Give yourself the best chance of staying upright by regularly servicing and maintaining your motorcycle.
As you learned on your training course, carry out routine daily checks to ensure everything’s working; wouldn’t you feel a prat if someone rear-ended you at night because your tail light bulb had blown!
Tyres in good condition with a decent amount of tread depth, inflated to the correct pressure will give the rider much better feedback.
Remember, your tyres will need time to warm up to operating temperature for optimum grip. This fluctuates according to ambient and road temperature and riding style. If in doubt, read the owner’s manual or consult your local dealer for advice.
You’ve had a blazing row with your partner, the credit card bill’s just arrived, the cat’s deposited in your new Shoei lid – time to go for a spin to let off steam? Probably not!
Even the world’s best motorcycle racers don’t perform well if their mind is not focused on the job, so launching out for a spirited ride to quell your anger probably isn’t a wise move for anyone. The same is to be said for being tired, hung over or under the weather.
Stay inside, calm down/get better and then enjoy your ride.
Riding too close to the vehicle in front reduces your available braking distance, reduces visibility and reduces the chances of other motorists seeing you.
Keep at least a two-second gap between your machine and the vehicle in front (two chevrons). Allow four seconds or more if the road is wet, poor visibility, or you’re following a high-sided vehicle.
Pick a fixed point in the road, start counting when the vehicle in front passes it. If you’ve reached it before you’ve counted ONE THOUSAND, TWO THOUSAND then you’re too close!
The speed at which a motorcycle is travelling at can be deceptive. Brisk acceleration, coupled with a liberal smattering of new rider excitement can result in a novice substantially topping the speed limit without even realising it.
Any increase in speed above the speed limit also boosts the chances of an accident and getting nicked. Aim to stay within the speed limit at all times by regularly checking your clocks.
The right motorcycle gear will help save your flesh in an accdent but good quality kit can also help reduce the chances of an accident before it’s started.
Research has proved that riders who wear brightly coloured helmets and protective clothing substantially reduce the chances of being involved in an accident involving another motorist.
Also, quality kit that keeps the rider warm and dry also helps them stay alert in wet and cold weather, giving better reaction times than a bike who’s wet through and cold. Look for Goretex, or similar breathable membranes when investing in new kit.
We also recommend fitting an anti-mist shield in your helmet. These reduce ‘misting-up’, maximising your visibility.
Making your way through a busy car park or town centre in slow moving traffic is a fine art and requires good clutch control, so keep your bike skills sharp by practising them as often as you can.
Ideally, find a disused road, airfield or car park to polish up your emergency braking and clutch control skills. It’s also great way to familiarise yourself with a new bike.
Run through the braking sequences you were taught by your instructor to keep it smooth and steady. A good emergency stop should never look too dramatic.
Try placing a couple of objects on the floor to practice figure of 8s, focusing on what you’re riding around while balancing throttle, clutch and back brake. On a disused road try doing a u-turn without putting your foot down, practice makes perfect and it will improve your clutch control.
After a while the skills will become second nature, which means you are less likely to grab a handful of front brake when if you need to stop quickly. It’ll also mean you can look cool when riding, feet-up, into your local bike meet.
Rideouts with the right bunch of people can be a wonderful experience. But if you’re unlucky enough to be thrown in the deep end, with a bunch of ‘Sunday power rangers’ looking for a race on a sunny afternoon, then we suggest going it alone!
It’s difficult enough learning to get comfortable on public roads without some idiot chopping your nose off at every turn and pulling unexpected manoeuvres in an attempt to show off to the newbie.
Pick a sensible mate from which to learn; someone who you respect for the right reasons. Enjoy developing your skills at your own pace, not theirs.
Taking to the road when the gritters are out is a sure-fire way of knackering your bike and probably yourself.
Black ice, cold tyres, poor visibility and a lack of grip most of the time means a hard-hitting faceplant is not so much ‘if’ but ‘when’. Now add a healthy dose of clueless car drivers attempting the same feat and we think you get the picture. Same rules apply for torrential rain and high winds.
Lack of attention to the changing road surface is one of the most common reasons many new riders fall from their motorcycle.
A diesel spill, gravel strewn across the road, or a patch of wet leaves under a tree will usually cause no problem for a car driver, but can prove the undoing of any biker. Balancing on just two wheels, rather than four, motorcycle tyres rely heavily on good road surfaces for grip when accelerating, braking and cornering.
Survey the road ahead for changes in road surface, looking out for; draining covers, slippery tarmac, gravel or wet leaves.
All dodgy road conditions should be treated with caution. Avoid heavy braking, sharp acceleration or fast cornering. Judicious use of the back brake is far better than grabbing a handful of front. A day or two at an off-road school will really help develop your skills to tackle this.
Despite their reputation for being tedious and run by a bunch of old farts on BMWs, advanced riding courses are a great way of furthering your riding skills. A number of good motorcycle training companies offer advanced and pass plus courses, the latter of which are specifically tailored for new riders.
As we have already mentioned, defensive riding is the name of the game and what better way to learn than on a advanced skills course?