New rider: The five key skills that new riders need to master

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Ok, you have passed either your CBT or full bike test and you are therefore legally allowed to ride on the UK’s roads. Now it is time to forget those legal requirements that allowed you to gain that pass certificate and concentrate on what you actually need to learn to ride a bike safely on the road…


1: Roadcraft

For car drivers, it’s just Highway Code stuff: courtesy, roundabouts, junctions, road signs, etc. On a bike you need a little more: the ability to plan an overtake. To read a bend. To use the vanishing point. These are all skills that can’t be learnt by reading a book, or are really covered in a test, you need to get out there and practice and think about your riding.


2: Concentration

Long term riders don’t think about it. New riders are rapidly overwhelmed by the experience of riding and the brainpower it takes up. Don’t overdo it and go on a huge tour as soon as you have passed your test, build up your experience with lots of short trips so that you don’t lose concentration through fatigue when you do attempt that longer ride.


More new rider hints and tips

3: Environmental awareness

Wet leaves on the road. The whiff of diesel before a roundabout. Oncoming headlights in the dark. And on, and on. Either riders choose to see these clues, or they don’t. But it takes a rather special instructor to get a learner’s mind working on this level. So when you are riding, think about what is happening around you and how it may effect your ride and your bike.


4: Group riding

When you are new to riding it is all too easy to get sucked into a group rideout with more experienced riders. This inevitably leads to a new rider having to ride faster than they are comfortable with to keep up with the group for fear of getting lost or left behind. Keep that group ride until you have a few months experience under your belt or if you do go on one, ensure that one rider is prepared to stay with you and not shoot off into the distance. We all were learners once, you will definitely find a sympathetic ear within the group…


5: Machine control

The ability to turn your bike at the precise time and place you plan to. To brake hard in the wet without locking the wheel. To know what the right gear is, and the right revs. To take one line through a bend, rather than a fifty pence piece. In short, try to ride in a fluid, confident way.