5 tips to stay safe on your motorcycle

South Dakota is known for its great motorcycle riding, especially throughout the Black Hills. Whether you are joining thousands of rider at Sturgis or taking a solo trip through the mountains, however, you want to make it back home safely. When the highways become crowded, you may want to follow a few safety tips from experienced riders:

Give yourself a break

Riding long distances can wear on you both physically and mentally. Make sure to take plenty of breaks to stretch or relax. Give your eyes a break. When you start to feel tired, it’s time to stop.

Wear the right gear

Anyone who has been in a motorcycle accident can attest to just how vulnerable you are when you hit the pavement. The right gear can make all the difference. Long pants, leather, boots, helmets and gloves can both help you ride better and protect you in a crash. Bright colors can also help you stay more visible to those around you.

Give yourself space

Unfortunately, you can’t trust the vehicles around you to see you and pay attention to you. Give yourself a 20-foot cushion at the minimum. That gives you time to react, even if other vehicles don’t. Be extra cautious around semi-trucks. Not only do they have more limited visibility, they also cause wind turbulence and block your own view. Never ride next to a semi. If you plan to pass, do so quickly and only when you know it is safe.

Be aware of your surroundings

One of the joys of riding is exploring new places, but winding mountain roads can have hidden dangers. Take all turns and curves carefully, especially if you can’t see what is up ahead of you. Feather your clutch on a tight turn or if your group is taking the turn slowly. Straighten out your curves by starting on the outside, moving to the inside of the curve, then ending back on the outside. Look ahead of you for potholes and road debris. Focus on where you want to go. We tend to ride following our eyes, so if you are staring at a certain spot, you are likely to drive into it. Keep your eyes on the road.

Stay sober if you plan to ride

This one seems obvious, but too many motorcycle accidents are still caused by riders who are intoxicated. There are plenty of places and opportunities to party in the Black Hills. Just make sure you plan ahead to have a safe ride back afterward so you can enjoy yourself.

Accidents can happen no matter how many precautions you take. But following these tips can improve your chances of making it home safe and injury-free.