Now that spring is just around the corner, motorcycle enthusiasts around the country are gearing up to experience the freedom of the road that biking offers.
Whether you’re a motorbike newbie, or an experienced rider, if you’re getting back on your bike for the first time in a while, you’ll need to take the same steps to keep yourself, and other road users, safe on the road. Richard Gladman, Head of Driving and Riding Standards at IAM RoadSmart - the UK’s largest independent road safety charity – has put together some tips to help you get yourself and your bike ready for spring:
Is your motorcycle, and you, in working order?
If you’ve just taken your bike out of your garage, make sure it’s survived lockdown. This means checking the chain is in good condition. If you have stored it with old petrol and haven’t used your vehicle for a duration of time, you may need to work on your fuel system to ensure it is running well. The last thing you want is to breakdown.
Do your POWDERY checks. Check or remove old petrol and replace with new petrol, if needed. Ensure you have enough oil and inspect for any damage to the bike itself. Are all of your electrics and tyres in working order? And lastly, are you fit to ride?
Your first ride back on the road
Pick a familiar road. Don’t get too over-confident and make sure your first ride is not a challenging one. By choosing a road you are accustomed to, you can settle in gently and get comfortable with your motorcycle.
Remember to be honest with yourself. If you think you’re a bit rusty on the road, could you do with some extra training to keep yourself, and those around you, safe on the road?
Lockdown has changed the dynamic of the road
Is this the first time you’ll be riding for a while? You may be surprised to see more cyclists and horse riders out on the road. This means you may have to adapt your riding to certain roads you were once familiar with, such as country roads. Bear in mind that some of these road users may not be as experienced as others so take your time, be patient and make sure not to make them feel intimidated.
If safe to do so, move over to the other side of the road and give cyclists a car’s width of space (minimum 1.5 metres). And for horses, ensure you pass wide and slow.
Watch out for deterioration of the roads. Road signs may be hidden, there may be more potholes and hedges may have over-grown. With lockdown restricting the progress of road works, road maintenance may have taken a bit of a hit, resulting in poor conditions to ride on.
Communicate with other road users and prepare for situations to arise
Communicating with other road users not only helps tell them what you’re doing, it gives them a chance to plan their next move. For example, you may have a view of what is past a bend whereas others may not. Are there traffic lights? Is there a cyclist ahead? Communicate with other road users by showing your brake lights early where appropriate as you gradually slow down.
Always stay alert. When traffic has stopped, always aim for a gap and keep your motorbike at an angle so you have an escape route. Pay attention and do not switch off. Remember to observe, anticipate and plan ahead.
Richard said: “I’m excited to get my motorbike out of the garage now the weather is getting better. Before I go out and try and operate as an IAM RoadSmart employee, I’ll be going out to get my own riding assessed by a local Area Service Delivery Manager. With many of us being restricted in our riding due to lockdown, integrating peer reviews into our Advanced Rider Course restart plan was essential.”
“It’s important to remember that the dynamic of the road has changed with more vulnerable road users on the road. As riders, we need to ensure we’re fit to ride, along with our bikes, and that we accommodate for all types of road users.”
Would you like to build on your motorcycle skills? Become an expert on the road with our Advanced Rider Course.