Every motorcyclist starts out the same way after passing their CBT (compulsory basic training). You get hold of a slick bike, spend plenty on fancy leathers and a helmet to match, arrange your motorbike insurance so you’re safe and sound to travel, then head out for your first ride to tear up the open road.
Quickly, you realize that there’s certainly room for your skills to grow if you’re going to get the most out of your new hobby. And while the number of motorcycle crashes is dropping, according to Department for Transport data, better skills will keep you safer.
So, with this in mind, what can you do to improve your motorbike riding skills?
Adjust your speed before entering a corner
One of the simplest ways to smooth out your riding style is by reducing your speed as you approach corners, as opposed to slamming on the brakes and quickly changing your riding position to stop yourself from coming off. Trim your speed lightly for a longer period, get in position, then lean. From here, you can accelerate confidently away along the next straight.
Use your speed to create space
While most motorists will give you enough space on the road, some are much less accommodating and will drive too close to you. This is never a comfortable situation, but one thing you and problematic drivers probably won’t have in common is lightning-fast acceleration.
Use your bike to make more space for yourself, either by overtaking the next car, or by simply moving ahead. Still, be sure to count that you are two seconds behind the driver in front so you have plenty of time to brake if they slam on theirs.
Wear the right gear for the weather
Your gear – jacket, leathers, base layer, jeans, boots, gloves, and helmet – need to be suitable for the weather. Always be sure to check to forecast before you head out, as wearing non-waterproof clothing at 70mph can quickly become a chilly affair, impacting your riding skills in kind.
Get the right bike
While lots of us like riding superbikes, they simply aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. And likewise, a moped is unlikely to scratch the itch of riders who see themselves as a reincarnation of Barry Sheene. Try a few different bikes before you commit to one, either through test drives or by renting one for a few days – a much better plan than being stuck with a bike you don’t like that cost you thousands!
Once you’ve mounted the motorcycle, complete the following checks:
- Clutch and throttle: Make sure they are working smoothly (throttle should snap back when released)
- Mirrors: Clean and adjust all mirrors to ensure the sharpest viewing
- Brakes: Test front and rear brakes (each brake should feel firm and hold the motorcycle still when fully applied)
- Horn: Test the horn