1. Wear a Helmet:
By law you must wear a helmet and it must be fastened. Head injuries are the major cause of death for motorcyclists.
Never buy a secondhand helmet, you do not know its history.
A helmet is a one impact only piece of equipment.
Ensure your helmet is ECE R22:05 or 22:06 approved, a legal requirement for helmets sold in the UK.
Ensure your helmet fits properly, it shouldn’t be too tight or too loose.
Full face helmets offer more protection than open face helmets.
2. Protect Your Feet:
The right footwear is important to riding safely:
To change gear you lift up with your toes – trainers and open-toed shoes become painful fast.
When you’re riding a bike, you’re sitting over a hot engine and exhaust system, meaning you can burn easily.
Motorcycle specific boots are the best protection your feet will have.
Look for something with a rugged sole, when stationary at a stop and using your feet to balance, the last thing you want to do is slip and drop your bike.
Motorcycle boots will have good ankle support making it easier for you to balance.
Motorcycle boots made from good quality leather offer better protection.
3. Get the Right Gear:
We’ve all seen people on motorcycles in shorts and flip flops. A motorcycle offers little protection in a crash, what riders wear is part of the crash protection system. Even if you aren’t in a crash with another vehicle, you could simply lose control and lay the bike down and you’ll be sliding along the tarmac. And that is not something you want to do in shorts.
There’s a reason a lot of bikers wear leather: it’s strong enough to protect their skin in a slide along the road surface. Motorcycle riders are exposed to many other hazards on the road; small stones, bugs & flys and all manner of other airborne material.
But it’s not all about the leather. Many manufacturers specialise in armoured motorcycle gear, and it doesn’t have to be leather, modern textile jackets and trousers offer good protection from the road as well as flying objects. There’s even armoured jeans and all manner of other styles of jackets and trousers. You can get vented motorcycle jackets that keep you cool while keeping you safe. These jackets are made of lightweight, breathable material, but have heavy-duty armour panels in key places (along the spine, torso, shoulders and elbows) all designed to protect the wearer against flying debris, as well as protect you in an accident.
At 60 miles per hour even a small stone can sting like hell causing a distraction and maybe a crash, good gear will help protect you from that stone, and maybe, just maybe, prevent that crash….
4. Look Twice:
Motorcycles are small and difficult to see, meaning many drivers miss them, causing collisions that are often fatal.
Never assume that a driver has seen you.
As a rider ask yourself the question “Has that driver seen me??”
Ride defensively and take responsibility for your own safety.
5. Educate Your Pillion (Passenger):
Riding a bike with a pillion is all part of the fun, but your passenger has a role to play in keeping both of you safe.
Make sure your pillion has the right gear, they should wear a helmet, sturdy shoes and protective clothing.
Practice riding with a pillion, you will learn how your bike feels and your pillion will learn how they need to move with you when making manoeuvres.
Motorcycles aren’t as protective and stable as cars, riding a motorcycle in differing weather conditions brings more challenges and risks than driving a car.
Visibility and stability can be compromised.
Heat, cold and being wet are all factors that put a rider at greater risk.
Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly.
7. Stopping Distances:
One of the biggest mistakes riders make is not leaving themselves enough space.
Anti-lock brakes are still relatively new and many older models don’t have them.
Don’t grab or be harsh on the brakes, wheels can lock up and skid.
Practice braking in a safe environment, know how much space you need.
Remember – only a fool breaks the two second rule (4 in rain).
Keep an escape route open to the side (onto the hard shoulder, for example) if you can’t stop in time.
Observations and concentration are key to staying safe on a motorcycle. Remember, motorcycles are hard for drivers to see, you need to anticipate and avoid other’s mistakes.
Take regular breaks.
Use all your senses.
Remain in proper control at all times.
Don’t ride when distracted eg when angry or sad.
9: Ride Within Your Limits:
Riding a motorcycle is a skill, and like all skills it needs practice.
Always ride within your own skills and abilities.
Avoid trying to keep up with friends who ride faster than you.
Don’t blindly follow the rider in front.
Make your own decisions.
10: Take an Advanced Motorcycle Training Course
In our opinion additional training after passing your motorcycle test is essential. As riders we never stop learning and whilst there are great opportunities to learn from books, the media and the internet, nothing substitutes for practical training. There are many routes to improving your skills; for example by joining IAM or RoSPA and taking an advanced riding course. Or if you’re interested in track riding, try a track day with instructors. These schools are not only fun, but they help you safely build your skills so that you’re safer on the road.
Click the below links to find out more about advanced training:
Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM)
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)