I’ll start by expressing my insane jealousy of everyone that has had their motorcycle out already. For the last 20 years or so, I have always used St. Patrick’s Day as my ‘over-under’ day. If I have the bike out before St. Pats I’m happy, if it’s after, not so much so.

This year, very unhappy.

Not only have I not had my bike out yet, but the amount of snow in front of my garage also says it’s still going to be a while!

Here is a look at some general safety items for new riders.

For new riders this time of year, be especially weary of sand. The city and state will be sweeping up all the sand over the next couple of months, but it will take some time. While that sand is still down, it is a real hazard on a bike. I have a couple of friends who have laid a bike down because of sand, all were relatively low-speed, turning at an intersection, and the front wheel just lost contact.

Montana is just one of four states that do not have a helmet law in place for adults (Riders 17 and under must always wear a helmet). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that from 2002 to 2017, more than 25,000 lives have been saved by wearing motorcycle helmets.

MotoGp of Czech Republic - Qualifying
Helmets save lives_ (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)

Never drink and ride. Booze and bikes don’t mix, period. Riding a motorcycle takes a high level of awareness and quick judgment. Consuming alcohol impairs judgment and delays your responses.  Never drink and ride.

A big one for Montana is always check the forecast. It’s one thing to get caught in a storm while driving a car, but a completely different story when on two wheels. Bad weather can compromise your safety while riding.

The other factor you must weigh in bad weather is other drivers. While riding a motorcycle you always have to be aware of your surroundings, how others are driving, where they are, and if they can see you or not. In bad weather that awareness must be magnified because of the conditions and visibility. Your visibility is important but also making sure that other drivers know you are there.

Powerful Hurricane Irma Slams Into Florida
Riding in the Rain (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Before you get going full speed this season make sure to either service your bike yourself or bring it to a shop that can give it a good once over.

And if you are just getting started on a motorcycle in Montana, to receive your motorcycle endorsement you must be 16 years of age, have a valid driver’s license, and pass the state’s written and skills test. You can find out more about that process HERE.

And for new riders, if a rider waves at you as you pass, Dammit wave back!

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