Staying safe on your motorcycle is one of the main concerns for any new rider. If you’re just starting out on two wheels or perhaps have been riding for a number of years and want a recap of how to stay safe, here are some of our top tips to decrease the risk in your riding...
Get yourself properly trained
Motorcycles aren’t inherently dangerous, but it is the people riding them who can be. Getting properly trained, whether it’s your first time learning to ride at your CBT training or taking your full motorcycle licence is a huge factor in how safe you’ll be on the roads. It’s not just about learning to pass a test, but really getting to grips with the theory and skill of riding safely on the roads. Something any well-respected training school should teach you.
Get the proper gear (and wear it)
When you think about it in simple terms, would you rather slide down a motorway at 70mph on your backside in a pair of tracksuit bottoms or leather trousers? It’s obvious which is the better choice, however a lot of riders are guilty of kidding themselves it won’t happen to them, or they’re ‘only popping down the road’.
While the only legal requirement is to be wearing a motorcycle helmet, today there’s no excuse not to be wearing the proper kit. With a plethora of casual-style bike jeans, jackets, gloves, and boots which all look at home both on the bike or in the pub with your mates. Get properly covered up and make it a habit, regardless of what you ride. Some of the best advice I got as a new rider: “dress for the slide, not the ride”, 40mph hurts, regardless if you’re riding a moped or 1,000cc sports bike.
Be seen to be safe
As well as wearing the proper gear, make sure you can be seen. This means high-vis and/or colourful clothing. The black-on-black look might be slick, but it’s not going to keep you safe. With high visibility belts costing less than £20 and weighing next to nothing, you won’t even notice you’re wearing one. Being seen is one of the most important parts of staying safe on a motorcycle. Consider this when you’re choosing the colour of your helmet, bike, and gear.
Road positioning: Choose your lane wisely
One of the key things you develop as a rider (especially if you take any further training), is road positioning. Depending on which part of the lane you ride in can have a huge impact on whether or not a car pulling out of a junction sees you, or being able to avoid a lorry on the wrong side of the road. There is quite a bit of theory that goes into it, so I would recommend starting by watching a few YouTube videos and looking further into training courses.
Check your bike before you ride
Checking your bike is such a fundamentally important thing to do, yet a lot of riders forget to do it before they ride. You can be the best rider in the world, but in the event that your brakes fail or the wheels blow, you are in trouble.
A quick check of the wheels, brakes, chain and controls before each ride is a simple but impactful habit to keep up. Read your owner's manual and familiarize yourself with what ‘good looks like’. Every rider should have a good basic understanding of looking after their bike.
Ride your own ride
Especially true for young and new riders. Riding with mates is one of the best things about biking, but it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and make mistakes. Keep confident in yourself to always ride in a way that’s within your ability, experience, and bike capability. Try and match the people you ride with to have similar experiences, bikes and approaches to riding. If you’re not sure a rider’s approach to riding fits with yours then ride on your own.
Anticipate others by staying alert
Anticipation is another key skill you will build up the longer you ride, it is what makes us better car drivers too. However, this is a skill that can always be worked on and is key to remaining safe on your bike. When I commute to London on my CB400 it’s especially important. Riding with the mindset that everyone is out to kill you might sound a bit extreme but honestly, it’s the best way to stay alert. You should always be looking for potential risks and go on the assumption the worse is going to happen. See a car edging out of a junction; presume they won’t see you, and you’ll naturally slow down, giving yourself more time if they decide to make a bad decision. This mindset is one of the best ways you can keep yourself alert and safe on your motorcycle.
Plan your journey in advance
Specifically, based on the experience you have as a rider and the bike you ride. If you’re a new rider and on a 50cc or 125cc scooter, you’re going to want to avoid dual carriageways and busy main roads. You’re by all means entitled to ride them, but in my experience, it’s not very pleasant!
Scooters were built to cruise around city streets below 40 mph, for this they are perfect. You’ll know from experience what type of roads you feel comfortable riding on, so plan accordingly.
A handy tip for riders on CBT licences; you can set in Google Maps to avoid motorways when you’re planning your route. This will give you peace of mind you're not going to accidentally end up riding your moped down the M25!
Check the weather forecast
Wind, snow, and rain can all compromise your visibility when riding.
Before you head out, check the weather and make sure you are not only prepared but protected for the weather conditions you are about to be faced with. However, if the weather conditions are severe, nothing is worth risking your life over, so leave the bike at home…
For more on ding in the colder weather, head over to our handy guides:
- Winter Motorcycling: Preparing for the Colder Months
- Winter motorcycle & scooter gear for cold weather rides
- Top Winter Motorcycle Tyres
Get more training!
I’ve been riding myself for around 3 years. Like any new rider or driver for that matter, once you’ve got your licence you feel on top of the world and think you have all the answers.
Taking further training such as Bike Safe or the Enhanced Rider Scheme is truly eye-opening to realise how learning to ride a motorcycle is much more like learning a language than just a tick box exercise. Every day you ride is a chance to gain more experience and further develop your riding skills and ability.
For more on advanced training check out our Advanced Motorcycle Training - The Best Rider Courses in the UK article!
RideTo is making it safer and easier to experience the joy of riding a motorcycle. We’re the UK’s fastest-growing platform for new riders to find the best training, bikes and gear supported with expert advice.
The last stop!
So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading some of our top tips to keep you safe when out and about on your motorcycle.
Another way in which you can protect yourself while riding is by having the correct insurance. If you have your very own motorcycle you need to insure - make sure to get a motorcycle insurance quote directly with Lexham!