Saskatchewan Motorcycle Driver`s Handbook - Preparing to ride

Saskatchewan Motorcycle Driver`s Handbook - Preparing to ride
9. Increase SDR and Driver Improvement Program consequences for all drivers
and riders (to 3 points) for:
• changing lanes when not safe to do so
• failing to obey a licence restriction or endorsement
• following too closely
• improperly equipped motorcycle passenger or operator
Planned for the 2015 riding season
Additional requirements for all riders in the MGDL program:
• Limit the engine size the rider is permitted to operate during the MGDL period
to the size used during their basic ability road test or motorcycle road test.
The engine size restriction will be waived for those who successfully complete
an SGI-approved motorcycle training course. Existing MGDL riders are not
affected unless they do not test out and re-enter the MGDL program.
Planned for the 2016 riding season
Starting in 2016, there will be an additional $500 annual driver’s licence premium
for riders entering the MGDL program. The premium will be waived for those who
have successfully completed an SGI-approved motorcycle training program and
the motorcycle training course fee will be refunded for riders who complete the
MGDL program with no at-fault collisions or traffic convictions. Existing MGDL
riders will not be required to pay the $500 premium unless they allow their
learner’s licence to expire and later re-enter the MGDL program.
• Require all motorcycle riders and passengers to wear eye protection (remove
windshield exemption).
For more information on changes to motorcycle law please visit
3. Preparing to ride
Your chances of getting to your destination in one piece are influenced by the
things you do before starting out. Good riders always begin a trip with:
• proper clothing
• a check of the motorcycle
• a test of the motorcycle’s operation
Proper clothing
Proper clothing includes:
• an approved helmet
• eye and face
face shield
• protective clothing
• MGDL riders (and any
passengers) must
have their arms and
legs covered,
wear fingercovering gloves,
boots and an
approved threequarter, modular or
full-face helmet.
sturdy full-length
over-the-ankle boots
An approved helmet
An approved motorcycle helmet can protect you from serious head injury. When
a motorcycle falls, the rider’s head often hits something hard, like pavement or a
If you are in the MGDL program at the Learner, Novice 1 or Novice 2 stage, or
the passenger of a Novice 2 motorcycle operator, you must wear an approved
three-quarter, modular or full-face helmet.
The human head is fragile and head injuries are often fatal or crippling.
Saskatchewan law says that riders and passengers must wear approved helmets
and have them properly fastened. A surprising number of motorcyclists killed in
accidents were not wearing their helmets. Wear your helmet every time you ride.
A helmet must:
• meet Saskatchewan standards (see page 71)
• have a strong chin strap and fastener
• be free of defects such as cracks, loose padding, frayed straps or exposed
A full-face or modular helmet is recommended. It’s a good idea to have a helmet
that is a bright colour such as red, white, yellow or orange. It should also have
reflective material on the back and the sides. However, check the manufacturer’s
specifications before using any adhesive on your helmet.
When selecting a helmet, make sure it fits properly. When you put it on, make
sure it is snug and the strap is securely fastened. Studies of motorcycle crashes
show that loose helmets are ineffective because they come off in collisions.
Eye and face protection
Your eyes need protection from wind, dust, rain, insects and small pebbles thrown
up from vehicles ahead. If the motorcycle is not equipped with a windshield
that deflects the airstream away from the driver’s face, the operator must wear
goggles, safety glasses or a face shield. Eye protection is recommended for
operators and passengers of motorcycles equipped with a windshield. Eyes can
be easily damaged by debris and bugs, that’s why it’s important to protect your
vision and your safety with a face shield that protects your whole face.
Eyeglasses are not made to protect riders. They will shatter if hit by a flying
object. If you wear glasses, also use a face shield.
To be effective, eye or face protection must:
• be free of scratches
• be made of material that doesn’t shatter
• give a clear view to either side
• fasten securely so that it can’t be blown off
• allow some air to pass through so it won’t fog
• allow enough room for eyeglasses or sunglasses, if needed
Tinted goggles or face shields should not be worn at night.
Protective Clothing
Clothing can help protect you against injury in case of a fall and is required for
proper visibility – wear bright clothing and a vest.
Jacket and pants should cover your arms and legs completely. They should fit
snugly enough so they don’t flap and yet let you move freely. Wear a jacket even
in warm weather. Leather is best. Nylon, vinyl and other sturdy synthetic materials
offer some protection against wind and bugs. However, in a crash, synthetic
materials will stick to the skin when skidding on grass or pavement. Riders in the
Motorcycle Graduated Driver Licensing (MGDL) program and their passengers
will be required to have their arms and legs covered.
In cold or wet weather, your clothes should keep you warm and dry, as well as
protect you against injury. You can’t properly control a motorcycle if you are numb.
Riding for long periods in cold weather can cause severe chill and fatigue. A
winter jacket should resist wind and fit snugly at the neck, wrists and waist. Rain
suits should be of good quality, and be designed for riding. Those that are not
designed for motorcyclists may balloon up or tear apart at highway speeds.
Boots or shoes should be sturdy and high enough to protect the ankles.
Motorcycle operators in the MGDL program and passengers of operators in the
Novice 2 stage of the MGDL program must wear ankle-covering boots while
riding a motorcycle. Soles should be made of hard, durable material. Heels
should be low so they don’t catch on rough surfaces. Don’t wear shoes with rings
or loose laces that may catch on controls.
Gloves are also important. They give you a better hold on the handle grips and
controls. Gauntlet gloves are recommended because they provide protection not
only to fingers and knuckles, but also to wrists in case of an accident. Motorcycle
operators in the MGDL program and passengers of operators in the Novice
2 stage of the MGDL program must wear hand-covering gloves while riding a
Know your motorcycle controls
The beauty of motorcycle design is that all controls and other important devices
are within quick reach of the rider’s hands and feet. All drivers should know where
the controls are and will be tested on their knowledge in the exam. For example,
18 key controls and devices are visible from the saddle of a typical motorcycle:
1. Speedometer and odometer
2. Tripmeter
3. Tachometer
4. Light switches
5. Ignition switch
6. Turn signal switch(es)
7. Horn button
8. Fuel supply valve
9. Choke control
10. Throttle
11. Clutch lever
12. Front brake lever
13. Rear brake pedal
14. Gear selector pedal
15. Starter
16. Engine kill switch
17. Stand
18. Oil level window or dip stick
It is important to become familiar with the motorcycle’s controls, whether you’re
learning to ride or you’re an experienced rider driving an unfamiliar motorcycle.
­­­ fact, you should first check that the motorcycle isn’t too heavy or too large for
you to operate comfortably. When sitting on the seat, you should be able to place
your feet flat on the ground.
The same controls may not be found in the same places on all motorcycles.
Check your owner’s manual for the exact location and precise way to operate
all controls and devices. The first step in learning to ride a motorcycle is to learn
the controls used to operate the machine. You must be able to reach any control
without looking for it. With practice, you will be able to operate all controls by
reflex. Automatic response is required before you can venture out into traffic.
The following instruments are grouped in the centre of the handle­bars on most
• The speedometer indicates riding speed in kilometres per hour or miles per
• The odometer indicates total kilometres or miles accumulated on the
• The tripmeter indicates kilometres or miles accumulated since the last time it
was set at zero.
• The tachometer indicates engine speed in revolutions per minute (rpm) and
shows with a red line the maximum rpm the engine can safely attain.
• The high beam indicator light appears red or blue when the headlight is on high
• The neutral indicator light appears green when the transmission is in neutral.
• The turn signal indicator light flashes amber when either left or right signals are
Ignition switch
The ignition key goes into the ignition switch located near the centre of the
handlebars or below one side of the fuel tank. ON and OFF positions are
standard. Some switches also have LIGHTS and PARK positions. When the
ignition is on, the engine can be started in either the ON or LIGHTS position.
The LIGHTS position turns on the headlight and the tail light. The PARK position
turns on only the tail light. The key can be removed only in the OFF or PARK
Light switches
If the ignition switch does not have a LIGHTS position, your motorcycle will have
a separate switch with which to turn on the headlight and tail light. On all newer
motorcycles, the headlight and tail light come on automatically when the ignition
is switched on and the engine is running.
A dimmer switch, generally located on the left handlebar and operated by the left
thumb, can be used to set the headlight on low or high beam.
Turn signal switch
The switch to control turn signals is usually located on the left handlebar and is
controlled with the left thumb. Move the switch right to ‘R’ to flash the right turn
signal lights. Move it left to ‘L’ to flash the left signal lights.
Most motorcycle turn signals do not self-cancel after a turn, as an automobile’s
do. You must cancel the signal after each turn or lane change. Failure to cancel a
turn signal is as dangerous as not signalling in the first place.
Brake light
The brake light is located on the rear fender and is activated when either the front
or rear brake is applied.
Horn button
Sound the horn by pushing the horn button located on the left handlebar with
your left thumb.
Fuel supply valve
The fuel supply valve is a petcock located below the fuel tank. It controls the flow
of gasoline to the engine. When the motorcycle is not in use, the valve should
always be turned to the OFF position to eliminate the possibility of fuel leaking
into the crankcases or creating a fire hazard.
The valve must be turned to the ON position on many bikes for fuel to flow to
the engine and for it to start and run. The fuel tank has a reserve section in case
the main section runs dry. To release the reserve supply, you must turn the valve
to RESERVE or RES, something you should be able to do while riding your
Choke control
The choke adjusts the mixture of gasoline and air supplied to the engine and
usually is used only when starting a cold engine. The choke control is located on
the engine or at the handlebars. To start a cold engine, move the choke control to
the ON position and start the motorcycle. When the engine is warm, return the
choke control to the OFF position.
The right handle grip is the throttle that controls the flow of gasoline to the engine
and thus the speed of the engine and, ultimately, the speed of the motorcycle.
To increase speed, rotate the throttle toward you with your right hand. To reduce
speed, twist the throttle away from you. The throttle must spring back to the idle
position if you remove your hand.
Clutch lever
The clutch lever is located in front of the left handlebar and is operated when
squeezed toward the handle grip with the fingers of the left hand. Squeezing
the lever disengages the clutch and disconnects the engine power from the rear
wheel. Releasing the lever engages the clutch and provides power to the rear
wheel. Whenever you change gears, either up or down, you must first disengage
the clutch.
Front brake lever
Apply the front wheel brake by squeezing the lever on the right handlebar toward
the handle grip with the fingers of your right hand.
Rear brake pedal
Activate the rear wheel brake by pressing your right foot on the pedal located in
front of the right footrest (on most bikes). Remember that the right hand controls
the front brake while the right foot controls the rear brake. They should be used
together. The engine of your motorcycle will also act as a brake when you gear
down or reduce throttle.
Gear shift
The gear selector pedal is located on the left side on most motorcycles just
ahead of the footrest. You shift gears by lifting or depressing the pedal with your
left toe.
Most motorcycles have four or five gears and a neutral position. In neutral, the
transmission is out of gear and power will not reach the rear wheel.
The gear selector pedal should only be operated while the clutch is disengaged.
After you have squeezed the clutch lever with your left hand, you can select the
gear you need by lifting or depressing the gear selector pedal with your left toe.
Most motorcycles have an electric starter operated by pushing the starter button
on the right handlebar.
Many bikes still have a kick starter, usually located above the right footrest. It must
be unfolded before it can be used to start the motorcycle with a vigorous kick.
Engine-kill switch
The engine-kill switch is located on the right handlebar and is usually red. It is
used in an emergency to stop the engine quickly. It may also be used to turn off
the engine after a normal stop, but be sure to turn off the ignition switch as well
after using the kill switch.
The engine will not start when the kill switch is in the OFF position.
When motorcycles are parked, they are supported by either a side stand or a
centre stand. Some models may have both.
A side stand extends downward from its position underneath the motorcycle to
support the motorcycle in a leaned position.
A centre stand is a sturdy, two-legged stand attached under­neath the centre of
the motorcycle frame. It can support the motorcycle in an upright position.
Stands are held in their retracted position by spring mechanisms and lowered for
use by the rider’s foot.
Make sure your stand is retracted before you start off.
Daily motorcycle check
With a little experience, you will become familiar with the motor­cycle controls.
If there’s anything wrong with the motorcycle, the time to find out about it is
before you are in traffic.
Here are the things you should check before every ride. Take a look at the critical
parts of your bike before starting out.
You have only two tires so you must keep them in good condition. Check for:
The motorcycle does not handle properly if the air pressure is too low or too
high. Check the owner’s manual for the right amount of air.
Worn or uneven tread can affect the handling of the motorcycle, particularly on
wet pavement. Once the centre wear bar is exposed, you have minimal tread
left. The tire must be replaced.
Check for cuts or nails stuck in the tread. Also, check the sidewalls for cracks.
A blowout on a motorcycle can be extremely dangerous.
The controls are mounted on the handlebars. Make sure your controls work
before you start out.
Try the front and rear brakes one at a time. Make sure each one holds the
motorcycle when it is fully applied.
Clutch and throttle
Make sure the controls work smoothly. The throttle should snap back when you
let go.
Check the cables for kinks or broken strands. If a cable breaks while you are
riding, it could cause a crash.
Don’t put your faith in lights that may not work. Keep them clean and check them
Turn signals
Check all four turn signal lights. Make sure they flash when they are turned on
and are bright enough to be seen.
Check your headlight. In daytime, pass your hand in front of the beam to make
sure the headlight is really on. Try your dimmer switch to make sure both high and
low beams work.
Tail and brake light
Try each of your brake controls and make sure that each one activates your brake
Try the horn to be sure it will work if you need it!
Gas and oil
Check gas and oil levels before you start. Running out of gas is inconvenient, and
can also be dangerous if it happens where you cannot get off the road quickly.
You can check the oil through the oil level window or on your dip stick.
Lack of oil can cause your engine to seize. This could lock the rear wheel and
make you lose control.
Clean and adjust both mirrors before you start. It is difficult – and dangerous – to
ride with one hand while you adjust a mirror.
Swing your mirrors out far enough to see around your body. Adjust each mirror to
show half the lane behind you and as much as possible of the lane beside you.
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