Getting the feeling right
Many motorcyclists are raring to go, eager to get on the road again after a long winter break. As the season starts, however, the accident rate rises sharply. “During spring, the number of motorcycling accidents increases rapidly and reaches a peak during the summer months,” explains Luigi Ancona, an accident researcher and motorcycle expert at DEKRA. “It isn’t that you forget how to ride a motorbike over the winter, but it is like skiing downhill again for the first time. You need to get back into the groove and refresh your feel for the bike. How hard does it accelerate and decelerate? How much distance do I need? How do I push or lean the bike into a bend?” That's why you shouldn't give in to euphoria on your first trip out. “Take it easy,” advises the expert.
According to Luigi Ancona, the best plan is to find somewhere safe to warm up and refresh the basics: swerving, emergency braking, riding zigzags and circles – all elements of the practical driving test. “The best way to refresh all of these driving maneuvers at the start of the season is by doing rider safety training.” Those returning from a longer break, due to their career or family situation, for example, and even due to the pandemic, will especially benefit from rider safety training.
“You can't just pick up where you left off years or even decades ago,” the motorcycle expert stresses. “The longer it has been since you last rode, the more important it is to systematically refresh your riding techniques and your feel for the bike.” A little self-reflection would not go amiss. Has your physical condition changed? How are your fitness and responsiveness? Handling the bike is often harder than it was in younger years. Some people may even ask themselves whether their dodgy back can cope with the bike they had in their youth, or whether they would get more pleasure out of a comfortable cruiser.
Anyone who wants to buy a new motorbike needs to be aware of ABS, which has been mandatory for new models since January 1, 2016, and has significantly improved safety. Last but not least, the motorcycle also needs a technical check at the start of the season. It is essential to check the brakes, tires and fluid levels – and the safety-relevant electronics using on-board diagnostics. Suit, protectors, boots, gloves, and helmet visor should all be checked as well.