HOW TO GUIDES
TIPS FOR NEW MOTORCYCLE RIDERS
TOP 10 TIPS TO HELP YOU FEEL CONFIDENT ON YOUR FIRST RIDE!
There has been a big increase in the number of new motorcycle registrations since the pandemic, as folks take to two wheels to get around town and stay socially distanced – if you are one of those new riders, here are some things to remember:
1. Keep Calm And Carry On
Try to get into the right frame of mind before you ride. Keep your mind calm and confident and ditch any anxiety and stress, just concentrating on riding your bike. You will find that riding is absorbing and you will need to employ full concentration, which in itself is a great antidote to stress, you can't worry about the state of the nation when you are focused on your bike and the road. In fact riding can be very mindful and many experienced motorcyclists say that they find riding a great stress reliever as they just concentrate on, and enjoy the ride and leave their worries behind.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
Get plenty of practice so that you are really familiar with your machine before you venture out on the main roads to play with the traffic. It's a good idea to go to a local car park or a quiet back street and just spend some time practising and really getting a handle on your bike so that the controls, manoeuvring, observations and handling are all second nature.
3. Eyes On
Give your motorcycle a once over visual safety check before you set off to make sure that everything is working and in order. Look at your lights, brake lights and indicators to make sure they are clear of road grime and working. Check that you have enough fuel for your planned journey, and look under your bike to make sure there are no leaks of oil or petrol. Make sure that your tyre pressure is ok on both tyres and pump them up if necessary. Keep up with services and routine maintenance to make sure that your bike is always safe and performing at its best.
4. Suits You Sir
Kit yourself out with really good riding gear. This is essential to keep warm, comfortable and safe on the roads. You must have a good well fitting British Standards checked helmet, tough weatherproof gloves, a warm thick jacket and trousers which would protect you in the event of a crash and keep you warm against the wind chill when riding. Good boots are also essential. Even if you are riding a small cc moped you should dress for a fall, as coming off hurts even at slow speeds and good gear can make all the difference.
5. Group Theory
Avoid things which will distract you and break your concentration like riding in a big group, although it may seem fun, you might find that you are thinking about what other people are doing, or trying to keep up, instead of focusing on your own riding. Other riders in the group may be more experienced than you as well, and may have a higher level of skill so may be comfortable riding in places or at speeds which you aren't comfortable with, so keep the group small or just ride with one similar level rider friend or alone until you have gained experience. Equally don't use your phone or try and chat while you're riding, it is really important to concentrate and try to eliminate distractions. Make sure that you have had something to eat and drink before you set off too, as hunger can take the edge off your concentration.
6. Look Around, Round, Round
Take your surroundings into account, it is very different riding in the middle of a city in heavy traffic to riding on country roads. Always be very aware of the other traffic on the roads, the environment around you and be ready to act should anything unexpected happen like a driver pulling out on you or an animal running into the road. Get into the habit of checking over your shoulder a lot so that it becomes an instinct to do it all the time and you are always aware of everything around you so that you are prepared for any eventuality.
7. Stay Frosty
Check the weather forecast and riding conditions before you set off. If the weather looks like worsening then make sure you have packed wet weather gear and anything else you might need for stormy weather. Consider changing your plans if bad storms or snow are forecast as they can present hazardous conditions for even the most experienced of riders. Look out for potholes as they can be lethal and avoid ice if you can see it and patches of oil as they are slippery, as you might expect!
8. School Days
Consider undertaking more training. The CBT gives a learner rider enough information to ride but it is important to build on these skills and improve them. Experience is a great teacher but there are training schools out there which can give you more advanced rider training and a course can give you a great set of extra skills which can really benefit your future riding.
9. Stay Back!
Keep a safe distance between you and any other vehicle on the road. This will give you greater stopping distance and enough time to think and react if anything unexpected happens. A good distance between you and the vehicle in front also gives you far greater visibility. So allow plenty of space, depending on road and traffic conditions, visibility, speed, weather and time of day. Also if you can, stay out of car drivers' blind spots, to make sure that you are seen. Making eye contact is a really good safety tip if possible, as most car drivers actually would rather see you and avoid that smidsy moment!
10. No Rush
Don't feel pressure to buy the biggest motorcycle out there. Start small with an easy to handle manoeuvrable motorcycle on which to hone your skills. It will be cheap to run and manageable, and you can practice on it without the pressure of a huge bike and then feel confident to move up to a bigger machine when you are really comfortable riding.
Go forth and conquer the concrete streets with your new found confidence!
Very good luck to any new riders out there, motorcycling, you know it makes sense! Are there any tips which our more experienced motorcyclists would like to pass on? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
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