Harley-Davidson® Motorcycle Ownership Tips

John Elway Harley-Davidson® Motorcycle Ownership

Desire... Necessity... Reality!

So, you've got the desire. You know that you just won't be happy until you own that motorcycle. Now, there are several considerations that are a necessity. This page is a point of reference for finding answers to your most frequently asked questions about motorcycle ownership. Cruise through these like a checklist, then cruise off into the sunset! Happy riding!

Learning & Legalities

Motorcycle License

In order to legally operate your motorcycle, you must obtain an endorsement for your driver's license. Prior to being granted a motorcycle endorsement, you will be issued a temporary permit. You may still apply for a permit even if you don't have a driver's license, beginning at age 16. If you are under the age of 18, you must drive with your permit for one year, during which time a licensed driver must always drive next to you or behind you.

Motorcycle Insurance Tips

If your motorcycle is financed, you absolutely must have insurance in place before the bike can leave the dealership. If you pay cash, you may take the bike from our premises but are required by state law to insure it before operating.

Motorcycle insurance rates can be reduced in many ways. First is the number of years of experience you have had on motorcycles. Second is the number of riding safety classes you've taken and how current they are. A third way to lower your rate is through membership in riding groups/organizations. Finally, your rate is drastically affected by the type of bike you drive. Sport bikes carry much higher rates than cruisers.

When obtaining bike insurance, be aware that many companies require the bike to be garaged when not in use, and they often prefer that it is stored at a property where you live or own the premises.

Due to the inherent risk factors associated with motorcycle operations, you should consider medical coverage through your insurance provider, as well as towing coverage in the event your bike is inoperable.


It is an excellent idea to take a motorcycle class. There are many available around the state, and we offer an excellent course called Rider's Edge right here at the dealership. Click here to access additional information. Keep in mind that if you take our course, at the price of $349, and buy your bike from us, we will reimburse you $100 of the class cost!

Riding safety

Your safety is truly your responsibility. Here at John Elway Harley-Davidson® we care about our riders and want to share with you some great tips on staying safe. There is a lot more to riding safely than you might think. Even seasoned riders who have thousands of miles under their belt can benefit from remembering these tips, adapted from the Harley-Davidson® website.


One of the greatest disadvantages motorcycles have is that they are far less visible than cars. Use the following advice to increase your visibility.

  • Clothing - Black has long been a popular fashion choice among riders, but sometimes dark colors can be hard to see. If bright, highly visible clothing does not suit your taste, consider adding a few well-placed pieces of reflective tape to your gear, especially at night.
  • Signals - Make sure your turn signals are working properly, and use them! In addition, consider using hand signals in situations where you want to make absolutely sure a driver knows your intentions.
  • Brake light - If you want to make sure the driver behind you knows what you're intentions are, consider flashing your brake light as you prepare to stop.
  • Horn - Use your horn to help draw attention to yourself when necessary, but don't rely on it solely.


Maintaining the proper lane position is a crucial part of an effective street strategy.

  • Space - Maintain a space cushion on all sides of your motorcycle. This helps provide adequate reaction time if evasive maneuvers are necessary. It also helps create an "escape route".
  • Lane Placement - In general, when riding alone on a straight road most people prefer to ride in the left third of the lane. It provides you with the best line of sight for the road ahead and makes you most visible to oncoming traffic. However, always be prepared to make adjustments based on road conditions and traffic patterns.
  • Following Distance - Always leave a minimum of two seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you. The ideal following distance will vary depending on road conditions and other factors.

S.E.E. (Search, Evaluate, Execute):

Recently, the MSF introduced a simplified version of the mental process for making judgments and taking action in traffic.

  • Search - As you ride, scan the area aggressively, including the areas along the road and behind you. Check your mirrors frequently to maintain a constant awareness of your surroundings.
  • Evaluate - Use that information to evaluate the situation, predict what unexpected hazards and challenges may arise, and actively formulate strategies to deal with them.
  • Execute - Adjust your speed and positioning accordingly, while communicating your intentions to others.

Staying sharp

For some, knowing your skill limits may mean keeping your bike at home when the weather is threatening. For others, it may mean choosing a route that avoids congested areas or timing your departure to avoid rush hour traffic. It all depends on your own skill, and understanding that it takes years to be fully proficient. Ride only in conditions where you can be sure of your abilities. There are some rules that apply to all riders, no matter the skill level. Riding in an overly aggressive manner is never acceptable. There's no excuse for jeopardizing others by pushing your limits on the street. Riding while tired is another risk that no rider should take. When you're tired, your reflexes are slowed and your judgment is not as strong - a combination that no motorcycle rider can afford. Also be sure to take phone calls or consult maps from the side of the road, not the driver's seat.

Alcohol limits:

There's no plainer way to say it, riding a motorcycle when you're not in complete control of your mental faculties is not smart! Using alcohol (even a small amount) or other drugs (including certain prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines) can have a deadly effect on your ride. Data collected by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation shows that almost 40 percent of riders killed in motorcycle accidents had been drinking. Only about one-third of those were considered legally intoxicated. The rest, though below the legal limit, had consumed enough alcohol to diminish their skills and impair their judgment - which ended up costing them their lives! Remember that time, and time alone, allows your body to eliminate alcohol from your system. Remember that "just one drink" easily becomes "just one more". Remember that if alcohol is going to be involved in any way, shape, or form, leave your bike out of your plans.

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