If you received a motorcycle this holiday season, congratulations! However, your new bike isn’t like a sweater you can just start wearing the next day. It takes practice and training to ride a motorcycle safely. You’re going to have to take some time to learn about your new present before you actually get to use it.
But don’t worry. After all, it’s still winter in Indiana, and although you can ride during the winter, you’re not missing much if you don’t. Here are five tips to help you practice and prepare so you can start riding when the weather warms up.
1. Apply for a Motorcycle Learner’s Permit
As long as you have a valid Indiana driver’s license, you can apply for a motorcycle learner’s permit. This allows you to practice riding your new motorcycle before applying for your motorcycle endorsement, which is the motorcycle world’s equivalent of a license.
In addition to having an Indiana driver’s license, you must also pass a knowledge test about the Motorcycle Operator’s Manual in order to qualify for a learner’s permit. You’ll also need a parent or guardian to sign an Agreement of Financial Liability if you’re younger than 18 years old.
If you earn your permit, you’ll still have to follow certain rules about when and how you can ride your motorcycle. Even though Indiana doesn’t require those with motorcycle endorsements to wear helmets, those with motorcycle learner’s permits must wear a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT). You also can only ride between half an hour before sunrise and half an hour after sunset. Passengers are forbidden while you have a motorcycle learner’s permit.
Your learner’s permit is good for a year, and you can renew it only once. Give yourself as much time as you need to practice and really feel comfortable on your motorcycle before applying for your motorcycle endorsement.
2. Take a Ride Safe Indiana (RSI) Motorcycle Training Course
To get a motorcycle endorsement, you’re going to have to either take a motorcycle knowledge test and a riding skills test, or you’re going to have to successfully complete a RSI motorcycle training course.
Ride Safe Indiana (RSI) is the government of Indiana’s official motorcycle safety program. Their Basic RiderCourse is designed for riders of all ages and includes five hours of classroom time in addition to 10 hours of practical riding time. You can even use one of their motorcycles free of charge during your training.
RSI training courses are a great investment to help you get the skills you need to ride safely. Remember, if you successfully complete a course, you’ll be on your way to a motorcycle endorsement in no time.
3. Ride Defensively
Maybe you’re a defensive driver by nature. You need to be twice as defensive when you’re on a motorcycle.
At least in a car, you have a few built-in safety features: airbags, seatbelts, crumple zones, etc. On a motorcycle, you have no such security. Not only are you completely exposed to other vehicles, pedestrians, and objects around you, but you’re also typically difficult for other drivers to see. You need to ride like you understand that one wrong move could end in disaster.
That means increasing your following distance, obeying the speed limit, and staying in your lane instead of illegally lane-splitting. Ride where you can be seen. Avoid blind spots and don’t tailgate.
4. Check Your Bike
Yes, your motorcycle is new, but that doesn’t mean it’s flawless. Make sure your tires are properly inflated, your brake lights work, your mirrors are positioned correctly, and you have enough gas for the ride you’re taking. If you decide to put your bike in storage until the weather warms up, it’s even more important to make sure everything is in proper working order before you take it for a ride this spring.
5. Wear the Right Equipment
We hope Santa delivered some gear with your new bike because you’re going to need it.
As mentioned before, you’re not legally required to wear a helmet in Indiana if you’re over 18, but we strongly recommend you do so. A helmet can not only protect you from death in the event of a motorcycle accident but can also reduce your chance of brain injury in general after an accident.
But you shouldn’t stop there. The rest of your body needs to be protected as well. It’s estimated that you lose an additional millimeter of flesh for every mile per hour you travel over 30 miles per hour. A pair of jeans and an off-the-rack leather jacket aren’t going to put up a very good fight against the pavement. Invest in jackets, pants, boots, gloves, and other gear that are specifically made to protect motorcycle riders.
Help from an Indiana Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Congratulations on your new motorcycle. We hope you have fun riding it and always make it home safely. But no matter how careful of a rider you are, someone else’s recklessness could still cause you to get into a motorcycle accident. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, Hensley Legal Group can help. Call us today or contact us online. Your initial consultation is on us.