Riding tips and techniques
Choose the right motorcycle
Before you make a decision, follow these tips on how to choose the right motorcycle for you:
- Talk to experienced riders, chat to knowledgeable staff in showrooms and refer to motorcycle websites.
- Think about what sort of motorcycle will suit your needs, whether it’s for touring at weekends, everyday commuting, trips to the beach or a sports model.
- Be realistic about your size, weight, and strength, as you will need to be able to manoeuvre quickly, efficiently, and confidently.
- If upgrading to a more powerful bike after upgrading your licence, take time to practise or take a refresher course, as the handling is very different from smaller motorcycles.
- ‘Setting up’ is braking lightly as you approach potential hazards, to give you more control and opportunity to react to unexpected events. It also:
- prepares the motorcycle to stop without locking up the brakes.
- prepares any drivers behind you that you may be about to brake hard.
If something unexpected happens and you need to avoid a crash:
If a blowout or rapid puncture occurs whilst you are riding:
- Lean in to the swerve and then try and correct the motion as quickly as possible.
- Check where you’re going to make sure you don’t end up in another crash.
- Don’t brake – just gradually close the throttle down and try to steer straight.
- Move your weight towards which ever tyre is still inflated.
- Adjust your speed coming up to a corner.
- Ease off the brakes gently on entering the corner.
- Change down to the appropriate gear to get you into and out of corners.
- Allow for traffic and weather conditions.
In rural and regional areas, a typical motorcycle crash is a single vehicle run off road crash which can be caused by misjudging cornering.
- Start corners wide to improve your vision of oncoming traffic.
- Plan to finish in tight.
- Move away from the central ‘head-on’ zone as you round the corner.
A number of surfaces can provide a slipping hazard for motorcycles, including wet roads, painted lane markings and steel surfaces.
To ride safely on slippery surfaces:
- Reduce your speed, so that you require less space to stop.
- Reduce the amount of lean on the motorcycle when riding curves, by slowing down and/or leaning your body into the bend.
- Gain more traction from riding in the tracks made by the car in front of you.
- Look out for oil that often collects down the centre of a lane.
Steering shakes or 'wobbles'
Incorrect tyre pressure or weight distribution can lead to steering shakes or wobbles.
If it happens:
- Grip the handlebars firmly but do not try to correct the steering.
- Don’t fight the wobbling.
- Gradually decelerate without braking suddenly.
- Once the wobbling stops, pull over to a safe place.
Carrying a pillion passenger
Carrying any additional weight your bike will affect the handling of the motorcycle:
Your passenger should:
- Only carry a pillion passenger or heavy loads if you are an experienced rider.
- Have a suitable seat for your passenger and ensure they have suitable protective gear.
- Adjust the rear suspension spring preload, mirror, headlight and tyre pressure to allow for the additional weight.
- Ride at lower speed and adjust your buffer zone to allow extra stopping distance.
- Keep conversation to a minimum to avoid distraction.
- Do not make your passenger nervous as it could compromise safety.
- Get on the motorcycle after you have mounted the motorcycle and started the engine.
- Sit as far forward as possible and hold on to the waist of the rider or a secure part of the motorcycle.
- Keep both feet on the foot pegs at all times, even when the motorcycle is stopped.
- Stay directly behind you, leaning as you lean.
Tips and techniques for motorcycle riders Ride safe handbook