John Mitchell's Motorcycle Safety Tips
John Mitchell on his 1995 "Classic" Harley (click to
After riding over 50,000 miles and having many "safety" discussions
we have learned some
things that may help keep other riders safe. Please feel free to email your own
additions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- When riding with others let the lead rider choose the course. If he
makes a wrong turn just follow him. There will be plenty of time to
turn around. If the group splits up it is dangerous because riders
will lose concentration.
- In a large group, change lanes only when necessary. Each time lanes
are changed it makes it dangerous for the ones in the back.
- When riding with others never ride in the middle of the lane. Stay
left or right so the view is not obstructed and so that you can see each other.
- When riding with others try to stay reasonably close so that if someone
gets in trouble everyone will know it immediately.
- When riding on the left lane of a 2-lane highway the lead rider should
stay to the left to give additional room should a car in the right lane move
to the left lane unexpectedly as you are passing.
- When riding on the right lane of a 2-lane highway the lead rider should
stay to the right to give additional room should a car in the left lane move
to the right lane unexpectedly.
- When riding on a 3-lane highway stay in the left side of the middle lane to give you the broadest escape
route in the event of trouble and to give additional room should a car in
the right lane move to the left unexpectedly as you are passing.
- On air cooled engine bikes such as a Harley never put travel gear in the front that
obstructs air flow. You can fry your engine.
- Enter steep drives in the lowest gear. It is often difficult to downshift several
- Always take a first time passenger for a safety ride in a large parking lot or on quiet
streets so both of you will feel comfortable before you get on the open road.
- Try to avoid driving in the dark.
- Get hotel rooms in the back so your bike will not be visible from the road overnight.
- Never stay behind a vehicle with a trailer. Occasionally the trailer comes loose or
things blow off the trailer.
- Never stay behind a truck or any other vehicle with things strapped on that could blow
- Ask your passenger to look far ahead to spot trouble.
- A good leader is one that does not change lanes frequently, knows how to get where the
group is going, does not miss turns and gets everyone there and back safely.
- Always stay 4 seconds away from the vehicle in front of you. You can stop quicker than a
vehicle behind you,
- Try to avoid passing another vehicle on the outside of a turn. If they drift wide you may be
forced off the road.
- Try to avoid passing on highway curving turns since your forward view is always obstructed.
- Stay to the right of a curving left turn to allow the longest view of what is ahead.
Stay to the left of a curving right turn.
- Always wear rubber sole boots so that you have traction when you put your foot down..
- Avoid riding up against a narrow or non-existent shoulder because this cuts down your
- Keep two fingers, of the throttle hand, on the break when maneuvering at slow speeds or
when walking the bike.
- On one-way roads with traffic entering from the right and left stay to the opposite side
of entering vehicles and assume they will pull in front of you.
- Most injury accidents occur with on-coming vehicles making un-expected left turns into
you so try to stay close to vehicles in front of you that can shield you through these
- Use extra caution when putting your foot down at a toll booth. Oil droppings make
the ground very slippery.
- Always check your tires and your tire pressure before a trip.
- Do not stay behind a vehicle that obstructs your forward vision. Go around vans,
trucks so you can see 12 seconds in front of you.
- Always back into parking spots. Heavy bikes are impossible to push in the reverse
- If your bike falls over, lock the handle bars so that you can use a "locked"
grip to get leverage to pick your bike up.
- Put some small diameter hose in your bike so that you can siphon gas if necessary.
- On trips always watch for leaks of any kind on your bike and on your companion's bike.
- Always let the rider on the inside of a turn proceed first.
- Look in the rear view mirrors regularly and note the position of vehicles that are
behind you. If you need to change lanes quickly you may not have time to see what is
- If you are riding directly into the sun, pull over for 20 minutes and let the sun go
- When riding with others ride staggered at the first sign of road narrowing or lane
- Unless there is an emergency, never ride another person's bike. Each bike has
subtle differences that you will not be familiar with.
- To support your bike when a passenger mounts and dismounts, stand on the ground
straddling your bike and pull up on the handle bars.
- In large group rides always stay further back from the vehicle in front of you.
- If you have to ride through sand you must slow down and "walk" the bike
through it. You cannot control your front wheel in sand or deep gravel.
- Get Totes zippered boots if you plan to ride in the rain. Wet leather boots are
- Get a snap-on wind shield for any long rides.
- Tuck your pants into your boots for rides where bees could be blown up your pant legs.
- Bring your own "highway pegs" if you do bike rental trip.
- Bring two sets of bike keys on any long trips and give one to your companion. If
you lose a key you cannot lock/unlock your bike or gas it up.
- Do not go to Sturgis more times than your wife or girlfriend will allow.
Mitchell Selling Dynamics, Inc.
1360 Puritan Avenue, Birmingham, Michigan 48009, USA
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