ADVENTURE ON TWO WHEELS: ATGATT, choosing the perfect bike... our beginners guide to motorcycling will soon see you join thousands of two-wheeled riders on SA's roads. Image: Shutterstock
There’s something appealing about motorbikes: they have attitude, they offer freedom and can beat the traffic.
If you’re fed up with rising fuel costs and constant traffic jams, says Imperial Auto's Lebo Mavuso, then perhaps turning to two wheels is an option.
Mavuso said: "We believe there are great joys to be had from owning a motorcycle but there are also great pieces of advice that first-time bike-owners should consider to help them get the most out of their first motorcycling experience."
TOP RIDING TIPS
From wearing proper gear to choosing the perfect bike, follow these top five tips before switching from four to two wheels.
This acronym means 'All The Gear, All The Time' which is what every motorcyclist should be wearing whenever they ride SA's roads. Whether it’s on the open road or quick trip to visit a friend, always wear protective gear.
Protective gear includes helmet, decent leather jacket with shoulder, elbow and back protection, and riding pants equipped with hip and knee protection. Your boots should extend beyond the ankle providing full protection.
Wearing protective gear can make the difference between moderate scrapes and bruises and becoming another road-death statistic.
2 GO BACK TO SCHOOL
If you've been driving a car for years (or not at all, if a motorbike is your first vehicle) and you’re wondering how hard it is to ride a motorcycle thinking, "It’s just a bicycle with an engine, isn’t it?" - think again.
Different physics come into play when you’re riding a bike and even more skills are needed if you’re going to be riding off-road. Join a local motorcycling club and ask for advice on who to speak to for lessons to improve your riding skills.
3 DON'T PUNCH (OR RIDE) ABOVE YOUR WIEGHT
If you’re buying a motorcycle for the first time aim for one with an engine capacity of less than 500cc. It’s important to build your confidence on a less intimidating bike. Focus on honing your skills in traffic and in varying weather. It's important to learn basic maintenance and repairs.
Even if you outgrow it, there will always be new riders queuing to take it off your hands.
4 PICK YOUR STYLE
Cruiser, Sport, Tourer, Scooter... there are many types of motorcycle available so research different styles before you choose.
Following rule No.3, make sure you take various types for a test ride - if you're not licensed yet, ask the dealer to meet you somewhere where it is possible to ride the bike off the public roads - to familiarise yourself with the seating position, power, handling and overall performance.
5 THINK DIFFERENT. THINK BIKE
If you’re used to driving a car, remember that there’s a lot more to motorcycling than learning to ride a bike. A motorcycle has less contact with the road than a car so it is more vulnerable in wet or sandy conditions.
Bumps and potholes that would otherwise be a minor inconvenience on four wheels are likely to be significant on two. Strong wind are also a challenge – if you’re out in windy conditions, move to the side of the lane from which the wind is blowing to avoid being pushed into parallel traffic by a gust.
For more information about motorcycles, visit Imperial Auto.