7 Rules to Live by On Your Motorcycle

Good reminders to keep motorcycling safe, fun, and exciting

By Genevieve Schmitt, Editor, and Tricia Szulewski, Assistant Editor

1. Ride your own ride.
This is particularly important when riding with others. Don’t ride beyond your limits or comfort zone regardless of how fast—or slow—others are going.

7 rules to live by on your motorcycle indian dark horse
Go at your own pace on a motorcycle always, even if it means riding alone for a stretch of time like this rider on her 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse. Enjoy the peace and solitude that comes from being one with your motorcycle.

2. Listen to your intuition.
This is that little voice in your head that says to do—or not do—something. It’s very helpful when riding a motorcycle.

7 rules to live by on your motorcycle intuition
Riding a motorcycle is not the time to abandon common sense. Safety is obviously an important factor, and many experienced riders will say their intuition or a gut feeling saved them. Take heed of what you’re feeling about a particular situation and don’t let peer pressure convince you to do something or go somewhere that doesn’t sit right with you.

3. Buy the motorcycle you want!

7 rules to live by on your motorcycle spyder f3-t
If three wheels is what you want—like this 2017 Can-Am Spyder F3-T—then get it. You’ll have no regrets knowing you listened to your inner voice. Three wheels or two: get what feels right to you. By the way, women are loving the Spyder F3-T (thats why were featuring it), a touring version of the popular F3 line of Spyders with the protection of the low windshield, a 4-speaker audio system, and the integrated hard side luggage.

You’re the person riding the motorcycle. Be sure to get what you are comfortable on. Don’t get talked into purchasing a motorcycle you’re not completely sure about. Spouses and family members may not always know what’s really best for you.

4. Be a good example.
Remember that every time you get on your motorcycle you represent all other riders to the rest of the world. Be courteous to other motorists and try and wave to other riders, regardless of what she or he is riding.

7 rules to live by on your motorcycle kawasaki vulcan s
This rider is representing motorcyclists well on her Kawasaki Vulcan S with a nice smile cruising through a downtown area. You never know what future rider is watching you as you travel through big and small towns.

5. ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time)
Whether you’re just going to the corner store or heading out on a cross-country expedition, the gear will only protect you if you are wearing it. ATGATT, the acronym adopted by motorcyclists to promote the wearing of full gear all the time, includes a jacket, pants, helmet, boots, and gloves all designed with safety features created to protect you in the event of an accident. If you don’t wear gloves but everything else, you’re not adhering to the ATGATT principle. If you wear tennis shoes with everything else, you’re not adhering to ATGATT. Get it?

7 rules to live by on your motorcycle bmw venting suit
Yes, you can look this good wearing all the gear! This BMW F 800 R rider is outfitted in the Venting Suit offered by BMW Riders’ Apparel. It’s made from abrasion-resistant Cordura denim and mesh fabric for optimum ventilation. There’s armor in the shoulders, elbows, and knees. Helmet, gloves, and boots complete the safety picture.
7 rules to live by on your motorcycle kymco myroad 700
Even scooter riders need to buy into ATGATT and they can look good doing it. Kevlar-lined Draggin’ brand jeans give WRN editor Genevieve Schmitt a casual look (but offer abrasion resistant properties built in) while she test rides this maxi-scooter, the Kymco MyRoad 700i.

6. Continue learning.
Knowledge equals power so the more you do to educate yourself about motorcycling, the better you’ll be at the sport.

7 rules to live by on your motorcycle yamaha bolt r-spec
No matter what motorcycle you ride and how long you’ve been at it, there’s always more to learn. This rider is on the 2017 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec.

Take classes to advance your skills. Ride often. Challenge yourself. Read as many articles about motorcycling as you can. Do some of your own maintenance. Know your motorcycle. All these things and more will empower you with knowledge and skill.

7. Have fun!

7 rules to live by on your motorcycle sportster
Hers and his! Making special memories together on Harley-Davidson Sportsters: hers the Iron; his, the Forty-Eight.

Keep the drama out of motorcycling. It’s a beautiful thing that you are one of the few persons in the world—relative to the larger population as a whole—who get to experience the world out in the open air on two wheels. Find peace in knowing you get to engage in this spectacular life-blessing activity.

For all the time it took to learn, buy a motorcycle, and become proficient in riding, treasure the act of riding. Keep it sacred in your life. And enjoy every mile to its fullest.

Thats our list. Now tell us your rules to live by on your motorcycle in the comments below.

Related articles
Riding Right: Safety Tips
6 Ways To Get More Women in Motorcycling

36 thoughts on 7 Rules to Live by On Your Motorcycle

  1. I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with AGATT. It’s a personal choice. I’m AGATT anytime I’m at the track or going out to rip up corners on the R6, or going on the freeway on the VFR 800 I’m an AGATT. If I’m just going out and about running my errands or buzzing around town on my Honda V65 Magna or going out to stunt on the Grom I am in jeans, helmet, gloves, and spine protector… but it’s a personal choice. I have had plenty of wrecks between dirt bike and road course racing and have walked away from every one whether AGATT or not. Again I have been riding for 35 years, I started on an XR 80 when I was 7, and this is my personal choice. I am, however, always in a skid lid or full face. This pic is my daughter sitting on my Honda Magna.

    1. Count your blessings, Ari. Riding a motorcycle is as much a personal choice as the type of gear you choose to wear. You can reduce the risk of injury or death by the choices you make. While you have been lucky thus far, there’s no guarantee that you’ll continue to be so lucky if you have another incident. We wish you all the best.

  2. If you are always performing “evasive” maneuvers when on two wheels to avoid an “incident,” it’s time to have a chat with the person in the mirror as it might be your abilities/skills that need improvement.A former Canada Safety Council Motorcycle Instructor

  3. I’m a newbie. Riding a Harley-Davidson trike and loving it.A reminder that if you drop your helmet, you probably need a new one since the material within the shell is only rated for one impact. Treat your helmet as though it is as fragile as a baby.

  4. I am a school bus driver. I drive a bright yellow 40-foot behemoth every day. People still don’t see me. Best advice is ride defensively, stay out of driver’s blind spots, and ride like every driver around you is clueless.

  5. Similar to what someone else said, ride like you’re invisible! No bumper sticker out there is going to make someone “see” us. I have been riding for only three years and have been in multiple near-miss incidents where vehicles move over without looking. Head on a swivel, people!

  6. I am a newbie and am loving every minute of it! One thing that I was told that I always try to keep in mind is “ride like you are invisible.” The person who told me this said that a driver can look you in the eye and still pull right out in front of you.

  7. I appreciate that the Can-Am Spyder (my ride) is suggested. I have taken the MSF class twice and purchased two motorcycles but nothing felt right for me. I jumped on a Can-Am and all of its bells and whistles made my choice easy. I hope someone does an article on them! My husband still rides his Harley and I just laugh when I back into a parking space. The Spyder is so much safer for me at the young age of 58.

  8. Love the article and agree wholeheartedly. I also live by “Assume everyone on the road is out to get you.” It’s kept me very vigilant and aware of surrounding traffic. Thanks.

  9. Along with all the advice in the article and comments, I would add to practice slow speed maneuvers, such as U-turns, often. These are skills that deteriorate quickly and only practice will keep you proficient in them.

  10. Beginner riders, if you have the ability to buddy up with some that has years of experience, that is great. I have a brother who points out some “little” things that could be big. Around here, when road ditches are mowed, the fresh cut grass is blown onto the road. If you ride on that at the right time it’s like grease on the road. When you stop at an intersection, look where you put your feet; cars can drip oil etc, which could cause you foot to slip.

  11. Never get comfortable.Be accomplished; be confident; be prepared (skills training) and “all gear all the time”; but never get comfortable.The unexpected happens fast. Too comfortable and you let your guard down. Be vigilant, be watchful, stay prepared… you can still have fun. Ride on baby, ride on!

  12. Very informative article and this is my number one go to website for women riders.

    1. Awesome! Thank for letting us know. We love hearing from readers who love what we do!

  13. 8. Be humble. Showing off, hot dogging it, taking unnecessary risks, feeding your ego not only puts me at risk but others as well.

  14. I ride a Spyder STS (two wheels on front, one in the back). It looks like a sportbike and rides like a touring bike. I love it, and I ride it to work most of the time.I ride with all the gear, all the time, even on three wheels. I ride with groups, but I ride by myself. I carry, concealed, in case of trouble.I’ll be 60 this May, and like the country song, “My next 30 years,” I plan on riding for a long, long time.

  15. I ride with the local sportbike group, mainly with the new riders and often half of the group are women. Often the language is daunting that describes the technical aspects, riding lines, motor characteristics for different configurations, and handling characteristics of different bikes.It takes a while to learn but many tune out and disregard as not essential, which it is for basic operation, but when you pick up the pace this information applies.Many women put incredible pressure on themselves to succeed and the pressure hinders them actually learning as they are in survival mode instead of understanding a skill or concept and implementing in a structured manner. It just takes time and it’s important to not feel like failing in the moment, a time scale is individual with understanding unique to each person.

  16. I give thanks before and after my rides. I pray for safe travels. And then we ride.

  17. I agree with AGATT. I don’t leave home without them. Short or long trips. Although helmets are required in NY State, I would wear it if it wasn’t a requirement. I obtained my motorcycle license in 1999. I was 46 years old. Now at 63, I ride a 2010 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Trike. A trike allows me to transport my husband. I don’t want to leave him home alone. He is my biggest supporter and loves to ride with me. He is proud of me and points out to fellow travelers that the trike is mine.

  18. Love the list. Thank you. I am a rider of one year and love every minute of it.

  19. Good point on AGATT especially like Florida or Michigan where helmet use is optional. Draggin Jeans are good for abrasion but knees, elbows, and shoulders can and do break when the bike falls over. Even a stopped bike tipover can break or crush your foot, hand, or arm, so good padded armor is essential. Wear good boots. I’m a believer in crash bars as they can keep the weight of the bike off of you a bit. Everyone is going to tip over sometime.

  20. I totally agree with all the good points. Only #3 was and still is the biggest one I can only “wish” for, not being rich or able to get into debt at my age (I’m 67 and sort of retired). My first motorcycle was only what I could afford after losing my two youngest sons dying in a car crash and quite depressed. I barely wanted to be alive and kept praying for something or someone to give me something to live for. I looked at my bucket list and remembered since a child I always wanted to ride and own a motorcycle. So I took my first vacation in 15 years and drove to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. I really enjoyed the sights and sounds of all those motorcycles. It took me two years to save enough to get a used, beat up 1990 Harley Sportster and I made many mistakes, like buying that Harley. I joined an all-women’s riding group which helped me find a little newer, but in beautiful shape 2005 Custom Sportster for a good deal. And it cost me the same $5,500. I love my ’05 Sporty but it’s top-heavy with a 4.2 gas tank so it scares me but it’s all I can afford, paid off with two jobs. If I was maybe rich, not so old, and/or married with two incomes, I would be buying that motorcycle that fits my “comfort level.” I LOVE riding every moment I can… 7,690 just this year, the most I’ve done. It is my happy outlet. I was sharing my life story. Thanks for your magazine. I enjoy reading it and I too am still learning!

  21. Ride safe always. Ride long or stay home!

  22. Always very careful not to get on a bike if in an emotional state. Riding while distracted by dramatic turmoil is dangerous. The anger and BS don’t go.

  23. Great advice! I rode dirt bikes as a youth, didn’t have nerve even to get my cycle endorsement for street bike until 2007. Took a Riders Edge course at dealership. Learned a lot from that. Expensive at dealership. I could have saved hundreds of dollars as the same course is only $25 at a local community college. But it was a great learning experience.Started on a 2007 Kawasaki 900 Vulcan classic, had more than 25,000 miles on that bike. Traded it in on a new 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse earlier this year. Have more than 5,000 miles on that bike. It is definitely best to start small and work up to something bigger and more powerful once you have more experience. Always watch for dangers whether it’s another driver or wildlife. And most of all enjoy the ride at your pace!

  24. Well, here is a tip for the new and upcoming riders. I have been riding for some time now but you must always drive defensively. Case in point: on my way home yesterday there was a traffic jam just under a bridge on a curve. The view is limited at this curve and the car in front of me was either not paying a attention or just decided to locked it up. Needless to say, even with the room I was given between me and him I ended up next to his car on the shoulder of the road. (that was my out) The other thing that was a big factor in saving me from running into the back of his vehicle was the ABS system on my bike. (2013 HD Road Glide Ultra)So remember, if you think you have enough room give a little more because you will probably run into this type of situation one day. And always look for an out, because it could save you life one day. Ride safe, take training and Godspeed.

  25. I just purchased a 2007 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic. I am planning to take a motorcycle class as soon as I get it up and running. Just wanted to say I appreciate all of the advice and tips. Reading the news and spending the last two years on the back of a bike makes me a little nervous but I am going to ride regardless.Any and all additional tips are always appreciated.

  26. Know How and Be Able to Pick Up Your Bike!One of the first “rules” I was taught when I started riding back in the 70s was “If you can’t pick it up, don’t ride it.” There are techniques that allow small people to pick up heavy bikes; know them and practice them with your bike. Bikes go over for various reasons and there may not always be someone there to help get it upright again!

  27. For the “long haired” women. It’s much easier to comb the hair at the end of the day IF you have ponytail/wrap/knit skull cap on your hair. Doesn’t get caught in/on other equipment (coat snaps/rings; face rings; etc.) on you or the bike. Just a thought for all.

  28. Great reminders. Will share with Tour de Filles Louisiana, with a few Wind Sisters pages! Love your articles, great insights for women.

  29. I always love the words of wisdom from this website! I’d like to add a tidbit. Llearn to recognize and respect limitations. Can you ride in that explosive downpour or those frigid temps? Sure! Can you ride more than 1,000 miles on a bald tire or have pics taken of your bad self lookin’ great in that bikini top rockin down the road? Absolutely. Should you? Not so much.This kind of ties in to #2 about listening to that inner voice and while bad choices typically make for great stories, smart choices up the odds you’ll be around longer. Live to ride, right? Ride safe and ride often, ladies!

  30. Due to my husband’s work, I spend my time between two continents. I ride a BMW 700GS in Texas and a BMW R nineT in Abu Dhabi. Your comments are all common sense, but we need to be reminded of the basics constantly as becoming complacent is so dangerous. One rule I live by—be constantly aware! Be aware of traffic in front, next to, and behind you. Drivers are not attuned to bikers and we need to, unfortunately, think for them as well. Always ride defensively. Think through scenarios about what drivers may do and how you will react. This has saved me on numerous occasions.

  31. In addition, always ride sober. I ride often on poker runs that seem to go from bar to bar, and I see riders drinking a beer or two and then getting on their bike and having a couple more at the next stop. With all the other distractions (traffic, mountain views, deer, etc.) you need to have full control of your faculties. I’ll have a pop, in a bar glass, please!

  32. I loved reading this article! Everything you say here is absolutely true. I specially liked advise number 2: Listen to your intuition. I always listen to the little voice in my head and there have been days when it told me not to ride. I cannot even explain why but perhaps it was due to the fact that my mood was not the right one or my body was feeling not my usual self. It’s crazy but there are days when I feel my riding is smooth and confident, and days when I cannot even make a sharp turn easily! And I am an experienced rider with more than 10 years in my bikes. Always listen to you intuition. Don’t ever get on your bike if you are angry. Be very aware of your environment when riding. Check your bike before heading out. Wear the proper gear even if you ride in the back, and practice, practice, practice! Motorcycles are cool and fun!

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