Step 1 - ‘Dress for the slide not the ride’
We all want to return home with our scooter and ourselves in one piece. By wearing the correct clothing and equipment you can minimise the inherent risks faced on the open road. Start with an ADR or Euro 4 approved helmet, this piece of kit is probably the most important when the ‘wheels come off’. All approved helmets have gone through multiple impact testing and hypothetical collision scenarios to ensure they hold up and keep your noggin safe during a collision or a stack (bright coloured helmets have been proven to increase visibility for riders). Although the appeal and freedom of an open face helmet is tempting especially for those riding along the desirable coastlines of our major cities. The safest choice is a firm fitting and comfortable full face helmet with visor, even in low speed impacts, a full face helmet will save your face from scratches, cuts and potential breaks.
The rest of your outfit must include gloves, leather, Kevlar and armoured knuckles are preferable and will minimise the chance of ‘road rash’ grazing along with the potential of cuts and abrasions during an incident.
Shoes... the thought of cruising to the beach in ‘closed toe’ shoes for a quick dip or surf sounds ridiculous, but with combine congested roads, aggressive, impatient drivers and slippery surfaces, thongs will not offer any protection! We are not saying your need full leather boots but a solid closed toe pair of sneakers is a bare minimum, the same goes for those lady riders, even when you’re heading out to a dinner or a work meeting, whack those high heels in your backpack for when you arrive. Stability is key when stopped in traffic especially on hills or uneven surfaces, flat soled, close toed shoes are your best and safest bet.
Jackets also play and important role not only for weather but impacts or slides... feet, hands, elbows and heads are the most common contact points. So if you can find a suitable leather or all weather Kevlar jacket to cover up with it is advisable.
Step 2 - ‘Visibility and maintenance’
Now that we have the rider covered, now it’s down to riding styles and habits to practice to decrease the potential of any miss-haps while scooting around town. Before hitting the road ensure your scooter’s tyres are up to pressure (check the tyre side wall for accurate pressure or OEM suggested pressure).
Too many times we see riders with low tyre pressure, not only does this decrease fuel efficiency and reduce tyre life, it also effects handling, cornering and braking capabilities of your scooter, which are a crucial part of being able to react and respond in case of emergencies.
Check your tyre pressure every 2nd or 3rd fuel tank if you notice they are losing air, top them up at your local petrol station. If you notice they are very low constantly book an appointment at your local scooter mechanic to check and repair a potential leak or puncture... From our experience punctures seem to happen to new tyres more than worn tyres, which leads us to saying “keep an eye on the road surface for any debris”.
Your visibility is more important than you think... ensure your headlights, indicators and brake lights are all functioning as normal.
Sometimes it’s the sparkle of a headlight that allows distracted motorist to notice you at the last minute, make sure your headlights are clean, visible and in working order. General maintenance and regular services of scooter will not only add to your scooter’s longevity but will increase riding pleasure, safety and reliability.
Step 3 - ‘Own the road’
One thing we know, is that most accidents are avoidable. This part comes down to you, the rider. Following road rules is crucial as you don’t have the luxury of a secure steel and air bags filled bubble to protect you like other motorists. When heading out, look out!
Always abide by the road rules, speed limits and restrictions to your license.
Your confidence, ability to read road conditions and other drivers actions is key; it will only improve the more you practice. Ensure your confidence levels are high when riding, be alert and be aware. Look ahead and calculate what the traffic flow is doing 3 cars ahead and be aware of close following cars behind. Staying upright mostly comes down to your skill at reading and predicting traffic conditions, every intersection is a potential hazard. Being alert and focused when riding is part of the thrill of being on two wheels, it gives the rider the feeling of being connected in a disconnected world.
Always cover blind spots and avoid riding in those of other vehicles, keep space between you and the car ahead, they have better braking and shorter stopping distances in an emergency.
Do not lane split at speed (learner riders do not lane filter at all, it’s against your license parameters ) and only overtake on the outside lane.