motorcycle rules

Unwritten Motorcycle Riding Rules That All or Most Bikers Follow

Unwritten Motorcycle Riding Rules That All or Most Bikers Follow

Most motorcyclists are well aware of all the safety and riding schools primarily because they either have a family member who is a rider and teaches them or they get enrolled in a motorcycle safety course to not only acquire a license successfully but also be able to ride confidently on the road in the post-license phase. Motorcycling offers freedom on the road and provides riders with a sense of camaraderie and community. For this reason, many people adopt motorcycling as a way of life, and with this comes certain unspoken and unwritten rules that you need to educate yourself with and also follow. This is because motorcycling has its own unique culture which you may hear about from fellow bikers but never learn in any motorcycle safety course or riding school. 

Most of these unwritten motorcycle riding rules teach bikers road etiquette, emphasize the need to keep others safe, and also help you ride with a group of bikers which then help you to befriend like-minded people who also have a passion for riding.

In this article, Viking Bags brings you a list of unwritten and often times unspoken riding rules that you should follow as a member of the motorcycle community.

While not exactly a rule, motorcycle culture teaches riders to express their creative side through rare motorcycle customizations. If you too want to customize your bike with stylish but practical pieces, such as motorcycle luggage bags , handlebars , plush seats , stylish sissy bars , fairing , luggage racks , backrests or other aftermarket motorcycle accessories , then be sure to check our range of affordable yet high-quality motorcycle parts that will improve the appearance, comfort, and functionality of your bike manifolds. 

1. Keeping Yourself and Others Safe - A Must Follow Rule

When it comes to safety, motorcyclists need to be even more careful than other vehicle owners because they tend to be invisible to many. Therefore, the best way to ensure that the road is a safe place for you and others is to take responsibility and drive defensively. If you train your mind that you are basically invisible on the road to others, you will be better able to improve your defensive driving skills. Another way of keeping yourself safe on the roads is to equip your motorcycle with crash bars , so if you do get into an accident, motorcycle crash bars will act as a shield, preventing your legs from making direct contact with the ground.

Trucks, cars, and other large vehicles cut motorcyclists off, move into their lanes without warning, and also ‘tailgate’ or ride extremely close to the bumper which is extremely unsafe and may lead to an accident. This unwritten riding rule is designed to teach riders to rely solely upon themselves, but you should not let this rule scare you to a point where you are simply unable to ride. Just be sure that you are the most responsible person on the road and there will be no mishaps.

Other ways of keeping yourself and others’ safe on the road is to avoid riding while intoxicated, fatigued, or sleep-deprived. Moreover, when traveling on a longer route, it is best to avoid riding at night. Other times when you are feeling upset, depressed, or furious over something, it is best to stay away from your motorcycle and the roads. Riding is already considered a dangerous activity because a two-wheeler is relatively less stable than a four-wheeler. Furthermore, riding demands a higher level of focus and concentration. If your mental state or thinking ability is impaired in any way, it is best not to ride.

2. Touching Another Rider’s Motorcycle Without Permission

Touching Another Rider’s Motorcycle Without Permission

Motorcycles are a works of art, flaunting beautiful custom parts, stunning custom paint jobs, graphics, and other artistic details. On the other hand, some motorcycles are extremely awe-inspiring in their original form and onlookers cannot help but touch the bike. However, touching another rider’s bike without permission is against the unwritten rules of the motorcycle community. The main reason why many riders do not appreciate admirers touching their bikes is because the paint job can get dirty with fingerprints. Oftentimes our hands have dust that can act as an abrasive when we slide our hands back and forth against the painted framework of the bike. Therefore, always check with the owner of the bike whether he is okay with you touching his most prized possession. 

3. Leave Space for Others to Park

Leave Space for Others to Park

Motorcycles are a preferred mode of transportation because they allow riders to navigate traffic-dense places, and congested streets, and are easier to park in smaller areas. However, some motorcycle riders have no regard for other motorcyclists’ parking needs and park their bikes without leaving enough space for others to park or simply park right next to another bike without leaving enough space for them to move their bikes safely. These are the instances where the motorcycle paint job gets scratched causing distress and financial loss to the bike owner. Therefore, when parking your motorcycle next to another bike, make sure there is enough distance between the two vehicles. On the other hand, if there is enough room for two motorcycles to be easily parked, try not to take up all the space. 

4. Asking to Ride Someone Else’s Motorcycle

Never ask a motorcyclist to lend you his bike for a ride because in motorcycle culture if a rider feels comfortable with others using their bike, they offer a ride themselves. No matter how great of a friend you think you are, when it comes to motorcycles, it is important to respect boundaries. If you must ride a bike that you don’t own, you can simply rent that bike for a day or so to enjoy the feel of the bike. Online motorcycle-sharing platforms such as Twisted Roads and Riders Share have listings of almost all new and old models available for rentals at affordable rates. So avoid embarrassing yourself or putting your friendship at risk by asking another biker to let you ride his motorcycle. 

5. Tap Your Helmet - Cop Tap

According to the Universal Motorcycle Helmet Use laws, in some states of America, including Iowa, New Hampshire, and Illinois, there are no strict helmet laws. But in others, motorcyclists are required to wear a helmet. When traveling to another state, bikers are always advised to check helmets and other riding laws, but one can always forget to do so. As a member of the motorcycle community, if you spot a biker riding without a helmet in your city or state where wearing a helmet is mandated by law and you also see a police officer ahead, the least you can do is inform the fellow motorcyclist by tapping the top of your helmet.

Some riders also tap their helmets to ask another rider to slow down to avoid the speeding ticket or when there is a hazard coming up ahead, and you can do the same. It is worth mentioning that helmet taps the meaning of a helmet tap can be different in different regions so act accordingly. 

6. Always Check Before Changing Lanes

As mentioned earlier, each motorcyclist is expected to be the most responsible person on the road. Therefore, even if it is your right to turn, change lanes, slow down, or get to the intersection, you must first check that others are paying attention to your moves. This way, you can ensure your and others’ safety on the road and prevent terrible accidents from happening. Here also, you can use easy-to-understand hand signals that convey the meaning properly. 

7. Stopping Right Next to Another Motorcycle is a Big No!

Stopping Right Next to Another Motorcycle is a Big No!

Many motorcyclists are too keen on making friends on the road, and what better way to do that than to just stop right next to another biker at the top signal? Motorcycles are open two-wheelers with no physical boundaries or barriers separating you from other riders or vehicles. Many riders enjoy this openness; however, at the stoplight, this can become awkward and overwhelming. Imagine sitting right next to a stranger without permission, even though there are other spots available for you to sit. You will make them uncomfortable by invading their personal space. The same rule applies here.

Another reason why you should not stop right next to another motorcycle is because it creates confusion about who will move first when the signal turns green. This thoughtlessness initially feels harmless but can lead to accidents. When approaching from the back, always make sure that you stop behind the motorcycle, but if you are the first one to reach the stop light, 

8. Stop to Help

If you see a motorcyclist standing at the side of the street or a highway, you must pull over and at least offer to help. For this purpose, always carry a toolbox that has all the essential motorcycle tools in it. If you don’t have storage space, invest in high-quality motorcycle saddlebags to carry all the essential tools and equipment safely and easily. 

9. Only Join Groups When Invited

Only Join Groups When Invited

Many motorcyclists believe that after learning how to ride, acquiring a motorcycle license, and registering a motorcycle, they have become official members of the motorcycle community and can now join any club or group they want. Many riders join a group without their permission, spoiling their road trip in the process. Just because the group of riders has been traveling on the same route as you does not mean they are willing to share their adventurous experiences with you.

Imagine sitting at a diner all by yourself and spotting a group of friends enjoying their meal and having fun. Would you just go over and take a seat at their table? No, you wouldn’t. Similarly, if you spot a group of riders on the road, either get permission to join or simply keep to yourself. Additionally, each member in a motorcycle group maintains a position to ensure everyone’s safety. An uninvited rider can make it difficult to maintain this position, putting everyone’s lives at risk. 

10. Learn and Use Hand Signals Appropriately

Over the years, the global motorcycle community has come up with some universal hand signals that allow them to communicate with other riders. Being a part of the motorcycle community, it is important for you to know and understand these hand gestures, especially when riding with a group. Some of these hand signals let you know about the law enforcement officers, safety hazards, stop signs, there is an accident ahead, another rider needs help, ask you to slow down or speed up. Paying attention to and following all of these signals is essential to ensure safety on the road.

In addition, the motorcycle community uses hand gestures and signals to socialize and greet other bikers. While it is important not to be over-friendly and keep one's distance from strangers and respect their space, a friendly wave is almost always reciprocated with a smile or a wave. You might see a rider approaching from the opposite direction looking at you and giving you a two-finger salute, which means “Hi!” To ensure that you don’t miss a friendly salute, be sure to see the position of a rider’s hands. To pay a salute, they often move one of their hands down with only their hand on the handlebar grip, controlling the bike. You can also wave at other riders to convey that you have noticed them or to acknowledge them.

If you don’t see a fellow rider saluting you, you can be the first to perform this kind gesture. And most importantly, don’t just salute the riders with expensive, fully-decked motorcycles only. Also, salute riders owning a scooter, moped, mini motorcycle, etc to appreciate them and make them feel included. The helmet tap or the cop tap we discussed earlier is another important hand signal that you must learn and execute when the need arises.

11. Noise Levels

Motorcycles are now widely used for touring and camping purposes. Thanks to powerful touring two-wheelers that offer ample storage space, a comfortable seat, a powerful engine, and all the necessary features that you need to travel to remote scenic places, riding to far-away national forests, national parks, state parks, and other beautiful places has become a surreal experience. The motorcycle community understands a rider’s need for exploration, adventure, and recreation, and they actively promote touring on a two-wheeler. However, when traveling to these scenic places, it is extremely important to check one’s noise levels. From loud music to revving engines, deafening noise levels can spoil others’ experience, scare wildlife, and pollute the serene atmosphere. Therefore, as a member of the motorcycle community, it is expected of you to be responsible and help preserve the beauty and tranquility of natural landscapes. 

12. Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace

Motorcycle camping in well-known national parks and national forests with designated areas requires a reservation at least three to six months prior. Any vacant camping sites available at the most scenic national and state parks are offered on a first come first serve basis. When riding long distances, many riders spontaneously add camping to their schedule and choose to stay at BLM lands where the only rule of staying is to “leave no trace.” As an unwritten rule, all members of the motorcycle community are expected to follow this rule while camping or staying on BLM lands. Off-road riding enthusiasts are also expected to be responsible and not ride on sensitive scenic trails to preserve their natural beauty and minimize impact. 

13. Securely Mounting Aftermarket Accessories and Luggage

Securely Mounting Aftermarket Accessories and Luggage

Fellow motorcyclists are well aware of your need to carry personal essentials, luggage, tools, water bottles, snacks, and other items with you while riding. However, there are certain unwritten rules that you must follow when mounting luggage, accessories, and equipment on your motorcycle. First, it is important to choose a motorcycle part or luggage bag that is compatible with your motorcycle and features a secure mounting system. Oftentimes, hard motorcycle trunks or tour packs have loose lids that cause the stored items to fall out. These items when out on the road lead to accidents.

Also, a motorcycle saddlebag with loose or worn-out straps may fall off the bike along with your luggage, taking the rider behind you completely off-guard. Even if other riders maneuver their bikes in time to avoid a collision, they may get involved in a no-contact accident or lose the balance of their bike. Therefore, when customizing your motorcycle, be sure to choose high-quality luggage bags with sturdy and secure mounting systems to ensure the safety of others on the road. 

14. Avoid Wearing Distracting Helmets

Avoid Wearing Distracting Helmets

Custom motorcycle helmets with striking colors, rare graphics, and eccentric artwork have now become a style statement in motorcycle culture. However, there are some unwritten rules that you must follow when getting your helmet custom-painted or choosing an artsy safety gear. You can use different colored helmets, but make sure they are not too distracting for others. On the one hand, vivid colors can help make you more visible to others on the road, but they can also have certain implications for others. Avoid wearing helmets with reflective surfaces, too bold or flashy graphics, and offensive symbols because they can easily attract attention, compromising others’ safety on the road. Moreover, when choosing a custom helmet, it is also important to consider local helmet laws to avoid getting in trouble with law enforcement officers. 

15. Regularly Maintaining the Motorcycle

Regularly Maintaining the Motorcycle

All motorcyclists are expected to properly maintain their motorcycles because poorly maintained motorcycles are a serious safety hazard for both the bike owner and road users. Before every motorcycle ride, be sure to perform safety checks, including brake performance, tire pressure, and tread condition, lights and turn signals, fluid levels, and other safety checks that help prevent mechanical breakdowns and failures or identify underlying mechanical problems. If you find motorcycle maintenance too much of a task or a financial liability, it is recommended that you don't own a motorcycle and rent it now and then to enjoy a ride. 

16. Last Words

The motorcycle community has its ways, etiquette, and rules that all members understand, respect, and follow to make motorcycling safer, promote camaraderie, and ensure an enjoyable experience for all two-wheeler enthusiasts. There are many benefits to riding a motorcycle, but these benefits can only be enjoyed if you are considerate of others as well. From mindful parking to motorcycle maintenance, executing friendly gestures, and helping fellow riders in need there are many unwritten and unspoken rules that you should follow. By following these rules and principles, you can make a positive impact on the community and also enhance your own experiences on the road. Whether you are an experienced rider or a novice biker who has just acquired his license and a motorcycle, be sure to remember these rules and act accordingly. 

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