“Help! My daughter’s dating a motorcyclist!” At least, that’s what my mom said when I brought home my first high-school boyfriend, who happened to own a sweet Harley-Davidson Fat Boy. As a parent, allowing your daughter or son to start dating can be a nerve-wracking experience and when you add the open road to that equation – well, I can only imagine what was going through my mom’s head.
Of course, she never let me ride his motorcycle, which might be the reason I have my own motorcycle today. But if I ever had a daughter, I would have to strongly consider letting her ride on her boyfriend’s motorcycle. I know a lot about motorcycle safety, but does he? I would ask him the following questions before letting her out on the open road:
Riding with a passenger requires significantly more skill than riding solo. Not only is the bike heavier, but the weight is also distributed differently. This means that the bike won’t steer as nimbly or brake as quickly over a short distance. A new motorcycle rider will not yet have the experience to understand these dynamics. Ideally, the motorcycle rider will have at least six months to one year of experience as a solo rider.
Even if he grew up riding dirt bikes, he should also have completed a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) training course and have a motorcycle endorsement on his license. The vast majority of motorcycle accidents involve riders that don’t have a motorcycle endorsement on their license. If he doesn’t have one, that’s a huge red flag.
The answer to this simple question says a lot about the driver’s commitment level. If he’s serious about riding, he will also be responsible enough to have motorcycle insurance. If he’s 21 or older, be sure to ask if he ever drinks and rides. Riding a motorcycle requires complete alertness and at all times. Motorcycles and alcohol—even if it’s just one beer —never mix.
In addition to always wearing a helmet, both the rider and passenger will want to invest in a gloves and a motorcycle jacket. Motorcycle jackets are designed to protect the rider in the event of a fall. Closed-toe boots are also a must. Never wear shoes with loose laces that could cause a crash by becoming caught in the rear wheel. I would insist that my future daughter wear the special riding gear that she would need to be safe on his bike, including a helmet specifically sized for her head. Never get on a bike without a helmet that fits your head. Helmets that are too large can easily fall off or shift position during an accident, which means they won’t protect your head.
Sure, I don’t have a daughter now, but asking these questions of any potential motorcyclist before hopping on the back of his or her Harley will ensure that you’re making the safest decision either for you, or your kids.