Safety Tips for new riders

Written by Dee

A little knowledge goes a long way

It goes without saying the rider you are when you started will be very different to the rider you are now and the reason for this is experience and knowledge. Experience can only be gained by getting out there and putting the knowledge you have to practice. But when you don't have the full facts and your knowledge is limited you are failing to prepare yourself and hopefully some pointers below will help make your riding safer and more enjoyable

You're not Rossi

You don't need to pass your test and go get yourself an R1 or any large bike for that matter, technology today has made even the smaller engine bikes perform amazingly well. You'll be very surprised at what a 600cc will do and from my experience it is more than enough for the road. If you're unsure go for a test ride before you commit to anything you may be surprised

Are you Rossi?

Just finished watching the MOTOGP on a beautiful Sunday? Take a minute to calm down and maybe listen to some classical music before you get on your bike. I'm pretty sure you're still not Rossi and remember these guys are riding in a controlled safer environment on a bike they don't have to pay for when they crash

Wear the right gear

Make sure you always wear a helmet that conforms to the British Standard and put some protective gear on even if it is just a short run round the corner. You never plan to come off so you can't predict when you'll need to save your skin. Coming off at just 30 miles an hour on tarmac without protective gear will grate you like a slab of cheese

Neglect the wife but not the bike

If you neglect the wife, there's a few things you can do to make it up to her which will be discussed at another time, but neglect your bike and she won't be so forgiving. Do a pre ride check up of your indicators, lights, brakes, brake lights, chain tension, tyre pressure and wear.

Offence is NOT the best form of defence

When your riding on the road, the right of way is never yours regardless where you are, that's how you should be thinking at all times. If that car pulls out in front of you, you're going to suffer not him. If that lorry wants to change into your lane, it's likely he won't even know he's run over you. You have to be prepared and anticipate anything that can go wrong even if it's not your fault; it's safer to ride that way than someone else's mistake costing your time or worse still your life

Defensive Line

When cornering on the road, take a defensive line, a line that gives you the greatest visibility around a corner and always look as far ahead as you can. In short if your going right sit on the left side of your lane and if your going left sit on the right side until you can see the exit or any obstacles that may be in the way before you power through. Looking as far around the corner as possible helps you steer better (where you look is where you'll go), will help you identify any hazards as early as possible and will give your brain time to analyse data you are reading off the road about the angle of the corner. Is the road getting tighter or opening up? Should you maintain or start to power on?

Just because he can doesn't mean you should

People ride at different levels, with different skills, experience and abilities. The idea that your bike is usually more capable than you is very true but just because John can turn it in that quickly on a similar bike to yours doesn't mean you can too. You need to ride to your ability not others and in time you will develop and improve, but if you try to push yourself past your comfort zone, its a real possibility you'll push yourself past your handle bars too.

Slow in ..... and you'll come out

It's better to adopt this philosophy, it's better to dream about going faster from your bed than have nightmares about going to fast from a hospital one. Make sure your corner entry speed is slow if you are unsure, you can always increase the speed through and out of the corner. What you can't do is come in too fast then turn and try to grab your front brakes, your bike will sit up and you will be on your way sampling the local wildlife

Going left ..... better turn right

Counter-steering - Generally anything over about 10mph and you will be counter steering whether you realise it or not, but when you do realise and you embrace it you'll be amazed. In short when you put pressure on the right handlebar pushing the wheel to the left you will turn right and vice versa. You can test this on a straight road by gently pushing your handlebars one way and then the other and you will see the bike counter steer. The logic is you turn your bike with weight so if more weight is on one side it will move in that direction, it's why you see racers lean off a bike because the weight is shifted and so less lean is needed to move that weight to the same place. When you counter-steer say turn your wheel right your actually pushing the weight of the bike to the left, you can see this if you put your bike on its side stand and turn the wheel right. The most important thing you need to know is it works nothing else is as important

Just like your lady your bike likes a soft touch too

Stay loose and relaxed. You don't want to be holding onto your handle bars so tight your hands go pale, the bike responds so much better with a softer grip, it allows it to respond to bumps on the road better and believe it or not the engineering is designed to help your bike turn when required so you fighting it with a ninja death grip is actually working against what it needs to do.


Very simple very effective piece of advice I was given when filtering. Put your lights on if they do not come on automatically and stay in a low gear. The lower gear will make you a little louder to slow moving or stationary traffic and your lights will reflect off side mirrors raising awareness of your existence on the road. Always have your visor down when filtering for when that smoker throws his butt outside the window as you come flying by at 15 miles an hour

Advanced Riding

Just because the examiner didn't hear you crying in your helmet or see you nearly wheelie your bike by mistake doesn't mean you're the best rider you can be. It doesn't hurt and actually alot to gain from doing an advanced riding course or additional training, maybe even join one of your local advanced riding groups such as IAMS