Riding Tips

Safe Riding Rules


  1. Make sure you’re riding on a safe, well-maintained bike.
  2. When riding in a group, pay attention to 2-3 bikes ahead of you and the bike behind you.
  3. Staggered formation does not mean side-by-side riding.
  4. Always keep a safe distance between you and the bike ahead of you.
  5. When riding in a group, do NOT slow down and then speed up.
  6. When riding in a group, do NOT overtake.
  7. Make Hand SignalsGroup Riding Etiquette and always pass them.
  8. When riding in a group, do NOT stop if a biker breaks-down/pulls over.
  9. When parking, respect the parking formation.
  10. New riders must ride in the front.

Pre-Ride Checklist

Before you ride your Harley®, Check / do the following:

  1. Make a 360 degree visual inspection of your bike.
  2. Oil level.
  3. Turn signals (Front and rear).
  4. Stop light (from both break levers, when applicable).
  5. Head lamp (Low and high beams).
  6. Horn.
  7. Tires – Inflation.
  8. Tires – Thread ware and sidewalls.
  9. Brakes (Front and rear).
  10. Battery power.

Prepare Your Bike

Adjust For You:
Make sure your motorcycle “fits” you. Adjust the handlebars, suspension and floorboards or foot-pegs well in advance of your trip. Experiment with different positions on short rides to determine your best fit.

Be sure to stay within the recommended load capacity of your motorcycle. Weigh everything you plan to take on a trip, including yourself in full riding gear.

Balance Act:
Balance your load by putting heaviest items as close to the center of your motorcycle as possible and do not put too much weight on the back. Pack saddlebags from side to side, keeping the weight evenly balanced. The items you’ll need first should be on top.

Take along these handy items; tire pressure gauge, rags to keep your bike clean and a first-aid kit.

Stay Dry:
Pack things in plastic bags and carry a few plastic bags for wet weather to wear over your boots to keep your feet dry.

The Once-Over:
Check your motorcycle every morning for oil level and general operating condition.

Prepare Yourself

Fit to Ride:
The better physical shape you are in, the less tiring and more enjoyable motorcycle riding will be for you.

Be Seen:
Enjoy what you’re seeing, but be sure you are being seen. Ride with your lights on and wear bright clothing.

Multiple Layers:
Dress by layering. Start with a T-shirt, then add a long sleeve cotton or flannel shirt, a wool sweater or vest and leather jacket. As temperatures change, layers can be removed or added. Always bring gloves. Even in summer, a cool morning breeze can make hands unbearably cold.

Plan Ahead:
Plan your trip well in advance and check road and weather conditions before leaving.

On The Road

Ride Relaxed:
Don’t overreact to the discovery of new things, such as rain grooves cut into the pavement. When reaching these grooves, keep your speed steady and don’t fight the vibration in the handlebars.

Proper Position:
Never ride in someone’s blind spot and always expect the unexpected. Ride to the left of the center of your lane to avoid oil build-up on the pavement and so cars won’t crowd your lane space. Don’t tailgate and make sure no one is tailgating you. Flash ’em Use a “flicker” of the high-low beam to gain added attention of drivers at intersections and driveways.

Shock Therapy:
If lightning starts, take cover immediately. Unlike a car, a motorcycle leaves you exposed to electric shock.

Start Smart:
Harley-Davidson urges all new motorcycle touring enthusiasts to take short weekend trips to learn the subtle characteristics of their motorcycles before taking to the highways for extended tours.

Ride Better:
Finally, instruction courses should be taken on a regular basis, regardless of riding experience. Both beginner and advanced courses are available.

Riding in the Rain

Most riders experience riding in the rain quite by accident. You take off on a ride when the sun is shining, birds are singing, and fluffy clouds float lazily thru the blue sky… and then the day turn ominously dark as the horizon rears up with dark ugly thunderheads. (Naturally, they are between you and home!) Suddenly, you realize you are about to get your first taste of wet asphalt, like it or not.

Riding in the rain is an unavoidable part of riding. However, if you are properly prepared, it can be done safely. The greatest risks are reduced traction and reduced visibility. With a little planning and preventative maintenance, you can safely manage those risks.

Tire maintenance, air pressure and visual inspection, are not something to do when it rains; it’s done before it rains. Tires that are worn below acceptable tread depths dramatically affect the ability of the tire to squeeze water away from the roadway and the tread face.

Things To Remember

  1. Smooth steering-no sudden movements.
  2. Gradual even pressure on the brakes.
  3. Speed- must match the conditions you’re riding in.
  4. Wet pavement doubles your stopping distance, traction is greatly reduced and maneuverability is lessened.
  5. Windshields help in wet weather, but they accumulate water and distort light.
  6. Eye-wear should fit snugly and be free of scratches and/or blemishes. (Trust me, the first time you are caught in a rainstorm and you’re struggling to see the road thru scratched lenses… oncoming traffic headlights will INSTANTLY make you wish you had listened to me.)
  7. Finally – never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly.

Your visual lead is your safety net. The farther ahead you can see – the more time you have to react to it. Remember, it’s what you don’t see that can hurt you.

A rain suit does more than keep you dry. It keeps you warm and visible. Brightly colored garments with reflective stripes and/or markings increase your visibility and your safety.

Note: If you have the convenience of saddlebags, pack your rain gear in the right side saddlebag. In the event the road captain decides to pull over, this will give you safe access to your rain gear without being in the line of traffic.

Painted lines on crosswalks can be unsafe for motorcyclists, particularly if you’re turning right or left and crossing the lines at an angle. The smooth surface of the paint is much slicker than the asphalt. Slow down more than usual and make the turn straight up, rather than in a lean.

Oil is everywhere and it’s very elusive. Those little red and blue rainbows on the pavement mean danger. Ride slow and straight up. If you’re caught in the first rain following a few dry days remember the roads are covered with lots of oil and dirt. In the first thirty to sixty minutes of a rain, the oil and dirt will be lifted from the surface contributing to a hazardous condition. After sufficient rain has washed the oil and dirt clear of the road surface, traction will improve. (But the pavement is still wet, so don’t get cocky.)

Ways To Be Safe

Here are 10 simple ideas that you may want to try to become a safer rider:

  1. Assume Drivers Can’t See You: Ride assuming that you and your motorcycle are totally invisible to motorists. That means you must never assume that drivers can see you. The odds are, they can’t so believe it yourself and always have an “out” for dangerous traffic situations.
  2. Maintain Safe Spacing: Leave plenty of space in front and back and to the sides from all other vehicles. Be an island. Stay away from traffic as much as possible. This gives you more visibility and more time to react to situations.
  3. Anticipate Trouble: Anticipate trouble situations and know what to do when you see them. Analyze what vehicles are doing and try to predict the outcome. Then make sure you’re ready to avoid a bad traffic situation.
  4. Beware of Oncoming Left Turners: Beware of oncoming motorists turning left in front of you at intersections. This is the leading cause of death of motorcycle riders. I’m deadly serious here. I have personally lost many friends to this accident. If you only remember one tip here, let it be this one. Slow down before you enter an intersection. Have an escape route planned. Stay visible. Don’t travel too close to cars in front of you. Position your bike so the left turner can see it. Eye contact is not enough.
  5. Ride Your Own Ride: Don’t try to keep up with your friends who may be more experienced. Know your personal limits. Ride your own ride.
  6. Watch Out for Curves: Beware of taking curves that you can’t see around. A parked truck or a patch of sand may be awaiting you.
  7. Don’t Give In to Road Rage: Do not give in to road rage and try to “get even” with another rider or motorist. If you follow these tips, most likely you won’t fall victim to road rage. It’s better to calm down, slow down, and collect your thoughts first. Then continue on and enjoy the ride. That’s what we’re all out there for in the first place.
  8. Don’t allow Tailgating: If someone is tailgating you, either speed up to open more space or pull over and let them pass. Life is too short. Remember that a bike can stop faster than a car so you don’t want a truck on your tail when you find yourself trying to brake to avoid an accident. Also, don’t tailgate the vehicle in front of you. Oncoming drivers can’t see you.
  9. Don’t Be Blinded by Sun-glare: Beware of riding your motorcycle into sun glare. All it takes is turning a corner and finding the sun either directly in your face or passing straight through your windshield. Some helmets have shields to block the sun. Face shields help somewhat. But sometimes you just find yourself blinded by the light. Slow down, pull over, shield your eyes and look for a way to change direction.
  10. Avoid Riding at Night: Avoid riding at night, especially late Saturday night and early Sunday when drunken drivers may be on the road. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t drink and ride. Going bar hopping? Leave the bike at home and find a designated driver.

Hand Signals

Hand signals will be added soon