Off-Road motorcycling can be a wonderful outdoor family activity and a great way to enjoy nature – if you take responsibility for your own safety, as well as the safety of those around you and understand the challenges you can meet while riding.
Many models of motorcycle have been designed specifically for younger riders. Please follow manufacture’s recommendation for appropriate operator age. However, not all youngsters are physically or emotionally ready to ride. Therefore, before parents allow any youngster to ride this motorcycle, we urge them to carefully read the Important Message to Parents.
There is much that you can do to protect yourself when you ride. You’ll find many helpful recommendations throughout this manual. The following are a few that we consider most important.
Always Wear a Helmet
It’s a proven fact: helmets significantly reduce the number and severity of head injuries. So always wear an approved motorcycle helmet. We also recommend that you wear eye protection, sturdy boots, gloves, and other protective gear (such as knee and elbow pads and chest and shoulder protection).
Never Carry a Passenger
(Unless machine is specifically designed for passengers) Most off-road motorcycles are designed for one person only. There are no handholds, footrests, or seat for a second person – so never carry a passenger. A passenger could interfere with your ability to move around to maintain your balance and control of the motorcycle.
Ride Off-Road Only Bikes
These motorcycles are designed and manufactured specifically for off-road use only. The tires are not made for pavement, and the motorcycle does not have turn signals and other features required for use on public roads. Some off-road motorcycles are specifically designed for “Dual Sport” use. These vehicles are equipped with appropriate tires, lighting and safety features for highway use.
If your motorcycle is not equipped with a headlight and tail light do not ride at night.
Take Time to Learn and Practice
Developing off-road riding skills is a gradual, step-by-step process. Start by practicing at low speeds in a safe area and slowly build your skills. Personal instruction from an experienced rider can also be valuable.
If you need assistance, ask your dealer about riding groups in your area.
Be Alert for Off-Road Hazards
The terrain can present a variety of challenges when you ride off-road. Continually “read” the terrain for unexpected turns, drop-offs, rocks, ruts, and other hazards. Always keep your speed low enough to allow time to see and react to hazards.
Ride within Your Limits
Pushing limits is another major cause of motorcycle accidents. Never ride beyond your personal abilities or faster than conditions warrant. Remember that alcohol, drugs, fatigue, and inattention can significantly reduce your ability to make good judgments and ride safely.
Don’t Drink and Ride
Alcohol and riding don’t mix. Even one drink can reduce your ability to respond to changing conditions, and your reaction time gets worse with every additionally drink. So don’t drink and ride, and don’t let your friends drink and ride either.
Keep Your Motorcycle in Safe Condition
It’s important to keep your motorcycle properly maintained and in safe riding condition. Having a breakdown can be difficult, especially if you are stranded off-road far from your base. To help avoid problems, inspect your motorcycle before every ride and perform all recommended maintenance.
Special Message to Parents
Your child’s safety is very important. That’s why we urge you to read this message before you let any young person ride this motorcycle. Off-road riding can be fun. But, as with riding a bicycle, bad judgment can result in injury, and we don’t want that to happen! As a parent, you can help prevent accidents by making good decisions about if, when, and how your youngster rides this motorcycle.
The first decision you’ll need to make is whether your youngster is ready to ride. Riding readiness varies widely from one person to another, and age and size are not the only factors.
PHYSICAL ABILITY is an important consideration. For example, riders must be big enough to hold the motorcycle up, get on, and comfortably sit on the seat with both feet touching the ground. They should also be able to easily reach and work the brakes, throttle, and all other controls.
ATHLETIC ABILITY is necessary for riding a motorcycle. Generally speaking, your youngster should be good at riding a bicycle before getting on a motorcycle. Can your youngster judge speeds and distances while riding a bicycle and react with proper hand and foot actions? Anyone who does not have good coordination, balance, and agility is not ready to ride this motorcycle.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL MATURITY are requirements for safe riding. Does your youngster think through problems and come to logical solutions? On a bicycle, does your youngster obey safe riding rules? Be honest! Young people who take unnecessary risks, make bad judgments, and don’t obey rules are not ready to ride this motorcycle.
Instruction and Supervision
If you decide that your youngster is ready to safely operate this motorcycle, make sure both of you carefully read and understand the owner’s manual before riding. Also be sure that your youngster has a helmet and other appropriate riding equipment and always wears it when operating the vehicle or sitting on it.
GOOD INSTRUCTION is an important part of hands-on training. The teacher can either be you or another responsible adult who has experience with off-road motorcycle riding. Even if you’re not the main teacher, it’s up to you to ensure your youngster’s safety. Remember, learning to ride a motorcycle is a gradual, step-by-step process. It takes time, patience, and practice – many hours over a period of weeks or months.
SUPERVISION is another important obligation of parents. Even after youngsters have become skilled off-road riders, they should always ride with adult supervision. It helps to regularly remind young riders of basic safety rules and precautions. And remember, it’s your responsibility to see that the motorcycle is properly maintained and kept in safe operating condition.
SAFE AND RESPONSIBLE RIDING must be an on-going commitment – by you and your youngster. When you both put safety first, you can enjoy more peace of mind, and your youngster can enjoy more hours of safe off-road riding.