The following safety riding tips are from my own experience but I highly recommend, if you are a new rider or haven’t ridden for some time you take Rider Training at a well recognized and approved school, such as Humber Collage!
Early spring riding: Before you know it spring will be just around the corner. So, first time out this coming spring; be carful! You will find the roads are loaded with winter salt, sand and other debris which are typically not cleaned off until later in the spring and will “have you off” if not carful of conditions! Don’t speed into or accelerate hard out of corners, allow for engine braking, use brakes smoothly and progressively if needed.
When Country riding: Slow down, in particular in the corners where vehicles tend to throw sand and stones back onto the road surface all year. Never go into a corner faster than you are prepared to go around it comfortably and safely. Entering corners toward the outside of the bend with a safe margin to the shoulder is the best position for visibility and set up to lean into the corner apex (close to but not over the center line). This will allow you a safer margin with more room to exit the corner without drifting out onto the soft shoulder. The less experienced rider should remember to have their motorcycle under full control thru corners. Adjusting speed with brakes while your leaned over should be refrained from unless absolutely necessary and only then apply smoothly with prudence. Braking in corners is a learned technique which you will get better at with more experience, otherwise all braking should be performed while the bike is upright and under control prior to entering a corner. If you inadvertently hit the soft shoulder going wide on a corner, don’t panic, keep both feet on the foot pegs, grip the tank with your knees, hold the bars steady, move your weight forward over the tank, don’t touch the brakes and gradually steer the bike back onto the road.
Emergency stopping: Your front brake is your main stopping brake; even application of both brakes together will normally apply approx 70% front and 30 % rear bias. Most modern Sport Bikes come from a race proven background and generally utilize the latest braking technology. By design they have more brake bias to the front wheel for high speed stopping (the wedge effect) making the rear wheel weight very light under extreme braking, the brake bias in this case I estimate would be closer to 90/10% or less under heavy braking! Remember to keep both feet on the foot pegs when braking otherwise you unbalance the bike and will go down! Keep you’re your head up, looking strait ahead, knees gripping the fuel tank, elbows down arms bracing your body and gear down quickly to first for quick take off from stopping if required. So learn to apply your motorcycle brakes properly, learn the full potential of your brakes by carefully and safely practicing on a clear dry area void of traffic, you will be amazed how quickly your motorcycle will stop!
Highway riding: Simple, stay away from traffic! I’ll clarify, don’t allow you’re self to be boxed in by vehicles, always find the open spaces move up ahead or drop back from traffic. If you can’t do either move to the inside lane and take up as much space as possible using the left wheel track, always leave yourself “an out”!.
Normal cruising, Keep in the left third of the lane this gives you good heads up visibility, aggressively defend your space, be seen, let traffic know where you are by moving in to their line of sight, never ride in a cars blind spot! Cars will overtake you “in your lane” if you ride to the right side of the lane, cars will also pull out in front of you if you are overtaking or in the overtaking lane, they don’t see you. High beams and loud pipes are good for letting car drivers know where you are, but don’t count on it!
In the City: My number one rule is: ride as though EVERY car at an intersection or in a driveway will pull out in front and in full view of you! Watch every drivers face check their view as you get closer, do they see you or not? This and cars turning left in front of you is the number one cause of motorcycle accidents and deaths I believe. Keep to the right to be seen at intersections, especially by oncoming traffic, keep your eyes sweeping the road and laneways way ahead at all times for movement. City streets are particularly slippery in the wet, try to ride without having to rely on your brakes as much. Motorcycles typically have good engine braking power. Remember your front brake is best and if needed in an emergency, even when slippery, will still stop you quickly. Due to weight and loading bias to the front, typically, using rear brake only especially when wet, will cause the back end to swap with the front. By the way, I have met a number of MC cruiser drivers who have just passed their test and after all the great training they received revert back to using the rear brake only! Apparently, their peers have steered them back to this folly which is typically an old rider mentality myth and one that will surely get you hurt! Last but not least don’t drink and ride a motorcycle, you would think that this would be obvious for two wheelers but you would be surprised that deaths do occur from riding and drinking.
Protection: Always wear the right equipment, wear proper riding boots with good ankle protection, wear pants, jackets and gloves designed to protect you in the event of an unplanned fall! Most important, invest in a good helmet designed for optimum protection. See your local Motorcycle Dealer for advice; don’t buy gear for looks only!
Ride with care and have fun
Written by Alan Masters
Host, In Search of The Ultimate Two Wheel Classics
Rogers TV Show