Whether you are a new rider or you have been riding for many years, you may have heard – or may even believe – some of the much-circulated motorcycle safety myths. If you take actions based on those myths, some of them could get you injured or even killed.
If you know a biker who believes any of these myths, be sure to direct them to this article!
Myth 1: Bikers Wear Leather Because it Makes Them Look Cool
While leather does look cool, that's just a bonus. Leather, because of its unique properties, is very protective against abrasions, cuts, and scrapes. It's also very warm, even with the wind chill caused by riding on a cool day. Biker leathers are usually made from cowhide because it provides more protection than buffalo hide or pigskin. We know a rider who front wheel slid on some new, wet street tar, and he slid right underneath the pickup truck that had stopped in front of him. While he had trouble traveling "no problem," to the cop who showed up, and his shoulder was sore for weeks afterwards, absolutely all he had to show for his spill was a black abraded area on the right shoulder of his brown leather jacket. Obviously wearing leather is no excuse for recklessness, but it can certainly help minimize bodily surface damage.
Myth 2: Drivers in Cages Do not Give a Hoot About Bikers
It's not that they do not care – it's that they do not see you. They're not looking for someone on a motorcycle. You can help these drivers see you by wearing motorcycle safety equipment, such as a bright helmet and brightly colored clothing. Motorcycle helmets do save lives, that is a fact. You can hear and see quite well with even a full-faced helmet. Also, have the proper safety equipment on your bike, including brighter-than-stock lights or extra lights.
Myth 3: The Louder the Pipes, the Safer You Are
If you've ever ridden in a group, you know you can barely hear the bike behind you. And the bikes on the side of you are not that loud either, unless they are right next to you. So no, loud pipes are not going to make people driving cars aware of you, especially if they have their noses buried in their cell phones, are eating, putting on makeup, reading, or are otherwise distracted.
Myth 4: Lay the Bike Down if You Are Going to Crash
This is the worst thing you can do. When you slide, you have a good chance of getting burned beyond belief by the exhaust or you could slide under a vehicle. Instead, learn how to brake effectively. The one time that it might be better to lay the bike down is if you are on an elevated roadway, such as a bridge, and the only alternative is to fall over the guardrail to your death.
Myth 5: Surface Streets are Safer than Highways
Many people believe surface streets are safer than highways because of the slower speeds. However, they are actually more dangerous since you have traffic coming at you from all sides, and often unexpectedly, since it is so difficult for drivers to "see" motorcycles. You have people pulling out of side roads, parking lots, and driveways. It's bad enough when someone turns right on red and cuts off a car because they're in a big hurry, but when that person does it to a motorcycle, there is more damage than just a busted fender. Highways are safer since you are all going in the same direction – unless you have some drunk guy driving in the wrong direction.
Do not Believe Motorcycle Safety Myths!
You may have heard many more motorcycle safety myths. Do not believe them. If you hear something that sounds suspicious, do some research just to see how true it is. Having the proper safety equipment will save your life more so than doing something crazy like dumping your bike on purpose.