I’ll be the first to admit that after you’ve been riding for awhile, safety platitudes slide off your eardrums like rain water. “Gear up; don’t speed; don’t drink and ride” – all 101% valid, but nobody wants to hear us say it for the 99999th time. Instead, here are some common motorcycling mistakes that aren’t often talked about, but you really should be aware of. Spoken and illustrated from painful personal experience!
1) Forgetting eye protection.
Leaving your visor up is more comfortable in the city heat, but it also offers a one-way ticket into your eyeballs for bug & dirt missiles. All it takes is one tiny, high-speed debris to cause temporary blindness and complete loss of control. If yours is a visor-free dirtbike helmet, don’t forget the goggles!
2) Not avoiding road markings in the rain.
Those slippery white bastards. No, not talking about elusive parking wardens who issue summons and disappear, but the paint markings on tarmac that were clearly not designed by motorcyclists. The worst ones are those smack in the middle of a bend – if you hit them while attempting a knee-down (don’t, by the way), they are almost guaranteed to send your rear wheel ahead of your front.
3) Not preparing your pillion.
Pillions can wreak havoc in so many ways. Putting their legs down when you stop, headbutting, boob-butting, fighting the lean, grabbing your ticklish side in a panic, gripping the wrong body parts, making sudden, jerky movements…
Life is not a James Bond movie. People don’t naturally motorcycle, largely because much of motorcycling is counter to survival instincts. Before you let your bro or gal hop on, give them a quick primer, even if they say they’re confident. Don’t save on saliva, save yourselves some pain!
4) Lane-splitting the wrong way.
While not technically illegal in Singapore, lane-splitting is still a risky way to win the rush hour traffic. In the best scenario, it’s a perk of two-wheeled commute; you can keep moving between crawling larger vehicles, getting to the office sooner, and without cooking in engine heat.
What’s more dangerous – and common – is riding fast on the (slippery) white line, sandwiched between fast-moving cars and trucks, while in their blindspots, and hot on the tail of the biker in front. All it’ll take is one erratic move from a vehicle on either side, or one mistake from another rider in the domino train, and then you’re literally minced meat marinated in road-rash. Risk multiplication means losing reaction time.
5) Not checking your mirrors obsessively.
I do it every 5 to 10 seconds; both mirrors. If I lapse, it means my mind is wandering in the saddle, and then I probably have bigger problems.
It’s a habit built on bloody lessons. Once, a car rear-swiped me on the Malaysian highway when it cut three lanes trying to pull off a last minute exit. The shocking moment when my rear wheel was knocked clean out from under my ass at 120kmh lives on forever as tarmac fragments in my backside. In another episode, a taxi almost mowed me down from behind when it decided to beat a red light after I’d already stopped in front.
Check your mirrors. The assholes are attacking from behind.
I’ll subject you now to a favourite true cliche: everything on the road is out to kill you. If you aren’t going to stop them, at least don’t help them get the job done. Ride on!
Cherie went to school with overachievers. She grew up to fully embrace her wicked, underachieving ways and made art, rode motorcycles, wore dinosaur costumes to inappropriate places, and was generally awesome. She has recently discovered that the optimal number of underpants to pack for world domination on your motorcycle is 2.5.