Hobbies Cars & Motorcycles 10 Ways to Avoid Looking Like a Squid Share PINTEREST Email Print Cars & Motorcycles Motorcycles Motorcycle History Buying & Selling Restoration & Repairs Cars Used Cars SUVs Trucks ATVs & Off Road Public Transportation By Basem Wasef Basem Wasef is the author of "Legendary Motorcycles" and "Legendary Race Cars." His work has appeared in Autoblog, Men's Journal, Robb Report, and Wired. our editorial process Basem Wasef Updated May 16, 2017 01 of 10 Tip #1: Your First Bike Should be a Tool, Not a Fashion Accessory Photo © Comstock Bikes are inherently cool— which is one of the many reasons we ride— and we all want to exploit that fact when we're on a motorcycle. But your bike choice— whether you're a first time, intermediate, or advanced rider— should be chosen to make you a better motorcyclist, not make you look like you blew your 401K on a race-ready literbike, a custom paint job, and a matching helmet. Besides, you can always step up to your dream bike after you've cut your teeth on something more manageable. 02 of 10 Save Bare Skin for Bikini Models Photo © Comstock Images One of the telltale ways to spot a squid a mile away is their blatant disregard for safety gear and their decision to wear shorts, flip-flops, and t-shirts; as any experienced rider will tell you, it's not yourself you want to look out for, it's other people on the road. Grab a DOT-approved helmet, a solid jacket, gloves, and boots; if anything, going to the trouble of gearing up just might uphold Murphy's Law and ensure you keep the rubber side down. 03 of 10 Turn Off That Blinker! Photo © Basem Wasef Veteran riders can be just as guilty of this visual (and potential safety) offense as newbies. Unless your bike's equipped with self-cancelling signals, switch your blinkers off after you've completed your turn or changed lanes. Nobody, especially a new rider, wants the look like a blue-haired permablinker. 04 of 10 Batten Down the Hatches Photo © Basem Wasef Saddlebags can be lifesavers when it comes to carrying cargo. But if they're not fastened properly, they can end up bouncing across the highway like a pinball. Learn how your saddlebag latches lock into place and give them a good shakedown before starting your ride—otherwise, you might not be the only thing hitting the road. 05 of 10 Get to Know Your Kickstand Photo © Basem Wasef Kickstands are squirrelly little contraptions. Their spring-loaded mechanisms can make them trickier to operate than you might think, and if they're not completely deployed, all it takes is a light graze of a boot to quietly load them back into a stowed position. Few things are as disconcerting as the slow-motion horizontal parking maneuver, and making sure your kickstand is all the way down will help you avoid that fate. 06 of 10 Resist the Urge to Showboat Photo © Getty Images Adrenaline's pumping, the engine is eager, and the light just turned green. You may be tempted to pound the throttle, drop the clutch and wheelie your way through the next quarter mile, but don’t get suckered into showing off your misguided motorcycle prowess; chances are you don't have the chops to pull off that mind-blowing maneuver, especially if you're a new rider. Resist the urge to impersonate pros like Jason Britton, and you'll save yourself the dishonor of looking like a chump. 07 of 10 Work on Getting Slow Speed Maneuvers Right Photo © Basem Wasef Going fast is easy; it's slow speed maneuvers that take serious skill. Practice parking lot drills like figure 8's and slaloms, and you'll sharpen your balance and bike control, which will eventually help you become better at more delicate moves like u-turns. A squid focuses only on speed, while a serious motorcyclist can make an 800-pound bike move with the grace of a bicycle. 08 of 10 Focus, Grasshopper Photo © Jacob's Stock Your early experiences aboard a motorcycle usually involve a boatload of distracted thoughts: "Which one's the clutch again? Did I leave my blinker on? Am I going to die today?" Manage your mindcloud and think like a Buddhist monk by breathing calmly and focusing on only the purest essentials; practice this discipline enough, and everything else will fall into place. 09 of 10 Don't Be a Jerk Photo © Karl Weatherly A squid gives himself (or herself) away by grabbing the front brake and making the fork dive, yanking the throttle and lurching ahead, and taking a turn by cutting four imaginary apexes when only one is necessary. Learn the art of smooth controls, and you'll up your cool quotient exponentially while also becoming a better rider. Related: How to Brake on a Motorcycle, How to Shift on a Motorcycle 10 of 10 Ride Within Your Limits Photo © Getty Images This relates to the "No showboating" tip but applies towards the general dynamics of everyday riding. Cross the line, and the consequences usually aren't pretty; learn how to master proper braking, smooth shifting, and speed management, and you'll soon taste the sweet challenge of becoming a better, more controlled, and ultimately safer rider.