So there you are – you passed your MOD 2 test – at last you can ride the bike you want! Well done! Just don't forget to keep on top of these 5 bad habits when you're out on the road.
A Bit About Jan
Jan has been a motorcycle instructor for over 10 years and counting, and she's been riding bikes even longer - since she was 16! Her latest achievement is passing her Advanced Motorcycle Test with ROSPA, and gaining the highest Gold Standard!
Her love for all things bike means she is always seeking ways to improve and expand her already diverse knowledge, riding anything and everything, whether that's a 50cc moped or her beloved Triumph Street Triple 675.
New Rider or Veteran Rider - It's All the Same!
Off you go, out with your mates, visiting a few bike shows, possibly a trip to the coast and a bag of chips… yummy… Then the short British summer is over. Away goes your bike all prepared for winter storage. The long dark nights drag on and the first bright spring day appears; the urge to get the bike ready for riding again is on your mind.
Yes! Spring has sprung, bike out, rally your mates and off you go again.
This is when many people get that surge of adrenalin and get excited about the ride - and this is also when most motorcycle accidents happen. Before you get back on the bike and see who can overtake the quickest, or who can take a corner at the most acute angle and speed, just take a minute and think back to your training.
What are these 5 bad habits that us riders may need to keep on top of? Especially after just passing your test...
Cornering - Slow in, Fast out?
Corners are fun! But… if you need to brake, do it before the corner. On the corner itself, either maintain or gradually increase your speed on the exit. Harsh braking during a turn can make you end up on the wrong side of the road, or be at risk of sliding on say, wet leaves for example.
Remember to use your counter steering, relax the arms and look as far ahead as you possibly can. Look for the ‘vanishing point’ or ‘limit’ ahead of you. Then enjoy.
Observations - What's a Lifesaver again?
Everyone thinks the amount of observations you are taught are just to get you through the Module 1 & 2 test... wrong! Think about it… think about why you do a mirror check, or even more importantly, a lifesaver.
Compared to cars, motorcycles are smaller and a lot more manoeuvrable , so we can use our road position to give us a better view ahead and help keep us safer. But when you change position within your lane or change lanes, you must check the space you are moving into before you move.
Never think you don’t need to do your observations, or that a mirror check will be adequate, or that other road users will be considerate or know what you are going to do. I see a lot of riders do a lifesaver – but they are already changing position! No good.
Check the space before you move or it’s a total waste of time.
Lane Discipline - Stay in Your lane!
Okay. The roundabout you go over twice a day on your way to or from work. Familiar, maybe. Dangerous, always.
Have you ever followed someone (either on your bike or in your car) and on approach to a roundabout you're overtaken, but at the give way lines they draw up next to the vehicle in front? They are both going straight ahead, and the person who has just gone past you decides they can accelerate quickly enough to get past the car on their left on the roundabout, just to beat them to the exit where it becomes single lane? This happens all the time.
If you are going straight on and keep in the left lane (unless indicated otherwise) when you commit to going, please keep left and once you're past the first exit, signal left and immediately do a right lifesaver – you are watching out for the person described above.
A lot of bikers pull away and ‘flat line’ the roundabout, sometimes cutting up another vehicle and trusting their accelerator to get them out of trouble. Okay, but what if the car driver is quicker than you? What if you miss a gear? What if there is diesel on the road? Now you are in trouble. So keep your lane discipline please!
Distance - "Only a Fool Breaks the 2 Second Rule"
Do you know that it takes 2 seconds for your brain to digest a situation and for you to react?
How often do you see someone at a junction and you think they’re going to pull away, you look left and start to move then when you look forward they have changed their mind and haven’t gone? Bang. That’ll hurt. That’s your insurance too as you hit the rear of their vehicle.
You have a lovely big motorcycle beneath you. Keep it back!
On the highway… why sit on the rear of a vehicle? How much can you see?
Why not think about that 2 second rule, use your road position to open up your view, then when safe use your speed to get the job done safely. Remember, ‘Only a fool breaks the 2 second rule’, Don’t be one.
Speed - There's No Need for Excessive Speed
We all love a bit of speed. It’s one of the reasons we love biking. It’s the nearest thing to flying you can get without wings - am I right or what?!
But… there’s a time and a place for speed. Use it to get yourself out of trouble, absolutely. Use it to impress your mates… well…
If you really have a need for excessive speed – go do a track day. You can go as fast as you like there. No points on your licence and more importantly it’s safer!
Keep on top of all of these, and stay safe on the road!
I’m old. Very old. In fact pretty ancient. But I’m still here and loving my biking. I’ve had a go at speedway, track days and done a bit of touring too. I hope to be enjoying life on my bike for quite a few more years yet - but experience has shown me how to do it whilst both enjoying it and staying safe.
Enjoy it too – just take a few minutes before you ride to think about how you ride, and don’t be a statistic please!