Who knew motorcycle riding in Mexico could be so much fun? -Tom White
Many riders are surprised by how good the motorcycle riding in Mexico is. We all know Mexico is a great country for overland travel. It’s got a well-developed highway system and wonderful cities and places to visit throughout the country.
Motorists and truckers mostly like motorcyclists and think you’re cool! Treating them with mutual respect makes for a more pleasurable journey.
Riding a motorcycle is different from riding in the USA or Canada. Americans and Canadians are sticklers for rules and right-of-way. In Mexico, driving priority is primarily based on who is bigger and who is there first.
While not exhaustive, these secrets will enhance your journey and increase the number of friends you make.
- Wave to military vehicles, truckers, children in cars, drivers when you pass them, and of course other motorcyclists. A simple wave or better yet, a peace sign is a perfect way to demonstrate respect and mutual camaraderie. Even wave to cops. You’ll be surprised how often a wave gets you a smile and wave back.
- Passing is an art in Mexico. If you are on a two-lane road and you want to pass, flick on your left-turn blinker. This lets drivers ahead know your intention. They will often pull over to the right a little bit to allow you to pass ahead. If a vehicle wishes to pass you, do the same. Move over to the right and let them.
- When passing trucks, also use your left-turn blinker as you approach and pass. This alerts them you are there and keeps you visible to them. Do this even when you are in the passing lane and they are in the right lane.
- Never pass trucks or vehicles on the right shoulder. This is because it’s the first place they will go to make room for emergency vehicles or to let others pass.
- SLOW DOWN when approaching and within a town or city! This is very important for several reasons. There are often bus stops, gas stations, and topes (speed bumps) as you approach towns. This is also where both Policía Municipal and Policía Federal like to wait with radar guns to catch speeders. Slow it way down.
Pro Tip: Enjoy motorcycle riding in Mexico but don’t skimp on Mexican insurance. Get a Full-Coverage policy from CHUBB Platinum. The amount of coverage is phenomenal including your helmet, gear, and motorcycle accessories.
- If you are at or below half of a tank, fill it up at the next gas station. The next one may be many kilometers down the road.
- Take signs that read ‘Aguas’ and ‘Curva Peligrosa’ seriously. ‘Aguas’ means ‘Heads up’ or ‘Pay Attention.’ Also before many corners that are deemed ‘peligrosa,’ look for rumble strips. These can seriously affect traction and control.
- Be friendly at gas stations. People will come up to you and ask the size of your engine, how much it costs, how fast it goes, and if you like Mexico. These are very typical questions and don’t feel weird about answering them. Smile and be gracious with your answers.
- DO NOT RIDE AT NIGHT. This is a big one. When riding toward the end of the day, hold your hand out with three fingers showing. If the sun is at or below your fingers from the horizon, you have 15-20 minutes to find a place to stay the night. Do not try to continue. Road hazards, livestock, and in some regions, criminal activity become acute at night. Find a hotel and enjoy a good dinner.
- Lane Sharing and lane filtering are OK, and drivers are typically quite good about it. Don’t abuse the privilege drivers give you to pass. Do it safely and discretely. Be sure to wave and thank the drivers who make room for you.
- Drink about half a liter of water every time you stop. Many riders crash and suffer significant injuries and sometimes fatalities due to dehydration. A simple way to tell if you are properly hydrated is that you need to use the restroom at each stop and your urine is a light color. The darker it is, the more dehydrated you are.
- If you see a rider on the side of the road or a motorist in need, stop if it is safe, to offer help. There may not be mobile reception, and you may be the angel of the day. They will stop for you if you are in trouble, too.
- When motorcycle riding in Mexico, keep your chin up and always scan in the distance. Look for hazards, errant drivers, debris, accidents, and animals. Doing so will give you plenty of time to take evasive action and not become a bigger problem. Be careful not to daydream when riding.
- If you have them, flash your emergency lights to let other drivers or riders know of oncoming hazards or sudden stops. Flashing your brake light also works to alert drivers.
- In windy curving roads and especially blind corners, take it easy and stay to the right. Large vehicles including buses and trucks will take those corners wide. Give yourself plenty of time and options to remain safe and happy.
Again, this is not an exhaustive list, but this should give you an excellent primer on riding safely and enjoyably in Mexico.