Read the top safety tips for beginners from our in-house riders.
Many motorcyclists go a lifetime without injury. But the fact is, we’re vulnerable.
If it’s between you on a motorbike and a car, you’re going to come out worse off. On a motorcycle, you’re exposed and you should act accordingly. Motorcycle safety is paramount.
For beginners, riding takes practice and patience. But good advice can also go a long way.
This week, the Sinnis marketing team reveal their top tips for new riders.
Read on for our dos and don’ts when riding the UK streets.
“Watch out for HGVs”
A lot of the scares I’ve had riding have been with HGVs (heavy goods vehicles).
With all respect to lorry drivers, they’re often tired because they drive for long periods. Most of the time they can’t see you and aren’t expecting you.
Don’t ever undertake an HGV and when you overtake, leave ample room. Make sure you can see them in their mirrors, yes. But that doesn’t mean they can see you.
With large vehicles, always assume you are invisible and act accordingly.
“Brake before you turn”
Cornering too fast is easy to do when you start out. But that’s when you lose control.
And the problem is – when you’re already cornering, hitting the brakes makes it worse. Braking will immediately cause the bike to straighten up, sending you flying off the corner into a ditch.
The best advice I got when I was a new rider is this: brake before you turn. If you complete all braking activity before you begin cornering, you avoid any danger of instability.
If you must brake during a corner (and it happens – sometimes the angle isn’t clear), apply a little back brake pressure and try to keep your bike as upright as possible without losing the curve of your direction.
Here’s some more advanced advice for braking into corners.
“Plan for the worst”
When you’ve been riding for a while, you learn to always have an escape plan.
On a motorcycle, your reduced presence on the road and your speed mean that for many car drivers, you are as good as nonexistent.
You should know that other drivers can do anything, and plan for it. Never filter through spaces that could close faster than you could get out. If you see someone driving dangerously or on the phone, take a wide berth.
Always predict the worst that could happen and plan to avoid it.
“Keep your visor down”
The biggest mistake I made when I started was a classic one. I left my visor up for a short trip, got dust in my eyes, and went straight into the back of the guy in front.
They don’t teach you this in the CBT. But I always ride with my visor down now. I was lucky I didn’t get a stone in my face or something else.
Your visor isn’t just for keeping the flies out of your eyes at high speeds. The roads are laden with all kinds of debris that you don’t want in your face.
Keeping your visor down is just good sense. And it’s not just there to protect you from small objects – in an accident, it could be the last line of defence for your vision.
“Look through corners”
I wasn’t able to take lessons in the country where I started riding, so advice from more experienced riders was important.
The most counter-intuitive yet useful advice I received is to look where you want to go. To new riders, it sounds natural. But when you’re on a bike, you’re instinct is to look dead ahead.
Through a corner, I pick out the spot I want my bike to end up or the line I want to take, and I turn my head to it. It’s the best way to tell your body and your machine what to do.
Before I learned to do this, I had real trouble with getting the counter-steer right on corners. But it’s one of those things that, once you do it, it just “clicks” with you as the right way to ride.
“Be Careful About Group Rides”
Riding a motorcycle can quickly make you feel part of a new community.
But as a beginner rider, you should be careful not to ride out with a group or take a pillion passenger on a trip too soon.
A passenger can change the dynamics of your bike – its balance, braking, and acceleration – completely. Riding in a group has its own set of challenges. You have a lot more to be aware of, and you may feel the pressure to ride faster than you’re comfortable with.
Take time to get to know your bike and how it rides in different road conditions before you team up with other enthusiasts.
“Always wear full gear”
They drum ATGATT into your head when you do your test – wear all the gear, all the time.
And it’s so vital. Ask any biker. The difference you see between the hands and limbs of someone who’s taken a tumble without gear and with it are astronomical.
Even when you’re going at 15 mph and come off on tarmac, you can come away with scars. But with the proper gear, you see professionals crash at over 100 mph and go unscathed.
Don’t worry about looking good or showing off. Worry about your body and the unnatural dangers you’re exposing it to when you mount up.
“Stay within your limits”
So many new riders push themselves out of their comfort zone and end up crashing.
If they walk away uninjured, it can be a good lesson learned. But it’s one you want to avoid.
In 2016, 22% of injured motorcyclists were involved in single-vehicle accidents. Most of these were young riders going too fast on rural roads.
Don’t worry about the guys behind you. As a beginner rider, you know what you’re comfortable with. Stay within your limits.
When you’re more worried about getting your knee to the tarmac than the hazards you could encounter on a bend – that’s when you make a mistake.
A final tip!
We see a lot of beginner riders on our Sinnis bikes.
No matter how good a rider you are, if your bike is in bad shape you’re going to run into issues.
Don’t buy a scrapper with bad brakes and no tread on the tires. Make sure you’re on a solid machine. It’ll make the biggest difference to the safety of your ride.