The One Skill that Makes an Awesome Motorcycle Rider
What is the one skill that makes an awesome motorcycle rider? You might think it’s some hands-on skill with your bike, such as popping a wheelie or knowing how to repair your engine. But no, the answer is much simpler and more elegant than that: motorcycle etiquette.
Motorcycle etiquette, however, is more complex than knowing a simple skill to ride. It is more of a code of conduct, almost a way of life for those who live by it. Let’s break this idea down and take a look at the complexities of motorcycle etiquette.
Rule of the Road #biker
Whether you’re a novice rider or a well-seasoned one, you know there are unspoken rules of the road for motorcyclists. Even your everyday motorist knows this. Truckers have a similar brotherhood, if you will, that you’ll notice regardless of what you drive.
Rule #1 - Don't Be a Jerk
Let’s just get this one out of the way, shall we? Just because you happen to be riding a fast vehicle that allows one to weave in and out of traffic, does not mean you should. These motorcyclists usually don’t seem to care about those around them and only think about themselves.
When Mom is driving her minivan to take Bobby to soccer practice, she’s not exactly expecting to be cut off by a motorcycle out of the blue. Being a jerk is rude, and not only puts your own life at risk, but Mom’s and Bobby’s as well. Unless you have some emergency situation, there is no reason to ride your bike like a wildman.
Rule #2 - Obey Traffic Laws
This one goes hand-in-hand with “don’t be a jerk” above. If you’re obeying all the traffic laws as you should, then you won’t ride like a jerk, now will you? Stop at the red, stop behind the crosswalk, and respect the other vehicles on the road.
Motorcycles are small, while trucks and semis are not. If you do not obey the laws and pass on the left, use your signals, or run the red, you run the risk of getting yourself run over.
Besides, it’s usually the one riding like a jerk who isn’t obeying traffic laws. Lane-splitting might be legal where you live but be discerning when doing so. Not every driver is going to be prepared for a motorcycle zipping by at a fast rate of speed.
Rule #3 - Lend a Hand
Motorcyclists help each other out, that’s a given. Since riders in the open air are more vulnerable than those inside a car, when one rider sees another in distress by the side of the road, do what you’d want someone to do for you. Pull over and see if they’re okay.
Again, motorcycle etiquette is a code of conduct and those who ride respect others who do as well. Pull over and lend a hand if someone is broken down or call 911 if they’ve been in an accident. Not only is this proper etiquette, this is simply being a decent human being.
Rule #4 - Give a Wave
It’s an unspoken rule, but if you see another rider and it’s safe to do so, acknowledge them with a little wave. It’s not necessary, but again, it is respectful, and it ensures the other rider knows they’ve been seen. Just as in lending a hand above, it solidifies in the other rider’s mind that if they did need help on the side of the road, there are those in the world who would stop to help a brother or sister out.
Rule #5 - Don't Sneak Up on Other Riders
If you have a larger bike or a loud muffler, passing another rider suddenly and unexpectedly is extremely rude. Not only is it rude but it can scare the other rider unnecessarily, thus making them swerve or crash. Again, don’t be a jerk and respect others on the road.
Rule #6 - If in a Group, Respect the Group
If you’re riding in a group, make sure to respect those you’re riding with by holding your position in the pack. If you decide to go your own way and blast through the pack to be first, it’s unlikely you’ll be asked to ride with the group again. Just sit back and enjoy the wind in your hair and the road rolling on by!
Rule #7 - Respect Your Personal Skill Level
Look, don’t show off. If you’re a novice, ride like a novice and take the time and care to learn not only how your bike handles but these motorcycle etiquette rules. No one is impressed by your display of bravado on the road.
Be smart, be safe, and be respectful. Even if you are a veteran rider and know your bike like the back of your hand, it will do you good to continue in these etiquette rules, not only for the safety of other drivers, but to teach these young upstarts a thing or two.
Rule #8 - Don't Trash-Talk Someone's Bike
Just because you might have an expensive bike or one that just rolled off the showroom floor, respect the rides of other motorcyclists. You’re all in it together! Why not join up together and have fun on the road instead of engaging in trash-talk?
This is what decent grown-up people do.
Let the Rubber Hit the Road
If there’s any one skill that makes for an awesome motorcycle rider, it is this motorcycle etiquette, or to say in a simpler, more succinct word, respect. Respect other riders and drivers, respect the road, and respect your bike. All of these skills are essential to learn, whether you’re riding long distances or up to the grocery store.
Those who share the road with you will thank you. It’s quite surprising how many bikers in the world don’t live by this code of conduct. Don’t let this be said of you!
Respect, friend, is the key.