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Roadcraft tips: Motorcycle Riding Tips

motorcycle riding tips - where to look

Where should I be looking whilst riding?

Look as far down the road as you can see then bring your vision back towards you. Scan the road in front of you checking the road surface, what’s on the sides of the road, and what’s on the footpaths. Check side roads and driveways and regularly check your mirrors.

Keep your eyes moving around so you can see hazards early and avoid just staring in front of you or looking down. Don’t fixate on one thing.

When should I do head checks?

There are four main times you should do a head check and not just checking your mirrors but turning your head to check your blind spots.

  • Before you pull away from the side of the road and into traffic.
  • When changing lanes the last thing you should do is a head check into the lane you are entering.
  • When stopped at a red light, once your lights turn green don’t just take off. Check left and right to make sure another vehicle is not running the red lights before you take off.
  • Merging lanes. If two lanes merge into one do a head check into the lane running out next to you and make sure another vehicle hasn’t decided to try and come past you at the last minute.   

What should you do when approaching an intersection?

A good sequence to perform as you approach an intersection is to firstly press the cancel button on your indicators. Many accidents have occurred because a rider has left an indicator on unintentionally, especially a left indicator.

Move into the right wheel track so you can be seen better and cover your brakes and clutch. Start “if-then” thinking. If another vehicle pulls out then what do I need to do? This will greatly reduce your reaction time if you do need to brake.

It is nice to have the other driver looking your way but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are seeing you. Drivers who aren’t looking for motorcycles can look straight through you.

A better indication a vehicle is about to pull out is to watch the front wheel. If that front wheel starts to roll you should be squeezing your brakes on.

What following distance should I keep from other vehicles?

As a motorcycle rider, you need to be very aware that your motorcycle cannot out-brake a car. We have less rubber on the road and therefore less grip to stop with.

Keeping a minimum of a 3-second gap between you and other road users will give you reaction time and braking distance. To count a 3-second gap, pick a point on the road and when the rear of the vehicle you are following gets to that point start to count. 1 one thousand 2 one thousand 3 one thousand.

You don’t want to get to that point until you have counted to 3 one thousand.

You should also be looking past the vehicle you are following and reacting to the changes in traffic conditions further down the road. If a vehicle three down starts to brake it’s like a domino effect, it will come back to you so do something early.

motorcycle riding tip - safe distance

What else can we do to stay safe on the road?

Make plans as you ride, “If-then” thinking. Watch what is going on around you and think to yourself, if this happens then I can do that.

Seeing hazards early and reacting early are the best things you can do out on the road. Give yourself space and time and this will go a long way to making your riding safe and enjoyable. 

What if it really goes wrong and I can’t stop or it looks like a vehicle will hit me from behind?

It should always be a last resort, but motorcycle riders can use gaps car drivers can’t even contemplate if they really need to get out of trouble. Better to roll down between 2 cars if you really must than to run into the back of one or have one run into you so think about escape plans for worst case scenarios.

One of the advantages a motorcycle has is its smaller size and superior manoeuvrability over cars. Riders need to be prepared to utilise this if they really need to.

Stay safe out there and enjoy your riding.


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