The thrill of a motorcycle is incomparable to any other kind of delight in this world. The open air, the freedom, the heart-pounding speed – nothing feels quite like it. When the weather warms up in Ontario, more and more people are beginning to choose to get their bikes out of storage or purchase one brand new. But there’s a few things you need to know as a first-time motorcyclist in Ontario.

Though it’s not one of our tips listed here, make sure to acquire motorcycle insurance. Ontario motorcycle veterans would know that it’s illegal to operate a motorized vehicle on public roadways without insurance, even if it isn’t your classic car. You can get a motorcycle insurance quote by searching online or going through a reputable brokerage.

Be mindful that not everyone will see you as easily on the road.

The most dangerous thing about riding a motorcycle is that not everyone knows how to drive with a motorcycle on the road. Unfortunately, motorcyclists see a high rate of severe injuries and even fatalities because drivers simply aren’t paying attention to them. Motorcycles are smaller and often not treated with the same dignity as other vehicles.

As a motorcyclist, look where you’re going and be wary of other drivers. Give them a respectable distance and be mindful of other drivers when their signal light is on in case they come into your lane without seeing you. They may not see you in the adjacent lane. You’ll also want to be wary of corners. Look through corners, not down at the ground in the middle.

Turn your choke off.

You might forget to do this once or twice, so don’t panic. If you’re new to biking, it’ll happen. You’ll want to ensure it’s turned on to prime your engine, especially if it’s been sitting out in the cold for a few months, but to turn it off is another thing to remember. Leaving it on means running your bike unnecessarily, which wastes gas and can cause problems later down the line.

Do a pre-ride inspection.

Motorcycles are powered one of three ways: shaft-driven, belt-driven, or chain-driven. Different styles of motorcycles may require more attention and maintenance than others. If you’re riding a bike, it’s the shaft, the belt, or the chain that keeps it moving. Shaft-driven bike are easy to notice if they’re broken, but you’ll want to check your chain and belt regularly – each time you plan to head out. If they’re improperly adjusted or even starting to wear, they can break – and you’ll have to walk home.

Get the right riding gear.

As cool as it looks, your denim jean jacket will do nothing to protect you in the event of a crash. Even if you just tip over during your ride, you’ll probably get some serious bumps and bruises. If you’re a serious or long-time rider, you’ve probably gone down at some point – or you will eventually. You’ll want to choose the correct armored gear to protect yourself when and if you do fall. Road rash can be painful, and in more serious accidents, it can rake off a considerable amount of your skin. Try Kevlar-reinforced jeans. Armored pants are the best decision but they can be expensive and touch to find. Leather or textile gloves and jackets are also a good addition. The added benefit of all these is they look really cool, so “appearance” is not something you’ll have to sacrifice. There’s a wide variety of styles to choose from. Make sure goggles and helmets are included in your gear.

Speaking of clothing – dress in layers. The temperature, especially in Ontario, can change fast, and not to mention the fact that you’ll be out on the highway having wind blasted in your face, which can make the temperature feel 10 degrees colder than it actually is.

Know the local laws for motorcycles.

This should go without saying, but know the rules of the road! Each province may have different regulations around motorcyclists, and some provinces will require you to wear specific gear. Some provinces have requirements for only youths to wear specific gear. Some gear that may be required includes helmets, eye protection, etc. Some provinces and areas may also require you to equip your bike with mirrors. If you have a left and right mirror plus low beam, high beam, and turn signals, you’re probably all set. When purchasing a bike, keep requirements in mind!