How to Make a Bike Your Only Form of Transportation

Tips on Living With Only Two Wheels

I've been riding motorcycles for years, but I've always had a car in the garage as a backup form of transportation-- that is, until my car was totaled.

I wasn't expecting to lose my car, but it made me realize how differently you need to approach riding when it's your only form of transportation. Here are some tips on how to make your motorcycle your sole way of getting around:

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Gear up!

Motorcycling already requires a significant investment in safety gear, but even if you think you're totally covered, think again. Do you have gloves warm enough for a midnight run for groceries? Do you have a vented jacket for summer heat? How about boots rugged enough for a ride but versatile enough for dinner at a restaurant? Think of all your potential apparel needs, and gear up accordingly.

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Think ahead.

Without a car as a backup, you're more exposed to variables that are out of your control like weather and traffic. So if you're relying only on a bike to get from A to B, brace yourself for everything from slick roads to cold weather by planning ahead. Think about how late you'll stay at your destination, and consider the circumstances. For instance, if you might be out after dark, don't keep that tinted visor on your helmet. If you may need to pick up groceries on your way home, bring the right backpack. With a little bit of forethought, you can save yourself from a lot of inconvenience.

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Keep your bike in tip-top shape.

Getting stranded during a weekend joy ride can be unpleasant. But suffering a breakdown on your way to work is just plain bad news. Make sure your bike will go the distance by keeping your oil changed, inspecting and maintaining your tires, making sure your chain is properly lubricated and tensioned, and last but not least, make your bike presentable by keeping it nice and clean. And if your bike has been in storage for a while, be sure to get it back on the road properly.

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Have a backup plan.

A little bit of forethought goes a long way, and considering the things that can go wrong while you're out and about might give you an idea of how to prepare for the unexpected. Just like you'd plan for a long motorcycle ride, take into account what might alleviate snafus in your day-to-day commute. Whether that means keeping cab fare in your wallet just in case, or letting a friend know you might need a ride if it rains, having a backup plan can save you from an awkward situation that prevents you from riding.

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Streamline your routine.

Do you like to keep your boots polished? Your helmet clean? Your riding suit hung in your garage right next to your bike? Figuring out what you like about your routine and keeping it that way will free you up to think about other, more fun things. A little bit of structure can actually give you more freedom, not to mention more time for riding.

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Know when and where to draw the line.

Whether it's the temptation to drink alcohol and ride, or simply the lure of getting too casual to be cautious, knowing when and where to draw the line will keep you riding for a long time. Set rules for yourself and abide by them, and if that means a zero tolerance policy towards drinking and riding or keeping on your guard and always staying visible while you ride, you'll find that setting limits goes a long way towards self-preservation.