No one likes to think about them, but the sad fact is that a lot of riders will crash at some point. From a minor stupid tipover in front of wherever you live to a major off in traffic or at a track day—it happens to so many of us. How do you get back on your bike after a crash? Should you? How do you talk to your loved ones about what happened?
The thing about all of these questions and answers is that they’re going to look different for every rider, and in every situation. Ultimately, you’re the only one who can answer them to your satisfaction. The most important thing you can do when assessing anything to do with a crash is to be honest with yourself. If you’re nervous, that’s natural. You can work with that, and also work through it. Hopefully, with time and distance, you can take your analysis of what caused your crash to make your future riding better.
There’s no perfect amount of time to wait, and certainly no one-size-fits-all approach to how long it will take you to feel comfortable and confident on your bike again. If you’re like me, dealing with concrete, practical matters can help you process what just happened and get to a headspace where you feel good about riding again.
I’m talking about things like replacing your crashed gear, or maybe getting your bike checked by a professional if your crash was bad. Or even shopping for new cosmetic parts if it was just a minor low-side. Those are all things that can help you feel like you’re in control of the situation. That can be extremely helpful after totally losing any sense of control for the duration of your crash. Plus, quite simply, it needs to be done.
As a rider who has crashed, and one who has also been involved with another rider who crashed badly enough to end up in the hospital, I’m here to tell you that we’re lucky we have each other. Not all your loved ones will totally understand why you love riding—or why you want to get back on after a crash. If you find yourself involved with another rider, that shorthand is definitely helpful in a crash situation. Seeing someone you care about get hurt is never a good time. Be honest, communicate well, and try to be sympathetic if you can.
You’re the only person who knows when is the right time to get back on a bike. Maybe you need to change motorcycle styles or other aspects of how you ride. Give yourself permission to do that, and don’t push yourself too hard if you’re not ready. If you get superstitious for awhile about that intersection where you crashed, don’t let anyone talk you out of that ten-minute detour you take to avoid it. You might change your mind one day, and that’s cool, too—but only you will know when it’s time to take that route again.