Albertans love their motorbikes, and it’s easy to understand why. We have an adventurous spirit, thousands of kilometres of open roads, and some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Just a few of the great Alberta rides include the historic Cowboy Trail, the Crowsnest Pass, and, of course, tours through the famous Banff and Jasper National Parks alongside the incredible Rocky Mountains.
Although practically the definition of freedom, highway rides for motorcyclists come with their own particular sets of perils, however. An accident on a bike can be devastating, so being alert for dangers at all times is imperative.
Before taking off on any journey, always ensure your bike is in good repair. Carry an extra tube or a patch kit for your tires, and pack along an essential toolkit plus emergency supplies. Always keep someone advised of your itinerary and progress, but take care to not post too much to public to not alert anyone to the fact that you are not home or give away your exact location.
Top five highway hazards for motorcyclists
Alberta has a way of throwing just about every road condition at drivers with little to no warning, but what is a minor nuisance to a car driver is potentially deadly motorcyclists. Be alert, stay within the speed limit, and drive in the centre of the lane as much as possible.
Animals. Alberta is home to tons of wildlife that don’t pay much attention to the rules of the road. Wildlife Crossing signs warn drivers of areas where animals tend to cross, so these are good initial indicators to heighten awareness. If animals do run out into the road in front of you, brake firmly and calmly and stay in your lane. Attempting to swerve could cause you to lose control of your bike and place you and other drivers in further jeopardy. Animals tend to move around the most at dawn and sundown, so be extra cautious during these times.
Gravel. Navigating gravel is extremely difficult for motorcyclists. The best way to avoid gravel is to stay away from curbs and right-hand lanes where gravel tends to accumulate. Experts advise when coming across gravel to not fight to steer, keep your bike at upright as possible (do not lean), and avoid sudden braking, swerving, or accelerating. Keep your eyes up and looking towards where you want to go.
Potholes. Potholes form when water gets underneath pavement and freezes, expands, and then melts. Hitting one hard can cause a motorbike to tip in the worst scenario. Even the best scenarios include a punctured tire, bent rim, damaged suspension, scratches, dents, and so on. The best thing to do is to avoid potholes by watching well ahead on the road, but sometimes they can’t be missed. If you hit a pothole, keep your bike straight and your elbows and grip loose to allow the suspension to (hopefully) absorb most of the shock. If there has been roadwork going on, pay extra attention for potholes.
Rough roads. Even Alberta’s main highways can be lumpy, bumpy, and full of ridges and rolls. The centre of lanes tends to be a better place for motorbikes to be, as they are relatively free of the damage caused by four-wheeled vehicles. If you have to cross over a severely rutted or bumpy road, try to approach the hazard at as much of an angle as possible so that you are attacking more straight-on rather than alongside. This gives the hazard less time to catch your tires and throw you off direction.
Wet and slippery roads. It’s not advisable for any motorcyclist – even those with tons of experience – to ride when it’s raining or while still wet. There are the road conditions to deal with, plus other drivers splashing puddles and creating drafts. It’s far too easy to slip or hydroplane, so it’s better to simply not risk it.
The basics of motorcycle insurance
Even though motorcyclists are only able to ride their bikes for a few of the warmer months, year-round coverage is required for your bike. All motorcycle insurance is continuous, so you’re free to take advantage of a warm December Chinook. Generally, the motorcycle insurance policies we recommend offer the option to pay monthly or yearly. We can understand the urge to avoid a larger single payment in favour of several smaller ones. However, in many cases insurance companies provide once-yearly policy holders a slight break on their quotes, as fewer payments helps them save on administration costs.
As with regular car insurance, motorcycle insurance comes with mandatory liability coverage as well as your choice between comprehensive or collision coverage. Comprehensive coverage provides for repairs for damage caused to your motorcycle by perils such as vandalism, fire, theft, and weather incidents that couldn’t be avoided.
All motorcycle insurance companies cover for damage to another vehicle in an accident. However collision insurance will pays for damage to your own vehicle in an accident. Whether you choose collision or comprehensive coverage for your motorcycle insurance tends to depend on the age and condition of your bike. If extensive repairs after an accident are not financially feasible to you, consider collision insurance.
Factors that affect your motorcycle insurance rates include:
- Age. Studies show younger drivers to be higher-risk.
- Experience. If you have ridden a bike for several years with no incidents, you should see lower insurance premiums. If not, you should contact an insurance broker.
- Type of bike. Motorcycles with greater value will require higher premiums.
- Your location and security. Those who are able to store their bikes in safe locations will be rewarded with lower motorcycle insurance premiums.
Don’t forget that you don’t have to wait for renewal time to shop around for motorcycle insurance options. It’s never a bad idea to access the experience of an insurance broker such as those of us at Lane’s. We provide personalized service and work to meet all of your insurance needs while still providing excellent rates. Contact us at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff, and Alberta offices