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Baylink Motorcycle Training

Mastering the Road: Essential Motorbike Roadcraft Tips

Essential Motorbike Tips

Riding a motorbike through the scenic roads of Melbourne Victoria is an exhilarating experience. The freedom of the open road, it’s a unique thrill that captivates many.

However, with this thrill comes the responsibility of mastering the art of roadcraft. Please continue reading below as we share with you some essential motorbike roadcraft tips.

Roadcraft as a Skill

Roadcraft is more than just controlling a motorbike; it’s a skill that combines precision, awareness, and adaptability. It’s the art of mastering the road, understanding your machine, and ensuring your safety and the safety of others.

Importance of Roadcraft

In this article, we’ll explore the essential roadcraft tips that every motorbike enthusiast in Melbourne should know. These insights will not only enhance your riding skills but also make each journey on your beloved bike safer and more enjoyable.

Section 1: Understanding Your Machine

Motorcycle Dynamics

Before you hit the road, it’s essential to understand the science behind motorcycle dynamics. Your ability to balance and control your bike depends on it.

Know Your Bike

Each motorcycle has its unique personality and capabilities. Knowing what your machine can and cannot do is crucial for safe and confident riding.

If you’re riding a motorcycle for the first time familiarise yourself with the location of the minor controls, indicators, horn, lights and mirrors. It’s a good idea to ride the bike in a quiet area first to get a feel for the clutch, brakes and throttle before riding in traffic.

Regular Maintenance

Maintaining your bike is not just about keeping it shiny; it’s about ensuring its reliability. Regular maintenance checks are vital to keeping your motorcycle in top condition.

Check your tyres, tread depth, pressures and look for any damage. Look at the chain tension and lubrication. Make sure you have sufficient brake pad material and the engine oil level is within specification.

These checks should be done before each ride.

Section 2: Safety Gear

The Helmet

Your helmet is more than an accessory; it’s your brain’s guardian. Investing in a high-quality helmet is non-negotiable.

Protective Riding Apparel

Wearing protective riding gear isn’t just about looking the part—it’s about shielding yourself from abrasion and impact in case of an accident.

Gloves and Boots

Your hands and feet play a crucial role in controlling your bike. Quality gloves and boots provide the grip and protection you need.

Section 3: Road Awareness

Scanning the Road

Constantly scanning the road ahead and in your peripheral vision is crucial. It helps you anticipate potential hazards and react in time.

You should be looking for things like pot holes in the road, vehicles coming out of driveways or intersections and young pedestrians or animals on the footpaths.

Check mirrors regularly and do head checks before changing lanes.

Always check for red light runners before riding through traffic lights and keep good spacial awareness around yourself.

Mirrors and Blind Spots

Your mirrors are your allies in traffic. Always check them and be aware of blind spots to eliminate surprises.

Only head checks will eliminate your blind spots so if in doubt HEAD CHECK!

Anticipating Traffic Flow

Understanding how traffic flows and predicting driver behaviour can help you navigate safely through congested roads.

Do you have merging lanes? Are drivers likely to change lanes in certain areas?

Be very mindful of your lane position and don’t sit in other vehicles blind spots. Drop back and move away if necessary to create crash avoidance space.

If you see a driver looking in mirrors this could be a sign they are looking to change lanes.

Section 4: Cornering Techniques

The Right Line

Choosing the right line through a curve is essential for safety, stability, and control. It’s a combination of technique and physics.

Always start a corner out wide and slow down. Try to maintain a minimum of 6 seconds vision through a corner.

Remember, slow in, fast out.

Aim to finish corners tight to give yourself safety space and run off area.


Countersteering might sound counterintuitive, but it’s the key to initiating a. An initial push on the inside handlebar will cause the bike to drop into the corner then you need to steer into the turn.

A good way to develop a feel for countersteering is to ride in a straight line and lightly push forward on one handlebar. Feel what it does to the bike.

Body Position

Your body position affects your bike’s stability and your ability to lean into turns. Proper positioning maximizes control.

Turn your head and look around the corner, roll your inside shoulder into the turn and bend the inside elbow as you lean into the corner.

Remember, you go where you look so look for the exit and point your chin to where you want to go.

Section 5: Braking Mastery

Progressive Braking

Smoothly and progressively applying your brakes ensures controlled and safe stops.

Set up and squeeze both the front and rear brakes. By doing this you will push the tyres into the ground and increase the grip onto the road.

Your front brake provides the majority of your braking force but the rear brake helps pull the rear of the bike down increasing braking grip so use them both together.

Emergency Braking

Knowing how to execute emergency stops swiftly and safely can be a lifesaver in critical situations and is a skill that should be practised as often as possible in a safe area. An empty carpark is ideal for this.

Practice squeezing those brakes on and applying pressure smoothly, keep your head and eyes up to maintain balance and practice changing back into first gear as you stop.

Snatching or grabbing at brakes will decrease the amount of grip the tyres have on the road surface causing wheels to lock and skid. Even with ABS being rough will increase braking distances.

Braking in Corners

Braking in corners is something you should avoid as it generally means you have gone in too fast. It is much safer to slow down more before the corner than accelerate out however, if you do find yourself in that situation a small amount of rear brake can help turn the front wheel in tighter. If your speed is too high for that then try to get the bike up straight, brake hard then ease off the brakes and lean back into the turn.

Trail braking or braking as you are leaning into a turn is a more advanced technique which requires smoothness and finesse but it allows for later braking and the option to brake up to the apex of the corner. Braking pressure needs to be released smoothly as you lean over more. You are starting to push the grip limits of the tyre using this technique. We would advise leaving this type of technique for controlled environments, not public roads. Mastering this skill will give you more corner entry speed but if it goes wrong it is easy to lose control of the bike.

Section 6: Riding in Adverse Conditions

Wet Weather Riding

Riding in the rain requires good forward observations and even more smoothness. Grip levels are decreased in wet weather and braking distance increases. Identifying hazards early and slowing down with plenty of time are essential.

Enter corners more slowly and lean your body off the bike whilst keeping the bike more upright. This increases the tyres grip.

Accelerate, brake and lean smoothly. Sudden or rough inputs can cause the tyres to lose grip on slippery surfaces.

Braking and accelerating should be done in a straight line to reduce the chance of slides.

These tips will help you maintain control on slippery surfaces.

Riding at Night

Enhancing visibility at night is essential. Learn how to use your lights effectively and stay visible to other road users.

Make sure your lights are clean and operating correctly.

Use your high beam when it is safe and legal to do so and ensure your helmet visor is clean. Do not use a tinted visor at night as this will greatly reduce your vision.

Wearing nighttime compliant Hi-Viz riding gear that has reflective properties will also help you be seen better.

If you find yourself being blinded by oncoming vehicle headlights look to the side of the road, not directly at the lights.

Dealing with Wind

Wind gusts can be challenging and may require you to lean into the wind.

Grip the bike with your legs but be loose in your upper body. Wind gusts can start and stop suddenly so be ready to lean into them but then lean away again quickly.

Be aware of your surroundings, if you have trees either side of the road they could be stopping cross winds but if the tree line stops and you have open areas either side you are likely to get hit by cross winds. Be ready to lean into any wind gusts.

Section 7: Group Riding Etiquette

Formation and Communication

Group rides require coordination.

Make sure there is a briefing before any group ride. Let the group know where you are all going and how the ride will work.

It’s a good idea to have a lead rider and a rear end rider. Using a corner rider system where the lead rider stops at intersections then has the next rider stop and point the rest of the group in the right direction until the rear end rider arrives can stop people from getting lost.

Keeping Safe Distances

Maintaining safe distances between you and vehicles in front is crucial for avoiding rear-end collisions.

A minimum 3 second gap should be kept from other road users. This allows reaction time and braking distance.

Look past any vehicles you are following and react to hazards early. Don’t wait for the vehicle in front of you to start braking before you react.

Section 8: Defensive Riding

Defensive Posture

Being prepared for the unexpected is a fundamental aspect of defensive riding.

Always keep your head and eyes up so you see hazards early.

Cover brakes in situations where you may need to use them and adopt “If Then” thinking, if this happens then I will do that.

Having plans in your head for how you may need to react to a situation will greatly reduce reaction times.

Avoiding Distractions

In today’s world, distractions are everywhere. Learn to stay focused on the road and your surroundings.

Turn your mobile phone off and leave it in your pocket, enjoy the opportunity to just ride your bike without the outside world being able to contact you.

Learn to map a route out before you leave so you are not constantly looking at a GPS.

Using landmarks and counting streets is how it used to be done before the digital age.

Identifying Escape Routes

Knowing where to go in case of an emergency is a valuable defensive riding skill. Always be aware of potential escape routes.

This brings us back to our “If Then” thinking. Look for where you could go if you really had to, our bikes are much smaller than cars and we can use smaller gaps around cars if we really need to.

Remember though, this should be a last resort. Good forward observations and slowing down early should always be your first thought.

Section 9: Handling Intersections

Right of Way

Understanding right-of-way rules is crucial for safe intersection navigation.

We should all know our road rules if we are riding on the road, but it doesn’t hurt to brush up on them occasionally.

Intersection Positioning

Your positioning at intersections determines your visibility and safety.

When turning left at an intersection, move to the left side of your lane and stay tight as you turn the corner. Once you can see the road ahead move back to a safe lane position.

When turning right at an intersection don’t pull up right next to the centre line. If somebody cuts the corner, you have nowhere to go. Stay round 1 metre left of the centre line to give yourself some safety space.

When approaching cross intersections or side streets move to the right of your lane and cover your brakes.

It’s also a good idea to press your indicator cancel button before getting to a side street. Leaving an indicator on is very easy to do and gives drivers a false indication you are turning into that side street.

Section 10: Continuous Learning

Advanced Riding Courses

Consider enrolling in advanced riding courses to elevate your skills to the next level.

Reflecting on Experience

Every ride offers opportunities for learning. Reflect on your experiences and continuously strive to improve.

The Road Ahead

The journey of mastering roadcraft is never-ending. Embrace the challenges and adventures that lie ahead on your motorbike.

At Baylink Motorcycle Training Centre, we are a VicRoads accredited Motorcycle Training Provider authorised to train, test and issue motorcycle learner permits and licences.

We believe Motorcycle riding should be fun, not an ordeal. Our highly experienced instructors go out of their way to ensure your experience with Baylink is positive and enjoyable.

Please call us today on (03) 5979 1600 to learn more.



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