'''Disclaimer''': ''This page has been provided for informational purposes only. The authors of TV Tropes can take no responsibility for any accidents that may result should you neglect proper training on the assumption that reading this was sufficient, nor is this page written by a qualified motorcycle safety instructor or rider.''
So you just got (or you saw a media depiction of and want to ride) a CoolBike? Unfortunately, the media often won't show the downsides and risks of it, or the proper and safer ways to ride a two-wheeled motorcycle, dirt bike, moped, or similar.
!The Short Version
The below gets into details, but these are the primary rules of motorcycle safety:
# There is no substitute for proper driver training. There is no such thing as a UniversalDriversLicense, and riding a motorcycle or two-wheeled motorized vehicle is FAR different than riding a non-motorized bicycle or driving a car. Learning how to safely control the vehicle in a variety of conditions will reduce the risk of a crash and reduce the risk of a crash being fatal.
# Unless you are a trained stunt rider on a closed course, watch your speed and do not try stunts. Showing off on a motorcycle in traffic can kill you or other people, and once you are above 65 miles per hour, the likelihood of crash fatality increases exponentially from both lack of reaction time and the speed at which you crash.
# ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET. Whether you are the rider who's driving or a passenger. Wearing a helmet will protect you from [[YourHeadAsplode head injuries]] [[ChunkySalsaRule in the event of a crash]].
# Of secondary importance (but almost equal), wear proper protective clothing. Proper protective clothing means real leather or Kevlar (or at the ''very'' least, very thick denim or similar). It may be hot and uncomfortable but it will help protect you from road rash (deep cuts and scrapes that can become easily infected) and from broken bones and internal injuries in low to moderate speed crashes.
# It is not IF you will crash on a two-wheeled motorcycle, it is WHEN you will crash. The point of driver training and body protection is so you can prevent some crashes and so you can survive those that are inevitable.
# DO NOT ride in bad weather conditions, when you are drunk or tired or otherwise compromised, or in areas where you are unsure of the terrain. Motorcycles (and scooters, mopeds, dirt bikes, and the like) are far less forgiving of conditions and driver error than all other vehicles, and bad weather, compromised drivers, and bad terrain are some of the top causes of crashes.
# As a passenger, do NOT ride on a motorcycle with anyone with whom you are not willing to trust your life. Passengers get worse injuries in crashes more often than drivers (since they are often thrown from the bike first, since they are often less secured, and since they are often spur of the moment riders without proper gear). As a side note to this - if who you are riding with will not at least give you a helmet and tell you how to ride safely, ''do not'' get on the bike.
!Before you start...
!! 1) Motorcycles (and mopeds, and scooters, and other two-wheeled motorized vehicles) are not toys, and there are specific things you must do differently than you would on a non-motorized bike or a car.
* All two-wheeled motorized vehicles are slightly different. Knowing how to ride a Vespa, for example, does not mean you can ride a Harley flawlessly. Know your vehicle and be sure you have had the proper training and the chance to ride it on a closed course or an empty lot or similar - make sure you know how to control it before you take it out into traffic. If it is your first time, make sure you are instructed by an experienced rider at the very least if not a professional instructor.
** For a first bike, go small rather than large as far as engine size. It's that much less weight to have to pick up after a drop (and you WILL drop it), and even slower bikes like cruisers, while not having the crazy speed of a sportbike, have enough low end torque to make for a very scary moment if you punch the throttle too hard.
* Two-wheeled motorized vehicles are very vulnerable to road conditions and road debris due to having less balance than a car or truck. Than ANY car or truck. This means that bottle you run over and think nothing about (unless it gives you a flat tire) in even a VW Bug or a Smart will throw your bike and cause you to crash. This means hitting that puddle at 75 miles per hour will cause you to hydroplane and lose control. You must learn how to evade road debris, and you should never ride unsafely for conditions/in bad weather. Spending $100 for a crappy hotel room until the rain clears out, for example, is far less than the near-million in hospital bills and life-altering injuries a wreck will give you.
* BUY A NEW AND PROPERLY CERTIFIED HELMET and WEAR IT ANY TIME YOU RIDE. Old or inadequate helmets (especially those that have been in a crash before) will not protect your head in the event of a crash. If you ever plan to let anyone else ride with you, buy a second helmet that a passenger can wear. Wearing helmets is the law in many places, and even if it's not the law, it will prevent the most fatal injuries a crash can deliver (head injuries). So wear one. Make sure any passenger you have wears one. No exceptions. Needless to say, if you crash, buy a new helmet before you ride again.
* BUY PROPER CLOTHING and wear it any time you ride. Ideally, you want as much barrier between fragile skin and bone and the road as you can provide. This means Kevlar or real leather (or at the very least thick denim, or ideally a combination of thick denim and leather or Kevlar in at least one layer of your clothing (which should be long-sleeved shirt/jacket and long pants), and possibly a reinforced jock cup if you have external genitals. Leave the shorts, dresses, and anything else that exposes skin or can get caught up in the bike or its parts at home. Also, you should store weapons (especially guns, which can go off, or knives, which can stab you) or anything that could stab you - including pens or needles - at home or in a secured side bag.
** Secondarily, ZIPPERED POCKETS or a secure side bag. You want to have your wallet and phone, for example, where they cannot fly out of your pockets. The panic you feel at a lost wallet or phone might well make you not think for a moment and stop or crash - prevent this by either storing your belongings in a secure side bag or in zippered pockets. The same goes for passengers, and possibly more so - having a passenger lose something and freak out over it could also lead to an accident.
* You should never ride when you are compromised. This means tired, drunk, high, angry, or anything else that will distract you from the road. As a motorcycle rider, you need to be aware of your surroundings and the conditions and capable to respond to them quickly enough to avoid a crash (or lessen the severity by slowing down and crashing into shrubbery rather than another moving vehicle, for example).
** This also covers being physically compromised. For example, if your right hand is unusable (even if sporadically so as with carpal tunnel or nerve damage) this can affect braking and put you and others in danger.
* Do not ride in unfamiliar terrain if you can possibly help it. If you are unsure about the place you are going, travel there first in a car or truck or by public transit, especially if you plan to ride a less stable vehicle such as a moped. Make a note of everything from potential sources of road debris to curves to anything that could be a surprise. Planning your rides and your route allows you to react more intelligently. If you absolutely must ride in unfamiliar terrain, make sure to compensate by not speeding and keeping your attention on surroundings.
* If you have a passenger, know motorcycle safety rules and instruct them on such before they get on. At the very least, you should provide them with a helmet, a place to securely store their belongings, and instruction as to the safest way to hold on. Most bikes are only set up for one passenger at most - do NOT allow multiple passengers. Nor should you allow a passenger who is drunk, high, or who is wearing clothes that pose an active danger to safe riding (e.g. a long cape or dress that can get caught on the road or the muffler). Age is another thing: even if you want to share your love for riding with your kids, there is no safe way to have a young child as a motorcycle passenger. Passengers should be old enough to understand how to ride properly and to not need a safety seat. Generally, this means anyone under 13 or 14 as a passenger is a VERY bad idea (and possibly illegal depending on where you are.)
* Know how steering works on a motorcycle. At low (idle) speeds, steering works normally (like a bicycle); you turn the handlebars in the direction you want to turn. At higher speeds, however, the motorcycle will actually "counter-steer"; the bike will lean and turn opposite the direction of the front wheel. By pushing the handlebar of the direction in which you want to turn, you can initiate lean in that direction and turn much more efficiently.
* Know how braking works on a motorcycle. In a hard stop, your rear brake (right foot pedal) becomes increasingly less efficient as weight shifts to the front; make stops with both brakes or just the front brake (right hand lever).
* Never, ever try to stop the bike with your feet if your name isn't Fred Flintstone.
* You will get into a wreck at some point, and it becomes more likely the more/longer you ride. Preparation, skill, and luck are what will determine whether you get up and walk away relatively unhurt, whether you'll get some relatively minor injuries like road rash or a broken leg, whether you'll get severe injuries like a broken pelvis or back or head injuries that will alter your life and permanently disable you, or you and/or your passenger will die.
* Some (not all) three wheeled vehicles are ''slightly'' safer than two-wheeled. While a motorized trike type motorcycle (with a wide wheel arrangement for two back wheels) or an ATV is still highly dangerous (especially for an untrained/unskilled rider), and they can flip if ridden carelessly or dangerously still, they do have somewhat better balance than a two-wheeled motorcycle/moped/dirt bike and are somewhat safer in encounters with debris or bad conditions. Especially if you plan to do most of your riding in unfamiliar territory/less than optimal conditions or you are uncomfortable with the balance of a two-wheeled moto, it may be worth the slight drop in CoolBike factor to settle for a three-wheeler or an ATV. That said, three wheels do NOT invalidate all of this advice so far - in fact, the only gain in safety a three-wheeled motorcycle or ATV provides over a two-wheeled bike is IF you follow all of the above advice.
** For everyday city driving and/or regular commuting, especially in places like UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity or UsefulNotes/LosAngeles where streets are often badly maintained and full of debris hazards, sudden surprises, and [[DrivesLikeCrazy bad drivers]], unless you ''really'' want the CoolBike factor and have very good reaction time, even the smallest or most "economy" car is usually a better/safer idea than any bike.
* Take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (or non-US equivalent) course. Not only is it usually a requirement for a motorcycle endorsement, but they teach the fundamentals of motorcycle riding in a controlled environment, rather than busy city streets.
!! 2) Know your limits.
* Again, avoid stunts or showing off unless you are a trained stunt rider on a closed course. Even then people get hurt and wreck badly.
* Again, do not ride when mentally or physically compromised in any way.
* If you have no experience with motorcycles, do not ride one as the driver, and if you are going to get on as the passenger, make sure the driving rider knows what he or she is doing, is sober, provides you with a helmet and place to store your stuff, and does not push you to ride if you are absolutely not comfortable with the idea.
* If you have experience as a motorcycle rider, be sure you know how to handle a new or different type of bike before you take it into traffic.
* Do not let "it's just a few blocks" or "it's a short trip" make you disregard safety advice.
!!! 3) In the event of a crash:
* If you find yourself losing control of your bike, you must react fast. In some situations, you can ''possibly'' regain control (a turn taken too sharply, a puddle causing you to hydroplane). In others, you cannot. This will be a split-second decision and one you need to prepare for long before it happens.
* If you can't regain control but can possibly reduce speed or hit a non-moving object - do so. Better yet, if you can throw yourself off the bike while doing so, this is vitally important to prevent head and neck injuries if the bike is going to be flipping upside down or crashing head-on rather than skidding onto its side. If it's skidding onto its side, throwing yourself free from it or trying to may injure you worse depending on situation. Again, this is why you cannot be compromised - these are decisions you will need to make in split seconds.
* Try your very best to stay out of oncoming traffic after you land. If you can possibly walk or drag your body after you crash, get out of the way of moving vehicles. Getting run over by another vehicle after you're already wounded is a possibility you must avoid if possible - even if doing so might make, say, a broken leg worse, it's better to be rehabbing that leg for a few years than to get run over by a semi.
* That said, do not move unnecessarily. Once you are out of the way of traffic, yourself, stay still and wait for help. This applies even if you think you are uninjured - the adrenaline rush can obscure injuries, especially internal injuries, and even sometimes incredibly painful broken bones and the like. Do NOT go back into traffic (or risk injuring yourself worse) to haul your bike to safety - it can be towed later.
** The only exception to this is if you are, as far as you know, unhurt and the bike is in the way of traffic enough to cause a secondary accident, ''and'' you are capable of quickly righting and moving it without getting run over or injuring yourself worse. If you do so, it is also a good idea to note where it was before you moved it for when the police arrive.
* Do not leave the scene if there is even property damage (and especially if others were involved) even if you feel fine and your bike is still operable once uprighted. Doing so can get you arrested for hit and run.
* On the same note, even if you feel fine, get yourself checked out. You may have internal injuries, you may have injuries that won't show up until later (some neck and back injuries are like this), and you need to be sure that you are truly unhurt.
* Before you ride again, make sure your bike is in operable condition and any damage to it that could make it less safe is repaired, and buy a new helmet.