Learning how to ride a motorcycle is very different from learning how to drive a car. Motorbike riders face a lot of different challenges compared to those which are faced by other vehicle drivers.
Although motorcycle riders are only involved in about 1 % of all vehicle accidents on UK roads, motorcycle riders are many times more likely to be seriously injured or killed than those travelling by car (although often motorcyclists are not the ones at fault for an accident but other road users in which case you’ll want to read this). It is still very important that motorcycle riders have a thorough understanding of road safety to help you stay out of harms way.
Understanding the basic principles of road safety will help you to keep safe, avoiding accident, and altogether have a more enjoyable ride, so here are some tips which are specifically aimed at motorcycle riders.
All new licence holders must complete the Compulsory Basic Training course (you can find a course here). These courses offer a mixture of theoretical and practical lessons to help potential motorcycle riders to get to grips with riding safely.
In addition to Compulsory Basic Training, motorbike riders can also take the Advanced Motorcycle Training course. These courses are designed sharpen existing bike skills and to teach riders how to make the most out of their vehicle. Completing the Advanced Motorcycle Training may also help you to lower your insurance costs.
Personal Protective Equipment
Before you start riding you must invest in the proper personal protective equipment. Riders are required by law to wear a properly fitted helmet whenever they are riding on a public road. Sikh riders are exempt from this provision on legal grounds if they are wearing a turban. Most helmets have a lifespan of 3 – 5 years and should be replaced after this.
Eye protection is advised if your helmet hasn’t got a visor to prevent debris and insects from getting into your eyes. You should keep your eyewear clean and check it regularly to make sure that there aren’t any marks or scratches which could affect your vision. Always wear motorcycle leathers or a synthetic alternative when you are out on your bike. Although a riding suit is not a mandatory requirement at present, wearing a good quality suit could help to save your life. Proper riding gloves are also advisable, as they help to keep your hands warm and dry, and they will help to improve your grip.
Before you ride your bike, you should always perform the T-CLOCS tests. T-CLOCS stands for Tyres, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis, Stand. Briefly look over these areas of the bike to check for any damage or malfunctions. If you spot any problems you should assess the extent of the damage and make an informed decision on whether or not to operate the motorcycle.
In some minor cases you should only operate the motorcycle if it fails your T-CLOCS test if you are travelling to a garage to get it fixed. In certain cases, you should not ride the bike at all, because this could put you and other road users and pedestrians in danger. In fact, some types of T-CLOCS damage actually means that it is illegal to ride the bike on the road. If you are uncertain about the extent of the problem, you should speak to a qualified mechanic straight away.
Whenever you take your bike out for a ride you must get into the right mindset. Your mental state can affect your ability to judge scenarios, which may end up putting you and other road users into danger. If something does upset you whilst you are out riding, you should stop for a break to allow you to collect your thoughts. You should also take a break if you start to feel tired during the course of a ride. Motorcycle riding is a very physical activity and can therefore be very draining. Becoming tired will affect your ability to concentrate properly and can slow your reaction times right down.
You should carefully assess the external conditions before taking your bike out for a ride. The weather conditions can have a far greater effect on motorbike riders than they have on car drivers.
Be especially cautious in wet or icy conditions. You may also need to wear additional layers of clothing under your riding suit if you are planning on going out in colder conditions. Getting cold can reduce focus and leads to decreased reaction times. This may prove fatal on an icy road.
Some riders prefer to avoid distractions such as music or listening to the radio. Although some helmets are now available with Bluetooth connectivity to make it easier to listen to your chosen content, you must consider whether or not this will affect your riding abilities. Being aware of your surroundings is an essential part of riding a motorcycle and loud audio content may affect your ability to be properly aware. It also makes it much harder for the rider to hear the noises that their own vehicle is making.