1. Your Brain

102314-top-10-save-butt-01 Brain

No regular MO reader should be surprised by this. Never ride without your brain. Brainless riders are vastly overrepresented in motorcycle accident studies, with the majority of single-vehicle accidents coming as the result of brainless motorcycle operation. Using your brain will immeasurably increase your riding enjoyment – and your longevity. Although they are no guaranty of brain use, abiding by the previous nine suggestions is usually associated with brain activity.

Because we live in litigious times, here is our barrister-required disclaimer: “No brain can protect you from every possible hazardous circumstance. However, when used properly, your brain can save your butt. Never alter your brain with alcohol or harsh chemicals prior to riding, as these will prevent it from operating to its full potential.

“Always use your brain – especially when riding a motorcycle.”

  • There is that surreal moment when you spot an object (a wasp, a bumblebee, a dragonfly, a hailstone, an acorn — I’ve had all of these) that is about to hit you in the face. Time slows down and you are able to see the object in perfect detail, but in truth there is not even enough time to turn your head. When said object thereafter instantly explodes or clunks against my face shield I always find myself amazed and baffled that there are people who insist upon riding without a full face helmet.

    • Steven Holmes

      I’ll never ride with anything less than a full face. not 5 minutes after I got on the highway for the first time, I had to have hit the biggest bumblebee in the PNW. We’re talking the Andre the Giant of bumblebees. I felt the impact in my whole helmet. if that were my face….*shudders.*

      Then there are the rocks… endless showers of pebbles, and gnats that sound like taking fire in airsoft, and the MOTHS. tinkytinkytnkySPLAT. Respect for you riders in the deep south. m/(-_-)m/

    • Jeff LaLone

      When I was much younger, I crashed an ATV. I was riding it alongside a road up in the sticks. The crash sent me flying over the bars and heading face-first toward a drainage culvert. There was a 3/4″ x 2″ section of my helmet’s chin guard that got sheared away by the impact. Had I been wearing an open face helmet (or nothing at all), I’d probably be getting all my nutrition through a straw.

    • dingo

      Amen to that. Yesterday morning on my way into work I hopped onto a nice open stretch and SPLAT. Some sort of six legged monster right into the visor. I took my helmet off at the office and he was still moving – despite the fact that the last thing he saw must have been his behind.

      Between that, gnats that I never see and the rock that left a gash across the left side I’ll never wear anything but a full face.

    • john phyyt

      Slowed down passing a small town and fliped visor up to get a bit of cool air; then whilst accelerating I allowed the air to shut it: Problem was an angry wasp joined me in my still air cocoon: HIGHLY ALLERGIC: Adrenalin: Opened visor with right had first then without checking behind me grabbed brakes: The thing just flew away. And I pulled over ; breathed a few breaths and thanked providence that things didn’t work out badly. I believe that, like gloves, any helmet is better than none.

  • Chris_in_Kalifornia

    I discovered gloves the hard way, a long time ago. Tore the skin off the palms of my hands in a low speed crash, <30 MPH. After they healed and I could ride again, I NEVER rode without some kind of gloves. Any are better than not having them but the better your gloves are the better your hands will endure.

    Open bottom face shields are also a buggaboo. I was riding south from Tucson at about 70 MPH when a bee hit my index finger, bounced up and hit the bottom of my face shield and then flew up under it and under the lens of my glasses. I got my eye closed about the time it hit the bottom of the face shield but I could feel it buzzing feebly between my eyelid and glasses lens as I pulled to the side of the freeway. I was saying "please don't sting my eye" over and over as I pulled off the side. That wasn't to much fun either with my dominant eye shut. Fortunately the stinger was on the bottom of the face shield. I bought my first full coverage helmet as soon as I got back to town.

    There wasn't much in the way of safety reflective gear in my early days so for winter inclement riding I bought a set of bibs and a parka both in Hunter Orange. It was amazingly warm and sturdy too. I still have it although it is sun faded with age, still wearable and still warm as all git out. I really needed electric gloves though. Riding to work in < 20 degrees still froze my hands.

    I NEVER rode without a helmet and mine have saved my head a couple of times but I'm also into personal freedom. If someone is stupid enough to ride without one I say let them. But tough poo poo if you crash. Don't expect me to pay for your upkeep if you survive and don't expect insurance to cover it either. Let them remove themselves from the Gene Pool.

    • dougphoto

      helmet laws are bad for the gene pool

  • Let us not forget: Not swimming with man-eating sharks while bleeding.

  • nicko

    predator HELMET!!!!

  • Backroad Bob

    Don’t Bluetooth and look out for drivers using their cell phones while driving. #1 Killer of motorcyclists? Distracted driving. Don’t you do it too.

  • Jenna Cho

    This is really great information. That you motorcycle people magazine for posting about such safety stuff, as we will most surely benefit from the info presented here.

  • cathries