New rider? Here's what to do when you break down.
It happens to the best of us and can be a pretty big buzz kill. You go from enjoying a leisurely, smooth ride, when all of the sudden, there's some clanking and thumping that can't amount to anything good. Your calm ride is now one that is full of anxiety.
Believe me, I've been there when something feels wrong and the panic sets in. I've had to try to clear my head so I can determine the right thing to do, but all I can do is hold on tight. When your motorcycle breaks down, it’s equal parts wondering if you'll be able to save your own skin, regretting not performing that summer motorcycle maintenance you were supposed to, and terror about how much of an arm and a leg it would cost to fix it. While it’s understandable to worry about the potential financial ramifications of your bike breaking down, your priority should always be your safety.
Here’s what to do when your motorcycle breaks down when out on the road:
When you’re stranded in the middle of the road, it’s much too high of a risk that a distracted driver can hit you at 65 MPH. And if that’s the case, I don't think that will be an accident you’ll be able to walk away from with just a few scratches and bruises. So if you do feel the bike giving up beneath you and struggling, do everything in your power to make it to the far right of the road or the shoulder. Get a hold of the clutch so that you can keep your bike going and signal as much as you can to the drivers around you that you’re trying to move over. If they see that you’re struggling, they’ll want to stay far behind you or move over to the lanes away from you. That way you’re safe from oncoming traffic, and it will be easier to get help. Once you’re there, you can take a look at your bike and assess the potential problem.
Some interstates and highways won’t have exits on the left side, but for those that do, it will just act as an additional outlet to safety. If you're in the far left lane and can’t get over to the right, if there’s grassy room or a strip of pavement on that side where you can seek safety, use it. If the road you’re on does have an exit on the left slide, slowly take it until you can pull into a store or gas station parking lot.
Yeah, I get it, cagers (strangely more commonly in luxury cars, go figure) are notorious for not using their turn signals or hazards, don’t be like them. Especially in this kind of situation, you want to give the people around you every possible warning as to what’s going on so that they get more time to adjust their driving.
If you’d prefer not to touch it and wait for help, your first goal should be to call a friend that has a truck that you can easily load. You can save money that way (depending on if you do or don’t have AAA) and sometimes, you know, it’s nice to just have a familiar face come to the rescue after your heart almost exploded from your chest. Depending on how scary of an experience it was, it might be best to call a friend or family member. Motorcycle accidents of any kind, especially when your bike breaks down in the middle of the road, is nothing to joke about.
While your motorcycle jacket might be heavy enough to keep you warm, some cities and states experience insane dips in temperature once night comes, and it never hurts to have an extra jacket or sweater on hand. Also, just in case your cell phone dies, do yourself a favor and just memorize a few friends numbers. That way, if you can make it to a phone, you don’t have to rely on your phone’s contact list to reach out to some family or friends.
Proper bike maintenance should usually help to prevent something like this from happening, but you never know. And for those times, it’s best to be prepared with some kind of game plan in mind.
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