Motorcycling – general advice for ‘born again’ riders.

If you’ve driven but not ridden for many years, you should have the hazard awareness, but the main difference on a bike is that you can be invisible to others, as they are not looking out for bikes.

If so the skills you most probably need are primarily in cornering, braking and throttle control.

‘Positioning‘ is also an issue for riders, with the default position near the crown of the road, so you can see and be seen, when it is safe to do so.

Particularly if you don’t have a bike fitted with ABS, you need to practise high speed braking. Find a clear streach of road and take care.

Squeeze the front brake lever gently at first, then as the front dips and bottoms out you can squeeze as hard as you like, as most of the weight will be on the front tyre. There is little danger of going over the handlebars as you would do on a bicycle, which stops many cycle riders braking properly or a motorbike. The main risk is locking the front wheel on non-ABS bikes.

You can initially press down hard on the rear brake, but you need to gradually release it to avoid locking the wheel as you slow, but it’s the front brake which is far more effective. It is critical to scrub off speed as quickly as possible.

You’ll probably survive a 30 mph impact, but not one at 40 mph, which is why head on crashes are usually fatal for all – the impact is the sum of the combined speeds.

Use the limit point, which is the furthest piece of continuous tarmac you can see, to judge entry speeds.

If you find yourself too hot into a corner, the trick is simply to look where you want to go, around the corner, pushing on the inside bar, which you will do naturally to lean the bike further, but can deliberately push on it if you need to. You can practise this positive ‘countersteering’ with care.

You can also use the rear brake, not the front brake mid corner if you need to, with care. Make sure your foot is hovering over the rear brake as you corner, and your not on the ball of your foot on the footrest.

You can lean a modern bike on any reasonable road surface until something scrapes – just need to be smooth and avoid panicking.

Particularly if you have a large capacity early sports bike without traction control, you need to use the throttle smoothly. Keep your foot over the rear brake if accelerating hard and press it if the front wheel comes off the ground.

Highsides are a real danger if accelerating hard whilst banked, which can result in serious injuries, again apply the throttle gently and smoothly as the revs rise, then if you do lose traction you’ll have a chance of shutting off and saving it.

If you have traction control, don’t rely on it saving you from a mid corner fall if you’re too ambitious with the throttle. From experience it may well prevent a high side, but you can still lowside and slide off.

Above all pay full attention at all times, and assume that you’re invisible.

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