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 a number of years and want a recap of how to stay safe, here’s some of our top tips to decrease the risk in your riding.
1. Get properly trained
Our ethos at RideTo is that motorcycles aren’t inherently dangerous, but the people who ride them 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.
2. Get the proper gear (and wear it)
When you think about it 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 in kidding themselves it won’t happen to them, or they’re ‘only popping down the road’. 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 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.
3. Be seen
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 weigh 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.
4. Road positioning
One of the key things you develop as a rider, especially if you take any further training is road positioning. The difference in what part of the lane you ride in can have a huge impact on whether a car pulling out of a junction sees you or being able to avoid a lorry on the wrong side of the road. There’s quite a bit of theory which goes into it, so I’d recommend starting with a few YouTube videos and looking at further training courses, Bike Safe is a great one to start with.
5. Check your bike
Such a fundamentally important thing to do, yet a lot of riders forget to check their bike before they ride. You can be the best rider in the world, but if your brakes fail or wheels blow, you’re going to be in trouble. A quick check of wheels, breaks, chain and controls before each and every ride is a simple but impactful habit to keep. Read your owner's manual and familiarize yourself with what ‘good looks like’. Every rider should have a good basic understanding in looking after their bike.
6. 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 confidence 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 experience, bikes and approach to riding. If you’re not sure a rider’s approach to riding fits with yours then ride on your own.
One of the key skills you develop as a rider is anticipation, it’s what make us better car drivers too. However, this can always be worked on and is key to remaining safe on your bike. When I commute in 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, 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.
8. Plan your journey
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!
9. 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. However, 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. Everyday you ride is a chance to gain more experience and further develop your riding skills and ability.
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.
By James Beddows, Founder RideTo
The views shared are that of the author and are not necessarily that of Lexham Insurance Consultants Ltd.