehicle. It might invite the other
avoid hazards in your lane. driver to move back into your lane
3. Ride through the driver’s blind too early.
spot as quickly as possible. Lane Sharing
4. Signal again and complete mirror Cars and motorcycles each need
and head checks before returning a full lane to operate safely. Lane
to your original lane. Then cancel sharing is not safe.
your turn signal.
Riding between rows of stopped or
Remember, passing must be com­ moving cars in the same lane can
pleted within posted speed limits, leave you vulnerable. A car could
and only where permitted. turn suddenly or change lanes, a
Being Passed door could open, or a hand could
When you are being passed from come out of a window. Discourage
behind or by an oncoming vehicle, lane sharing by others. Keep a center
stay in the center portion of your position whenever drivers might be
lane. Riding any closer could put tempted to squeeze by you. Drivers
you in a hazardous situation. are most tempted to do this:
Avoid being hit by: • In heavy, bumper-to-bumper
• The othervehicle—Aslight mis­
take by you or the passing driver • When they want to pass you.
could cause a sideswipe. • When you are preparing to turn
• Extended mirrors—Some driv­ at an intersection.
ers forget that their mirrors hang • When you are moving into an exit
out farther than their fenders. lane or leaving a highway.
• Objects thrown from win-
dows—Even if the driver knows
you are there, a passenger may not

- 15 ­
Merging Cars
BlinD spots
Drivers on an entrance ramp may
not see you on the highway. Give
them plenty of room. Change to
another lane if one is open. If there
is no room for a lane change, adjust
your speed to open up space for the
merging driver.


search, evaluate, anD

execute (see)
Experienced riders remain aware of
what is going on around them. They
improve their riding strategy by
using SEE, a three-step process for
making appropriate judgments and
applying them correctly in different
Cars Alongside traffic situations. SEE stands for:
Do not ride next to passenger ve­ Search, Evaluate, and Execute.
hicles or trucks in other lanes if you
don’t have to because you might be
in the driver’s blind spot. The driver Actively search ahead, to the sides,
could change lanes without warning. and behind to help you avoid poten­
Also, vehicles in the next lane can tial hazards. How you search and
block your escape if you come upon how much time and space you have,
danger in your own lane. Speed up can eliminate or reduce harm. Fo­
or drop back to find a place clear of cus even more on finding potential
traffic on both sides. escape routes in or around intersec­
tions, shopping areas, or school and
construction zones.

- 16 ­
Search for factors such as: • Adjust your lane position and/
• Oncoming traffic that may turn or direction of travel.
left in front of you. Apply the old saying “one step at a
• Traffic coming from either the time” to handle two or more hazards.
left, right, or behind. Adjust your speed so you can deal
with each hazard separately. Then
• Hazardous road conditions.
deal with them one at a time as single
Evaluate hazards. Decision-making becomes
Think about how hazards can create more complex with three or more
risks for you. Anticipate potential hazards. Weigh the consequences
problems and have a plan to reduce of each and give equal distance to
risks. the hazards.
• Road and surface characteristics In high-risk areas, such as intersec­
such as potholes, guardrails, tions, shopping areas, or school and
bridges, telephone poles and construction zones, cover the clutch
trees won’t move into your path and both brakes to reduce your reac­
but may influence your riding tion time.
• Traffic control devices such as The greatest potential for conflict
traffic signals, regulatory signs, between you and other traffic is at
warning signs, and pavement intersections. An intersection is any­
markings will help you evaluate where traffic may cross your path.
circumstances ahead. It can be in the middle of an urban
• Vehicles and other traffic may area or at a driveway on a residential
move into your path and increase street. Over one-half of motorcycle/
the likelihood of a crash. passenger vehicle crashes are caused
Think about your time and space by drivers entering a rider’s right-of­
requirements in order to maintain way. Vehicles that turn left in front of
a margin of safety. You must leave you, including those illegally turning
yourself time to react if an emer­ left from the wrong lane, and cars on
gency arises.
large intersections
Carry out your decision. To create
more space and minimize harm from
any hazard:
• Communicate your presence with
lights and/or your horn.
• Adjust your speed by accelerating,
stopping, or slowing.

- 17 ­
side streets that pull into your lane, has moved to the left portion of the
are the biggest dangers. Your use of lane—away fromthe parked car—so
SEE at intersections is critical. the driver on the cross street can see
There are no guarantees that others him/her as soon as possible.
will see you. Never count on “eye If you have a stop sign or stop line,
contact” as a sign that a driver will stop there first. Then edge forward
yield to you. Too often, a driver can and stop again, just short of where
look right at a motorcyclist and still the cross-traffic lane meets your
fail to “see” him/her. The only eyes lane. From that position, lean your
that you can count on are your own. If body forward and look around
a vehicle can enter your path, assume buildings, parked cars, or bushes
that it will. Good riders are always to see if anything is coming. Make
“looking for trouble”—not to get sure your front wheel stays out of
into it, but to stay out of it. the cross lane of travel while you
Increase your chances of being seen are looking.
at intersections. Ride with your BlinD intersection
headlight on in a lane position that
provides you with the best view of
oncoming traffic. Maintain a space
cushion around your motorcycle that
permits you to take evasive action.
As you approach an intersection,
select a lane position that increases
your visibility to the driver. Cover
the clutch and both brakes to reduce
reaction time.
Reduce your speed as you
approach an intersection. After en­
tering the intersection, move away
from vehicles preparing to turn. Do Passing Parked Cars
not change speed or position radi­ When passing parked cars, stay
cally.The driver might think that you toward the left portion of your lane.
are preparing to turn. This way, you can avoid problems
Blind Intersections caused by doors opening, drivers
When you approach a blind intersec­ getting out of cars, or people step­
tion, move to the portion of the lane ping from between cars. If oncoming
that brings you into another driver’s traffic is present, it is usually best
field of vision at the earliest possible to remain in the center portion of
moment. In this picture the rider the lane to maximize your space

- 18 ­
Parking at the Roadside
parkeD cars
Park at a 90° angle to the curb with
the rear wheel touching the curb.

parking at curBs

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

- 19 ­
However, you can do many things to
make it easier for others to recognize
you and your motorcycle.
Most crashes occur in broad day­
light. Wear brightly-colored clothing
to increase your chances of being
seen. Remember, your body is half
of the visible surface area of the
rider/motorcycle unit.
Bright orange, red, yellow, or green SLOW or

jackets or vests are the best for being STOP

seen. Brightly colored helmets can

also help others see you. more important. Use them anytime
Reflective material on a vest and you plan to change lanes or turn.
on the sides of the helmet will help Signal your left or right turn during
drivers see you from the side. Re­ the last 100 feet before reaching the
flective material can also be a big turning point. At highway speeds, it
help for drivers coming toward you is best to signal at least five seconds
or from behind. before changing lanes. Use your turn
signals even when you think no one
else is around. Your turn signals also
The best way to help others see
your motorcycle is to always keep signals
the headlight on. Studies show that
during the day, a motorcycle with
its light on is twice as likely to be
noticed. Using your high beam dur­
ing the day and at night increases the
chances that oncoming drivers will
see you. Use your high beam if it is
legal and safe to do so. When it is
foggy, use the low beam.
Turn Signals
The turn signals on a motorcycle are
similar to those on a car. They tell
others what you plan to do.
However, due to a rider’s added
vulnerability, turn signals are even

- 20 ­
make you easier to see. If bright sun­ must know what is going on behind
light makes your turn signal lights you.
hard to see, use hand signals. Frequent mirror checks should be
When you enter a freeway, drivers part of your normal searching rou­
approaching from behind are more tine. Make a special point of using
likely to see your turn signal blinking your mirrors:
and make room for you. • When you are stopped at an
Using your turn signals before each intersection. Watch cars coming
turn reduces confusion and frustra­ up from behind. If the driver isn’t
tion for the traffic around you. Once paying attention, he could be on
you turn, be sure to turn them off top of you before he sees you.
or a driver may pull directly into • Before you change lanes. Make
your path, thinking you plan to sure no one is about to pass
turn again. you.
Brake Light • Before you slow down. The
Your motorcycle’s brake light is driver behind you may not expect
usually not as noticeable as a vehi­ you to slow, or may be unsure
cle’s—especially when the taillight about where you will slow. For
is on. If the situation permits, help example, you signal a turn and the
others notice you by flashing your driver thinks you plan to turn at
brake light before you slow down. It a distant intersection, rather than
is especially important to flash your at a nearer driveway.
brake light before you slow: Some motorcycles have rounded
• For a tight, fast turn off a high- (convex) mirrors. These mirrors
speed highway. provide a wider view of the road
behind than flat mirrors. They also
• Where others may not expect it
make cars seem farther away than
(in the middle of a block or at
they really are. If you are not used to
an alley).
convex mirrors, you can get familiar
If you are being tailgated, it’s a good with them by:
idea to flash your brake light before
• Picking out a parked car in your
you slow.
mirror (while you are stopped).
Using Your Mirrors • Forming a mental image of how
While it’s most important to know far away it is.
what’s happening ahead, you can’t • Then, turning around and looking
ignore situations behind you. Traf­ to see how close you came.
fic conditions change quickly. In
• Practicing with your mirrors
order to make safe decisions about
until you become a good judge
how to handle trouble ahead, you
of distance.

- 21 ­
• Allowing extra distance before Horn
you change lanes. Be ready to use your horn to get
Head Checks someone’s attention quickly.
Checking your mirrors is not It is a good idea to give a quick beep
enough. Motorcycles have “blind before passing anyone that may
spots” just like other vehicles. move into your lane.
Before you change lanes, turn your Here are some situations:
head and check that lane for other • A driver in the lane next to you is
vehicles. driving too closely to the vehicle
On a road with several lanes, check ahead and may want to pass.
the far lane and the one next to you. • A driver is seated in a parked car
A driver in the distant lane may ahead.
drive into the same space you plan • Someone is in the street riding a
to take. bicycle or walking.
Frequent head checks should be part In an emergency, press the horn but­
of your normal scanning routine. ton loud and long. Be ready to stop
Only by knowing what is happening or swerve away from the danger.
all around, can you be fully prepared
to deal with it. Remember that a motorcycle’s horn
isn’t as loud as a car’s, so use it, but
don’t rely on it. Other strategies
may be appropriate along with the
BlinD spots horn.
Riding at Night
At night it is harder for you to see and
be seen. Picking your motorcycle’s
headlight or taillight out of the other
lights is not easy for drivers. To make
up for this, you should:
• Reduce Your Speed. Ride even
slower than you would during
the day—particularly on roads
you don’t know well. This in­
creases your chances of avoiding
a hazard.
• Increase Distance. Distances
are harder to judge at night than
during the day. Your eyes rely
upon shadows and light contrasts

- 22 ­
to determine how far away an Studies show that most crashes
object is and how fast it is com­ involved riders who:
ing. These contrasts are missing • Underbrake the front tire and
or distorted at night. Open up a overbrake the rear.
three-second or more following
• Did not separate braking from
distance. Allow more distance to
swerving or did not choose
pass and be passed.
to swerve when it was appropri­
• Use the Car Ahead. The head­ ate.
lights of the car ahead can give
you a better view of the road than Quick Stops
your high beam. Taillights bounc­ To stop quickly, apply both brakes
ing up and down can alert you to at the same time. Don’t be shy about
bumps or rough pavement. using the front brake, but don’t
• Use Your High Beam. Get all the “grab” it either. Squeeze the brake
light you can. Use your high beam lever firmly with continuing steady
whenever you are not following or pressure. If the front wheel locks,
approaching another vehicle. Be release the front brake immediately
visible. Wear reflective materials and then reapply it firmly. At the
when riding at night. same time, press down on the rear
brake. If you accidentally lock the
• Be Flexible about lane position.
rear brake on a good traction surface,
Change to the portion of the lane
you can keep it locked until you have
that helps you see, be seen, and
completely stopped.
keep an adequate space cushion.
NOTE: Even with a locked rear
crash avoiDance wheel, you can control the motor­
No matter how careful you are, cycle on a straightaway if it is upright
there will be times when you find and going in a straight line.
yourself in a tight spot. Your chances Always use both brakes at the same
of getting out safely depend on your time to stop. The front brake can
ability to react quickly and properly. provide almost three-quarters of
Often, a crash occurs because a rider your stopping power.
is not prepared or skilled in crash-
If you must stop quickly while
avoidance maneuvers.
turning or riding a curve, the best
Two skills critical in avoiding a crash technique is to straighten the motor­
are knowing when and how to stop cycle first and then brake. However,
or swerve. You can’t always stop it may not always be possible to
quickly to avoid an obstacle. You straighten the motorcycle and then
must also be able to swerve around stop. If you must brake while lean­
an obstacle. ing, apply the brakes lightly and
reduce the throttle. As you slow,

- 23 ­
reduce your lean angle and apply
more brake pressure until the motor­ sWerve, then Brake
cycle is straight and maximum brake
pressure is possible. Then in the last
few feet of stopping, you should
“straighten” the handlebars. The
motorcycle should now be straight
up and in balance.
Swerving or Turning Quickly
Sometimesyou may not have enough
room to stop, even if you use both
brakes properly. An object might ap­
pear suddenly in your path or the car
ahead might stop abruptly. The only Brake, then sWerve
way to avoid a crash may be to turn
quickly or swerve around it.
A swerve is any sudden change in
direction. It can be two quick turns,
or a rapid shift to the side. To swerve,
apply a small amount of hand pres­
sure to the handlegrip on the side of
your intended direction of escape.
This causes the motorcycle to lean
quickly. The sharper the turn(s), the
more the motorcycle must lean.
Keep your body upright and allow
the motorcycle to lean in the direc­ If braking is required, separate
tion of the turn. Keep your knees it from swerving. Brake before or
against the tank and your feet solidly after—never while swerving.
on the pegs. Let the motorcycle move
underneath you. Make your escape Cornering
route the target of your vision. Press A primary cause of single-vehicle
on the opposite handlegrip once you crashes is motorcyclists running
clear the obstacle and are ready to wide in a curve or turn and col­
return to your original direction of liding with the roadway or a fixed
travel. To swerve to the left, press object.
the left handlegrip, then press the Every curve is different. Be alert to
right to recover. To swerve to the whether a curve remains constant,
right, press right, then left. gradually widens, gets tighter, or
involves multiple turns.

- 24 ­
Ride within your skill level and center of your lane before entering
posted speed limits. Your best path a curve and stay there until you exit.
may not always follow the curve This allows you to see approaching
of the road. traffic as soon as possible. You can
Change your lane position based on also adjust for traffic “crowding”
traffic, road conditions, and curve of the center line or debris blocking
the road. If there is no traffic, start part of your lane.
at the outside of a curve to increase hanDling Dangerous surfaces
your line of sight and the effective
Your chance of falling or being in­
radius of the turn. As you turn, move
volved in a crash increases whenever
toward the inside of the curve, and
you ride across:
as you pass the center, move to the
outside to exit. • Uneven surfaces or obstacles.
Another choice is to move to the • Slippery surfaces.

constant curves multiple curves

Decreasing curves WiDening curves

- 25 ­
• Railroad tracks or pavement • Gravel roads or where sand and
seams. gravel collect.
• Grooves and gratings. • Mud, snow, and ice.
Uneven Surfaces and Obstacles • Lane markings, steel plates,
and manhole covers, especially
Watch for uneven surfaces such as
when wet.
bumps, broken pavement, potholes,
or small pieces of highway trash. To ride safely on slippery
Avoid obstacles by slowing or going
around them. However, if you must • Reduce Speed . Slow down
go over the obstacle, first determine before you get to a slippery sur­
if it’s possible. Approach it at as close face to reduce your chances of
to a 90° angle as possible. Look skidding. When slippery, your
where you want to go to control your motorcycle needs more distance
path of travel. If you have to ride to stop. It is especially important
over the obstacle, you should: to reduce speed before entering
wet curves.
• Slow down as much as possible
before contact. • Avoid Sudden Moves. Any sud­
den change in speed or direction
• Make sure the motorcycle is
can cause a skid. Be as smooth as
possible when you speed up, shift
• Rise slightly off the seat with your gears, turn, or brake.
weight on the footpegs to absorb
• Use Both Brakes. The front brake
the shock with your knees and
is still effective, even on a slippery
elbows and avoid being thrown
surface. Squeeze the brake lever
off the motorcycle.
gradually to avoid locking the front
• Just before contact, roll on the wheel. Remember to use gentle
throttle slightly to lighten the pressure on the rear brake.
front end.
• RememberThat the Center of a
If you ride over an object, pull off Lane Can be Hazardous When
the road and check your tires and Wet. When it starts to rain, ride in
rims for damage before riding any a vehicle’s tire tracks. Often, the
farther. left tire track will be the best lane
Slippery Surfaces position, depending on traffic and
Motorcycles handle better on sur­ other road conditions as well.
faces with good traction. Surfaces • Watch For Oil Spots when you
with poor traction include: put your foot down to stop or park.
• Wet pavement, particularly just You may slip and fall.
after it starts to rain and before • Be Cautious of the Edge of the
surface oil washes to the side of Road. Dirt and gravel collect
the road. along the sides of the road, espe­
- 26 ­
cially on curves and ramps leading sharp turn. Edging across could
to and from highways. catch your tires and throw you off
• RememberRain Dries and Snow balance.
Melts Faster on Some Sections
of a Road than on others. Patches crossing tracks-right
of ice tend to develop in low or
shaded areas and on bridges and
overpasses. Wet leaves are just as
slippery as wet road surfaces. Ride
on the least slippery portion of the
lane and reduce your speed. crossing tracks-Wrong
Cautious riders steer clear of roads
covered with ice or snow. If you
can’t avoid an icy or snowy surface,
keep your motorcycle straight up
and proceed as slowly as possible.
If you encounter a large surface so
slippery that you must coast, or travel
Grooves and Gratings
at a walking pace, consider letting
your feet skim along the surface. If Riding over rain grooves or bridge
the motorcycle starts to fall, you can gratings may cause your motorcycle
catch yourself. Be sure to keep off to weave. This uneasy, “wandering”
the brakes. If possible, squeeze the feeling is generally not hazardous.
clutch and coast. Attempting this Relax and maintain a steady speed
maneuver at anything other than and ride straight across. Crossing
the slowest of speeds could prove at an angle forces riders to zigzag
grate crossing-Wrong
Railroad or Trolley Tracks and
Pavement Seams
Usually it is safer to ride straight
within your lane to cross tracks.
Turning to take tracks head-on (at
a 90° angle) can be more dangerous
because your path may carry you grate crossing-right
into another lane of traffic.
For track and road seams that run
parallel to your course, move far
enough away from tracks, ruts, or
pavement seams to cross at an angle
of at least 45°. Then, make a quick,

- 27 ­
to stay in the lane. The zigzag is far • When the motorcycle slows, ride
more hazardous than the wandering to the side of the road, squeeze the
feeling. clutch, and stop.
mechanical proBlems Stuck Throttle
You can find yourself in an emer­ Twist the throttle back and forth
gency the moment something goes several times. If the throttle cable is
wrong with your motorcycle. In stuck, this may free it. If the throttle
dealing with any mechanical prob­ stays stuck, immediately operate
lem, take into account the road and the engine cut-off switch and pull
traffic conditions you face. Here in the clutch at the same time. This
are some guidelines that can help will remove power from the rear
you handle mechanical problems wheel, though engine noise may
safely. not immediately decline. Once the
motorcycle is “under control,” leave
Tire Failure
the road and stop.
You will seldom hear a tire go flat.
After you have stopped, check the
If the motorcycle starts handling
throttle cable carefully to find the
differently, it may be a tire failure.
trouble. Make certain the throttle
You must be able to tell from the way
works freely before you start rid­
the motorcycle reacts if you have tire
ing again.
failure. If one of your tires suddenly
loses air, react quickly to keep your Wobble
balance. Stop riding and check the A “wobble” occurs when the front
tires as soon as possible. wheel and handlebars suddenly start
If the front tire goes flat, the steering to shake from side to side at any
will feel “heavy.” Afront-wheel flat speed. Most wobbles can be traced to
is particularly hazardous because it improper loading, unsuitable ac­
affects your steering. You have to cessories, or incorrect tire pressure.
steer well to keep your balance. If you are carrying a heavy load,
If the rear tire goes flat, the back of lighten it. If you can’t lighten the
the motorcycle may jerk or sway load, shift it. Center the weight
from side to side. lower and farther forward on the
motorcycle. Make sure the tire pres­
If either tire goes flat while riding:
sure, spring pre-load, air shocks, and
• Hold the handlegrips firmly, ease dampers are at the recommended
off the throttle, and keep a straight settings for that much weight. Make
course. sure windshields and fairings are
• If braking is required, gradually mounted properly.
apply the brake of the tire that
isn’t flat, if you are sure which
one it is.

- 28 ­
Check for poorly adjusted steering, Engine Seizure
worn steering parts, a front wheel When the engine “locks” or “freez­
that is bent, misaligned, or out of es” it is usually low on oil. If the
balance, loose wheel bearings or engine’s moving parts can’t move
spokes, and swing arm bearings. If smoothly against each other, the
none of these are the cause, have the engine overheats. The first sign may
motorcycle thoroughly checked by be a loss of engine power or a change
a qualified professional. in the engine’s sound. Squeeze the
Trying to “accelerate out of a wob­ clutch lever to disengage the en­
ble” will only make the motorcycle gine from the rear wheel. Pull off
more unstable. Instead: the road and stop. Check the oil. If
• Grip the handlebars firmly, but needed, add oil as soon as possible
don’t fight the wobble. or the engine will seize. When this
happens, the effect is the same as a
• Close the throttle gradually to
locked rear wheel. Let the engine
slow down. Do not apply the
cool before restarting.
brakes; braking could make the
wobble worse. animals
• Move your weight as far forward Do everything you safely can do to
and down as possible. avoid hitting an animal. If you are
• Leave the road as soon as you can in traffic, however, remain in your
to fix the problem. lane. Hitting something small is
less dangerous to you than hitting
Chain Problems something big—like a car.
A chain that slips or breaks while Motorcycles seem to attract dogs.
you’re riding could lock the rear If you are chased, downshift and
wheel and cause your motorcycle approach the animal slowly. As
to skid. Chain slippage or break­ you approach it, accelerate away
age can be avoided by proper and leave the animal behind. Don’t
maintenance. kick at an animal. Keep control of
• Slippage. If the chain slips when your motorcycle.
you try to speed up or ride uphill, For larger animals (deer, elk, cattle)
pull off the road. Check the chain brake and prepare to stop—they are
and sprockets. Tightening the unpredictable.
chain may help. Replace the chain,
the sprockets, or both before rid­ flying oBjects
ing again, if needed. From time to time riders are struck
• Breakage—You’ll notice an by insects, cigarettes thrown from
instant loss of power to the rear vehicles, or pebbles kicked up by
wheel. Close the throttle and brake the tires of the vehicle ahead. If
to a stop. you are wearing face protection,

- 29 ­
it might get smeared or cracked, carrying passengers anD
making it difficult to see. Without cargo
face protection, an object could Only experienced riders should
hit you in the eye, face, or mouth. carry passengers or large loads.
Whatever happens, keep your The extra weight changes the way
eyes on the road and your hands on the motorcycle handles, balances,
the handlebars. When safe, pull off speeds up, and slows down. Before
the road and repair the damage. taking a passenger or a heavy load
getting off the roaD on the street, practice away from
If you need to leave the road to check traffic.
the motorcycle (or just to rest for a Equipment
while), be sure you: To carry passengers safely:
• Check the roadside. Make sure • E q u i p a n d a d j u s t y o u r
the roadside is firm enough to ride motorcycle to carry passengers.
on. If it is soft grass, loose sand,
or if you’re just not sure about it, • Instruct the passenger before
slow way down before you turn you start.
onto it. • Adjust your riding technique for
• Signal. Drivers behind might not the added weight.
expect you to slow down. Give Equipment should include:
a clear signal that you will be • Aproper seat large enough to hold
slowing and changing direction. both of you without crowding.
Check your mirror and make a You should not sit any farther
head check before you take any forward than you usually do.
action. • Footrests for the passenger. Firm
• Pull off the road. Get as far off footing prevents your passenger
the road as you can. It can be very from falling off and pulling you
hard to see a motorcycle by the off, too.
side of the road. You don’t want • Protective equipment should be
someone else leaving the road at the same protective gear recom­
the same place you are. mended for operators.
• Park carefully. Loose and sloped Adjust the suspension to handle
shoulders can make setting the the additional weight. You will
side or center stand difficult. probably need to add a few pounds
of pressure to the tires if you carry
a passenger. (Check your owner’s
manual for appropriate settings.)
While your passenger sits on the

- 30 ­
seat with you, adjust the mirror and • Ride a little slower, especially
headlight according to the change in when taking curves, corners, or
the motorcycle’s angle. bumps.
Instructing Passengers • Begin slowing sooner as you ap­
proach a stop.
Even if your passenger is a mo­
torcycle rider, provide complete • Open up a larger cushion of space
instructions before you start. Tell ahead and to the sides.
your passenger to: • Wait for larger gaps to cross, enter,
• Get on the motorcycle only after or merge with traffic.
you have started the engine. Warn your passenger of these spe­
• Sit as far forward as possible cial conditions: Starting, stopping
without crowding you. quickly, turning sharply, or riding
over bumps. Turn your head slightly
• Hold firmly to your waist, hips,
to make yourself understood, but
or belt.
keep your eyes on the road ahead.
• Keep both feet on the pegs, even
when stopped. Carrying Loads
• Keep legs away from the Most motorcycles are not designed
muffler(s), chains, or moving to carry much cargo. Small loads
parts. can be carried safely, if positioned
and fastened properly.
• Stay directly behind you leaning
as you lean. • Keep the Load Low. Fasten loads
securely, or put them in saddle­
• Avoid unnecessary talk or mo­
bags. Stacking loads against a
sissybar or frame on the back of
Also, tell your passenger to tighten the seat raises the motorcycle’s
his or her hold when you: center of gravity and shifts its
• Approach surface problems. balance.
• Are about to start from a stop. • Keep the Load Forward. Place
• Warn that you will make a sud­ the load over, or in front of, the
den move. rear axle. Tank bags keep loads
forward, but use caution when
Riding With Passengers loading hard or sharp objects.
Your motorcycle will respond Make sure the tank bag does
more slowly with a passenger. The not interfere with handlebars or
heavier your passenger, the longer controls. Mounting a load behind
it will take to slow down and speed the rear axle affects how the mo­
up—especially on a light-duty torcycle turns and brakes. It can
motorcycle. also cause a wobble.

- 31 ­
• Distribute the Load Evenly. • Put Beginners Up Front. Place
Load saddlebags with about the inexperienced riders behind the
same weight. An uneven load leader so the more experienced
can cause the motorcycle to drift riders can watch them.
to one side. • Follow Those Behind. Let the
• Secure the Load. Fasten the load last rider set the pace. Use your
securely with elastic cords (bun­ mirrors to keep an eye on the
gee cords or nets). Elastic cords person behind. If a rider falls be­
with more than one attachment hind, everyone should slow down
point per side are more secure. A a little to stay together.
tight load won’t catch in the wheel • Know the Route. Make sure
or chain, causing it to lock up and everyone knows the route. Then,
skid. Ropes tend to stretch and if someone is separated he/she
knots can come loose, permitting won’t have to hurry to keep from
the load to shift or fall. getting lost or taking a wrong
• Check the Load. Stop and check turn. Plan frequent stops on long
the load often to make sure it has rides.
not worked loose or moved.
Keep Your Distance
group riDing Maintain close ranks but at the same
If you ride with others, do it in a way time keep a safe distance to allow
that promotes safety and doesn’t each rider in the group time and
interfere with the flow of traffic. space to react to hazards. A close
group takes up less space on the
Keep the Group Small
highway, is easier to see, and is less
Small groups make it easier and safer likely to be separated. However, this
for other drivers to get around them. formation must be done properly.
A small number isn’t separated as
• Don’t Pair Up. Never operate
easily by traffic or red lights. Some
directly alongside another rider.
riders won’t always be hurrying to
There is no place to go to avoid
catch up. If your group is larger than
a car or a hazard on the road.
four or five riders, divide it into two
To talk, wait until you are both
or more smaller groups.
Keep the Group Together • Staggered Formation. This is
• Plan. The leader should look the best way to keep ranks close
ahead for changes and signal early yet maintain an adequate space
so there is plenty of time for every­ cushion. The leader rides in the
one to follow. Start lane changes left portion of the lane while the
early to permit everyone to com­ second rider stays one second
plete the lane change safely. behind in the right portion of the

- 32 ­
staggereD formation to pass. After passing, this rider
returns to the right portion of
the lane and opens up room for
the next rider.
– Some people suggest that the
leader should move to the
right portion of the lane after
passing a vehicle. This is not
a good idea. 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.
It’s simpler and safer to wait
until there is enough room
ahead of the passed vehicle to
allow each rider to move into
lane. A third rider rides in the left the same position held before
portion of the lane two seconds the pass.
behind the first rider. The fourth • Single-File Formation. Move
rider keeps a two-second distance into a single-file formation when
behind the second rider. This for­ riding curves, turning, or entering
mation keeps the group close and or leaving a highway.
permits each rider a safe distance
from others ahead, behind, and to
the sides.
– Passing in formation. Riders in
a staggered formation should
pass one at a time.
– First, the lead rider pulls out
and passes when safe. After
passing, the leader returns to
the left portion of the lane and
continues riding at “passing
speed” to open room for the
next rider.
– After the first rider passes
safely, the second rider moves
up to the left portion of the lane
and watches for a safe chance

- 33 ­
BeiNG iN shaPe 5-ounce glass of 12% wine, or a 12­
to riDe
ounce glass of 5% beer. These “one
drink” equivalents change if you
Riding a motorcycle is a demanding drink ale, malt liquors, or fortified
and complex task. Skilled riders pay wines or if you drink on an empty
attention to their riding environment stomach, are tired, sick, upset, or
and to operating the motorcycle, have taken medicines or drugs.
identifying potential hazards, mak­
ing good judgments, and executing The faster you drink, the more alco­
decisions quickly and skillfully. hol accumulates in your body. If you
Your ability to perform and respond drink two drinks in an hour, at the
to changing road and traffic condi­ end of that hour, at least one drink
tions is influenced by how fit and will remain in your bloodstream.
alert you are. Alcohol and other alcohol anD the laW
drugs, more than any other factor, In California, a person 21 years of
affect your ability to think clearly age or older with a BAC of .08% or
and to ride safely. As little as one above is considered intoxicated. It
alcoholic drink can have a significant doesn’t matter how sober you may
effect on your performance. look or act. A breath or blood test
BlooD alcohol concentration is what usually determines whether
Blood alcohol concentration or BAC you are riding legally or illegally.
is the amount of alcohol in relation to IMPORTANT: You cannot le­
blood in the body. Generally, alcohol gally purchase beer, wine, or hard
can be eliminated in the body at the liquor if you are under the age
rate of almost one drink per hour. of 21. The law is very strict if
But a variety of other factors may you are under 21 and drive with
also influence the level of alcohol a BAC that is 0.01% or more
retained. The more alcohol in your (VC §23136). The California Driver
blood, the greater the degree of Handbook has more information.
impairment. Your chances of being stopped for
Three factors play a major part in riding under the influence of alcohol
determining BAC: are increasing. Law enforcement is
• The amount of alcohol you con­ being stepped up across the country
sume. in response to the senseless deaths
and injuries caused by drinking
• How fast you drink. drivers and riders.
• Your body weight.
“One drink” is a 1 1/2-ounce
shot of 80-proof liquor (even if
mixed with non-alcoholic drinks), a

- 34 ­
minimize the risks MotorcYcle
Minimize the risks of drinking iNsUraNce Facts
and riding by taking the following The financial responsibility sec­
steps: tions of the Vehicle Code apply to
Don’t Drink. Once you start, your all two-wheel vehicle owners and
resistance becomes weaker. operators.
Or Don’t Ride. If you haven’t If you, as an operator, are involved
controlled your drinking, you must in an accident which causes more
control your riding. than $750 in property damage to
one person, including yourself, or in
fatigue which anyone, including yourself, is
Riding a motorcycle is more tiring injured, no matter how slightly, you
than driving a car, especially on a (or your insurance agent, broker, or
long trip. Avoid riding when tired. legal representative) must report the
Fatigue can affect your control of accident to DMV. The CHPor police
the motorcycle. will not make this report.
• Protect yourself from the ele- You must make this report within
ments. Wind, cold, and rain make 10 days on the Report of Traffic
you tire quickly. Dress warmly. A Accident Occurring in California
windshield is worth its cost if you (SR1) form. You can get this form
plan to ride long distances. from any DMV or CHP office. This
• Limit your distance. Experi­ form is also available on DMV’s
enced riders seldom try to ride web site at Refer
more than about six hours a day. to the California Driver Handbook
• Take frequent rest breaks. Stop for more information.
and get off the motorcycle at least Check with your insurance company
every two hours. about your coverage before you buy
• Don’t drink alcohol or use or ride a motorcycle.
drugs. Artificial stimulants often
result in extreme fatigue or de­
pression as they start to wear off.
You won’t be able to concentrate
on the task at hand.

- 35 ­
eVaDiNG a Peace • Avoid running overyoung trees,
shrubs, and grasses—this can
damage or kill them.
Any person who willfully flees or
attempts to evade a peace officer • Stay off soft, wet roads and trails
performing his/her duties is guilty readily torn up by vehicles.
of a misdemeanor punishable by • Travel around meadows, steep
imprisonment in a county jail for not hillsides, or stream banks and lake
more than one year (VC §2800.1). shores easily scarred by churning
If a person is convicted of causing wheels.
serious bodily injury during the • Resist the urge to pioneer a new
course of a police pursuit (VC road or trail, or to cut across a
§2800.3[a]), he/she is subject to: switchback.
• Imprisonment in a state prison • Stay away from wild animals
for three, five, or seven years or that are rearing young—or suf­
in a county jail for not more than fering from food shortages. The
one year. stress uses up their limited energy
• A fine of not less than $2,000 nor reserves.
more than $10,000. • Obey gate closures and regula­
• Both that fine and imprison­ tory signs.
ment. • Stay out of designated wilder-
If a person is convicted of killing ness areas. Know where the
anyone during the course of a police boundaries are. Vandalism costs
pursuit (VC §2800.3[b]), he/she is tax dollars.
subject to imprisonment in a state • Get permission to travel across
prison for four, six, or ten years. private lands. Respect landowner
treaD liGhtlY!
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS),
Bureau of Land Management
(BLM), and California Department
of Parks and Recreation would
like you to TREAD LIGHTLY!
• Obtain a Travel Map from your
local USFS or BLM office, or
regulations from other public
land agencies. Learn the rules and
follow them.

- 36 ­
CheCk out these serviCes

oNliNe serVice
• Renew your driver license and
vehicle registration.
• Complete a change of address.
• Make appointments
(except commercial driving test).
• Complete a release of liability.
• Take a sample driver license test.
• Order special plates.
• Get forms, brochures, and handbooks.
• Find answers to your questions.
• Calculate registration fees.

telePhoNe serVice
Call 1-800-921-1117 and use the
Automated Voice Recognition System to:
• Make appointments (except driving test)
• Pay registration renewals
Call 1-800-777-0133 to:
• Get forms and publications.
• Listen to general information.
• Get field office locations, hours, and driving
• Make an appointment for a driving test
– Between 8-5, Mon., Tues., Thurs., & Fri.
– Between 9-5 on Wed.

- 37 ­
Products or services provided by advertisers are not promoted or endorsed by DMV.

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

- 39 ­
Products or services provided by advertisers are not promoted or endorsed by DMV.

Name: __________________________________________________________________

Address: ________________________________________________________________

City, State, ZIP Code: ______________________________________________________

- 40 - DL 665 English (Rev. 3/2009)