Ride safely

  • Operating a motorcycle is more tiring than driving a car and you will tire more quickly – on a long trip take regular breaks.
  • Wind, cold and rain make you tire more quickly.  Make sure your motorcycle clothing is warm and invest in a windshield – it’s worth the cost if you plan on riding long distances.
  • Give yourself space and time to respond to other motorists’ actions.
  • Give other motorists time and space to respond to you.
  • Ride in the middle of your lane where you can be seen and in a position that maximises your view of the road ahead.
  • Keep an eye-out for turning vehicles.
  • Avoid weaving between lanes.
  • Don’t ride when you are tired – you need to concentrate at all times.
  • Don’t ride under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  • Follow the rules of the road.
  • Presume that someone or something is around every bend and over every brow and slow down appropriately. You can never know what’s around the corner, even if you know the road.
  • Stick to the speed limit; there’s a limit for a reason.
  • Ride at a safe speed for both the road and the weather conditions. You should be able to slow down and stop within the distance you can see is clear.
  • In the wet, leave a four-second gap between you and the vehicle in front – much more in icy conditions.
  • Take regular breaks and stay fresh and alert.
  • Slow right down for bends – enter the bend slowly and then accelerate gently out of it.

Overtaking and filtering

Over the last few years there has been a significant increase in motorcyclists colliding with other vehicles during or after an overtaking manoeuvre. In many of these situations, riders collided with an oncoming vehicle or lost control and left the road.

Please remember, overtaking not only requires the skill to judge speed and distance, but a good knowledge of your bike’s acceleration. With a bike you are not used to riding, take time to learn how it reacts to acceleration and braking in different gears, before doing any overtaking.

Don’t overtake when approaching:

  • a driveway, farm track or gap in a hedgerow which a vehicle may turn into
  • bends
  • junctions
  • lay-bys on either side of the road
  • pedestrian crossings
  • hills or dips in the road
  • where you would have to cross a single white line in the middle of the road
  • where there are double white lines or other signs prohibiting overtaking

There could be a high speed vehicle coming the other way, hidden from view. To overtake safely you need a view of everything going on around you and none of us have x-ray vision. You have no idea how a driver or rider will react when they see you overtaking them. You can’t assume they will slow down to let you in. They may do the opposite.

If you are filtering past stationary or slow moving traffic, do it with care. The closely packed vehicles reduce your visibility, manoeuvrability and reaction time to a minimum. A lot of drivers will not know that you are there and may move across in front of you or open a door. If you are riding with others, plan everything for yourself. Snap overtaking decisions are dangerous.

Group riding

Group riding is a popular pastime, but is not without its risks. A significant number of motorcyclist casualties have occurred when riders are in a group. If you decide to join a group ride, please keep in mind the following points:

Ride to the bike behind you
One of the main factors in crashes while in a group is when riders try to keep up with the bike in front. This can easily be avoided if you ride to the bike behind you rather than the bike in front – keep the bike behind you in your mirrors all the time.

Ride your own ride
If you drop off the group, don’t be tempted to ride beyond your abilities. If the rider in front of you is quicker, don’t succumb to peer pressure and get out of  your depth trying to keep up.

The other main factor in group riding crashes occurs whilst riders are trying to overtake other traffic to keep up with the leader. To reduce the risk, give the rest of the group time to catch up by backing off until followers are also past. It’s tempting to follow the rider in front when they overtake. Always make your own decision based on the conditions you are experiencing at that time – never rely on the observations or actions of other riders in your group.

Pass other vehicles one at a time, not as a group.
Each rider will have better visibility ahead, spend less time on the wrong side of the road and have more time and space to react if something goes wrong.

Plan ahead
Plan regular fuel and food stops at least every 90 minutes. Devise a plan for on-road communications; agree signals for low fuel, road hazards, upcoming turns etc. Never turn off the road unless you are sure the follower has seen you.

Ride in staggered formation when possible
When road width permits, ride on alternate sides of the lane you are travelling in. This not only enhances visibility but also helps to create a safer space around each bike.

Take regular breaks
Group riding can be more stressful and tiring than solo riding. Fatigue has caused many biker crashes, especially on the way home from a group ride. Take regular breaks and reduce your speed when you recognise you are losing concentration.

Never ride faster than the speed that allows you to stop in the distance you can see to be clear.