Top 10 Tips to Becoming a Better Rider
Check out our fantastic top tips to becoming a better rider with advice coming straight from the experts at Total Advanced Motorcycle Training. Looking to do additional training? Don’t forget you can get 10% discount on your insurance when you train with Total Advanced.
Always ride defensively anticipating potential hazards whilst maintaining good safety margins. Try to ride with an invisible bubble around you and subject to the environment, speed and potential hazards this can be enlarged or reduced. If there is an escalation in the threat from the hazard, then respond with greater margins. Always think ‘what if’.
Always position in such a way that you maximize your position on the road to make you as visible as possible to other road users. Think of not just your zone of vision, but how it works in reverse. The chances are if you can’t see them, they will not be able to see you. Nearside junctions create great risk to motorcyclists so ride accordingly placing more effort and attention to your approach line. Correct positioning for bends is essential.
Avoid target fixation on the left kerb on RH bends as where you look you normally will head and avoid turning out of the bend too soon resulting in a exit line near the opposing traffic. Enter LH bends too quickly and it can have serious consequences through drifting into the opposing lane.
Find out more about positioning in the video below…
We should always be riding proactively rather than reactively. Do not wait for the car to appear at the junction before engaging in a defensive mode but try and use all the information available much sooner. At the presence of a junction hazard sign, break in the solid white nearside kerb line, drop kerbs all should start a scanning process to seek out the junction and negate any threat well before you arrive.
Motorcycles are an extension of your body and the more we can work in harmony the better the machine will respond. On the approach to any hazard be in the correct gear which provides you with good engine braking /acceleration if required. As a rough guide mid way through the rev band is as good a place to be. Whilst you don’t need to understand the physics of counter steer have a basic knowledge so you don’t try and make the bike do something that it wasn’t designed for.
Reading the road
Whilst junctions are a real risk to motorcyclists so are Left & Right Hand bends on rural de-restricted roads. A bend is a potential hazard so correct gear selection on the approach is important. The size of a motorcycle means we can adopt a far more flexible approach with our entry, mid corner and exit lines. This should be on the basis of achieving an early view and maximizing our safety margins.
To be able to consistently and correctly read the severity of corners is an art and whilst there may be varying information to assist us with this, the use of the limit /vanishing point is another valuable piece of information. Your entry line followed by approach speed versus severity of the bend will all make the limit point move either quicker or slower. Being able to apply this skill will assist in maintaining a good flow to the ride.
Now you’ve read the road, learn about overtaking safely…
Avoid at all cost using the front brake for any slow speed maneuver especially if turning. Always aim to cover the rear brake, which means getting into a ‘mind set’ to always put your left foot down (modern machines). When slow riding a gentle application of the rear brake can also stabilizes the machine. Always ride managing your space, by that I mean you can’t influence other road users but you can yourself. Through correct anticipation of the movement of other traffic should mean less stops and better flowing ride.
Weather conditions and road surface have their part to play. In winter months the colder climate has to be considered whereas in the summer months new surface dressing is in abundance. Know the capabilities of your brakes and even practice in a safe environment. Don’t wait until you encounter a hazard that needs heavy braking before knowing how effective they actually are.
Good machine control will assist in less emphasis on the brakes however if you need to brake that is what they are there for. On cornering try to reduce your speed on the approach as mid corner braking is to be avoided.
Progress v restraint
By far the hardest competency to master. A cautious rider who always maintains deep follow positions will find making progress difficult. On realising an opportunity to overtake has occurred they first have to close the gap which will mean traveling faster than the target vehicle and when making contact the opportunity is lost as you are that much further down the road and the situation has changed due to the dynamic nature of this manoeuver.
Riders who have an ability to overtake at will tend to follow too closely completely sacrificing their safety margins for the sake of making progress. It is an art to correctly anticipate when a potential overtake is occurring. The movement from the safety of a follow position into a pre-overtaking position requires great flexibility as if the opportunity doesn’t develop drop back again. All planning should be exercised from the safety of a follow position. Profiling of vehicles and negating any off side dangers has to be included in any strategy.
Using all the information available is essential if we are to be a great motorcyclist. This is why it’s the all encompassing feature of Road Craft and the System of Motorcycle Control. This isn’t unique to bikers but anything in life, as knowledge is invaluable. Some information is more obvious than others and with experience even minute gains of information add to a clearer picture.
As riders we never stop learning and whilst there are great opportunities with literature, media and the internet nothing substitutes for practical training. The brain can absorb limited new information so training needs to recognise this and not overload it. As the brain acquires new knowledge the key is to move that into an automated process (second nature) which you don’t need to think twice about and allows the brain to acquire additional skills. As your foundation grows and more becomes second nature you will then have capacity to seek out the less obvious detail and become accomplished and skillful motor cyclist.
Find out more about advanced motorcycle training in our dedicated guide!