When you first get a motorcycle, the exhilarating feeling you have as you take on the world via two wheels really is hard to beat.
As a new rider you can even have too much fun, that you forget about how to keep extra safe and what to look out for before and during riding.
We spoke to Ian Biederman, Chief Instructor at the World of BMW Road Skills' BMW Rider Training centre in Royston, who gave us his advice on the best ways to help keep you safer on the road when you first start out on a motorcycle.
1. Take regular breaks
“It’s very tiring to focus for long periods of time.”
This can lead to your mind wandering, not great when you should be focusing on the road ahead. Take regular breaks to keep yourself sharp.
2. Plan ahead
“Teach yourself to look further - the further ahead you can plan the easier it is to make decisions.”
It sounds pretty straightforward but it’s all too easy to focus directly on what’s in front of you. This makes it much harder to plan ahead effectively and also means that you’ll have less time to react to what’s in front of you.
3. Take your time and manage your speed
“Enter hazards slower than you think you can manage them. Like going around a bend - it is always easier to add speed and very difficult to reduce it.”
Speed is one of the biggest causes of accidents, especially when riders misjudge the speed that they are able to take a bend only to find themselves heading for the verge – or even worse – oncoming traffic. Manage your speed and work up to it, it’s far better to go in slow and maintain speed through a corner.
“After each ride consider your actions and how the ride progressed. Think about elements of the ride that were not clean and consider how you could have made them better. None of us are perfect but we always strive to be better.”
Reflecting on your riding will help you to think about areas that you think could improve on to better help your riding. If you think about what might not have went as well during a ride and why this might have happened then you can learn and improve on mistakes. Making your riding not only more enjoyable, but also safer.
5. Back to school
“Desire for continued training. Motorcycling is not the normal default mode of transport for most. Therefore, our default actions are that of our regular mode of transport. For example, if you drive a car as your main mode of transport then your methods will most likely reflect the habits you have when driving. We often make mistakes this way and are unaware of how this could be simplified, better and more fun. Continued training will highlight these areas and formulate plans and approaches to make your riding more effective.”
There are many ways in which you can help improve your riding which will not only make you far safer on the road, but also make your riding more enjoyable. Advanced riding can be carried out through organisations such as RoSPA and the Institute of Advanced motorists (IAM) and completing these courses can even help reduce your insurance premiums.
However, teaching doesn’t have to be quite so formal. There are off-road targeted schools such as the BMW Off-Road Skills or the Dave Thorpe Honda Off-Road Centre which provide more skills that can not only introduce you to a whole new way of riding, but also benefit your road skills through a better understanding of the motorcycle and its capabilities.
Track riding can also greatly help improve your skills and again, there are schools that can help get you started with this such as the Ron Haslam Race School or the California Superbike School.
For more help and information on getting started on two wheels, visit our New Rider section.