Safety is everyone’s concern, whether you’re a motocross racer or a spectator. Accidents happen, but you can prevent them in some cases by keeping on top of bike maintenance by replacing worn or broken dirt bike parts, wearing the right motocross protective gear and keeping up to date on the rules and regulations. Many tracks have their own set of safety guidelines which should be covered at every riders briefing and in larger events the supplementary regulations issued with your entry forms, this ensures your safety the safety your fellow racers on the track.
In any form of motorcycle riding or competing, a rider must first and foremost take the conditions and their own ability into consideration. A rider with little experience may sometimes ride outside of their comfort level which more often than not doesn’t end well. No matter what your skill level it is highly recommended to participate in some professional coaching, especially if you are a beginner and want to start racing.
Here are 5 tips on safety every motocross rider should be familiar with:
1. Be aware of the track’s safety rules.
Before you are allowed anywhere near a racetrack to compete you would first have to obtain your racing license. In order to get your license there is a written test and also a physical riding assessment to prove you are capable and confident on a motorbike. The written exam covers racing rules and tracks etiquette, the flag signals which are used to control the flow of the competitors (particularly during the event of an accident and the actions to take depending on the situation), and the flags being displayed. Every genre of motorcycle competition will have different rules to abide by so getting a clear understanding of them will improve the level of safety when competing and may also prevent you from being penalized during a race for not following the rules.
2. Refresh your knowledge about the flags and their respective meanings.
Races have different flags that signal riders about certain conditions. Other than the color, flag held at certain angles also has specific meanings. A yellow flag, for example, says ‘Danger.’ When held stationary, it means you should ‘ride with caution.’ There are also instances when the yellow flag is waved. This says there’s immediate danger and that riders should prepare to stop without overtaking.
There are different types of flags for every instance. You should know the meanings of each one, so you know what to do every time an official raises or moves a certain flag. This way, you don’t incur penalties or get caught up in an accident which has already taken place.
3. Look into private health cover and/or personal injury insurance.
It pays to have insurance coverage which will assist you in the event of an injury. There are a number of different options available but aim to choose an insurance policy that covers sports injuries and has ambulance cover, a policy which covers chiropractic and physiotherapy is also a good idea. You can get insurance to cover your wages if you are injured and have to take an extended period of time off work. There are a number of companies to choose from so do your research before you make your choice!
4. Wear the right motocross protective gear.
The most important piece of safety gear you will own is your motocross helmet, particularly one which fits you correctly. There is a range of helmets available all of which are made up of different materials so spending the time to research and learn what separates a good helmet from a great one should be a big priority for every rider. Good quality motocross boots with strong lateral ankle support should also be a priority as your feet are always the closest body part to the ground. You don’t even need to have a crash to sustain a leg injury so this is an important piece of safety gear!
Motocross neck braces are a more recent invention but are regarded as one of the biggest technological breakthroughs in safety gear since tri-composite helmets! Goggles, motocross gloves, and a good quality motocross gear set will help keep you protected on the bike. There is a range of different chest protectors, body armor, back protectors and kidney belts to protect your torso and internal organs. Depending on the genre of riding you are participating in will determine what will be most suitable for you.
Anyone who has had a knee injury will tell you knee braces are a must, you can significantly reduce the severity of knee ligament damage with a strong set of braces which may save you needing major surgery. A lesser model of the brace is elbow guards and knee guards which reduce impact and abrasion-type injuries.
5. Keep your motorcycle in good condition.
Any form of motorcycle riding will result in wear and tear on your machinery and gear. Plan ahead and schedule proper maintenance of the engine and other moving parts. Adding an hour meter to your bike will help keep track of the amount of work your bike has done so you will have a better understanding on when it is due for servicing, rebuilds and for 4 stroke machines checking valve clearances. There are also many external moving parts with chains, sprockets, suspension, spokes and linkage bearing kits which all need frequent cleaning, lubrication, tensioning and sometimes replacement. Keeping a notebook and recording when you check, service and maintain all of these is a good idea to ensure your bike always runs to its full potential with less chance of mechanical failure.
These tips do not only apply in the course or race, but every rider must also know this to ensure safety in and out of the race tracks.