We all hope to become better, safer riders and perhaps these tips can help.
RIDE YOUR RIDE:
Perhaps the most important part of becoming a better rider is to simply ride your ride. Stop trying to emulate your buddies and even professional racers, but simply understand and accept your limitations and ride accordingly. It is an accepted fact that bikers tend to adopt a 'pack mentality' when riding, often being led by far-more advanced and experienced riders, and this tends to encourage reckless and often fatal behavior by others in the group. Recognise the problem and act accordingly .
RECOGNISE THE SIGNS:
Sometimes the traffic is just out to kill you. There’s no obvious explanation for this occurrence but it is a fact. Look for the signs - a car nearly pulling out on you, traffic blaring horns and flicking vees at each other, a tractor creeping round a corner - and slow down. When the mojo is against you, accept it and knock the throttle on the head before it gets you.
OVERTAKE LIKE A PRO:
Don’t scream up behind a vehicle and sit on its bumper revving your engine. Stay a safe distance behind then, when you’re going to overtake, pull out laterally so you can see what is ahead of the vehicle. It might be slowing because a vehicle ahead is turning. Once you can see it’s safe, accelerate into the gap.
When riding in town or fast country back-roads, get into the habit of ‘arming’ your brakes by riding with one finger constantly on the lever. You can still use the throttle and hold on to the bars, but should you have to brake hard and fast, just having your finger already on the brake will give you an advantage – a potential life saver.
Filtering is legal as long as you comply with all traffic signs, road markings and filter with due care and attention. Look way ahead, keep the bike in a low gear and anticipate being side-swiped
ACCELERATE INTO SAFETY:
When joining a motorway use the speed of your bike properly. Accelerate hard into a gap then slow down to match the speed of the other traffic. Gives you a good reason to gas it and it’s the safest way of joining fast-moving highways.
When accelerating, practice quickly rolling off the throttle to unload the gearbox and then clicking up a gear without using the clutch. It’s much smoother and faster than using the clutch, doesn’t harm the bike’s gearbox, and clutchless changes are much easier on pillions.
BLIP IT ON DOWN:
Smooth out deceleration by blipping the throttle between downshifts. This helps by matching the engine speed to the gearbox speed, making for seamless deceleration while keeping the bike stable on corner entry and preventing unwanted pillion head-butts.
DON’T GET SUCKERED:
Don’t get suckered into a corner by riding out of your comfort zone. If your mates are riding too quick for you, let them go and ride at your own speed. They’ll wait for you at the next junction.
Just circulating a roundabout is a great way to learn how far over you can lean a motorcycle. Find a quiet one with as few exits as possible, and go round and round. Don’t worry about knee-down nonsense, but get comfortable with how far you can actually lean a modern bike.
90% of sportsbike owners ride around like flagpoles, stuck out in the breeze. Duck down behind the screen. You’ll get the benefit of aerodynamics, the bike will handle better, and you’ll be able to see your clocks. Not rocket science, is it?
WATCH THE WHEELS:
When coming up to a car looking to turn out of a junction, watch their wheels. They’re the very first things to move and you’ll instantly know if they’re staying put like a good chap or whether they’re about to make an assault on your life.
Decide the order and stick to it so you know that the guy behind isn’t going to overtake you. Organise a meeting point and exchange mobile numbers so if someone gets lost they won’t panic. Don’t ride close to the rider ahead and don’t put the slowest rider at the back, they will only feel pressured into riding beyond their limits.
WHERE YOU LOOK:
Your bike will go where you’re looking, so if you’ve messed up a corner don’t stare and get fixated on the hedge, look around the bend where you want to go. Nine times out of ten the bike is capable of getting around the corner. Even if you think it can’t, look at the exit and you will get through.
GET YOUR KNEE DOWN:
The key to knee down, other than lean angle, is foot position. Once the bike is over at a decent angle, roll the ball of your inside foot around the peg so it is at 90-degrees to the road. This forces your knee closer to the ground. Concentrate on sticking your leg out at right-angles to the bike and hey presto!
RIDE IN THE WET:
The key to riding in the wet is smoothness. Avoid any big weight transfers such as heavy accelerating or braking as they can over-load the tyres. There is a surprising amount of grip in the wet, but load your tyres up accordingly and look out for slippy areas such as the lethal spectre of over-banding (like ice in the wet) white lines, manhole covers and always brake in a straight line. You’ll be amazed how much speed you can carry.
REAR WHEEL SLIDE:
Once the rear steps out just roll the throttle a bit and tame the back wheel, don’t touch the rear brake or anything. Use the throttle to either hang it out or bring it back into line - more gas the further it goes out, less it comes inline. Honest, it’s as simple as that.