Saving Lives Together

Riding tips & techniques

Choose the right motorcycle

Before you make a decision, follow these tips on how to choose the right motorcycle for you:
  • Talk to experienced riders, chat to knowledgeable staff in showrooms and refer to motorcycle websites.
  • Think about what sort of motorcycle will suit your needs, whether it’s for touring at weekends, everyday commuting, trips to the beach or a sports model.
  • Be realistic about your size, weight, and strength, as you will need to be able to manoeuvre quickly, efficiently, and confidently.
  • If upgrading to a more powerful bike after upgrading your licence, take time to practise or take a refresher course, as the handling is very different from smaller motorcycles.

Safe braking

  • ‘Setting up’ is braking lightly as you approach potential hazards, to give you more control and opportunity to react to unexpected events. It also:
    • prepares the motorcycle to stop without locking up the brakes.
    • prepares any drivers behind you that you may be about to brake hard.

If something unexpected happens and you need to avoid a crash:

  • Lean in to the swerve and then try and correct the motion as quickly as possible.
  • Check where you’re going to make sure you don’t end up in another crash.
If a blowout or rapid puncture occurs whilst you are riding:
  • Don’t brake – just gradually close the throttle down and try to steer straight.
  • Move your weight towards which ever tyre is still inflated.

Safe cornering

  • Adjust your speed coming up to a corner.
  • Ease off the brakes gently on entering the corner.
  • Change down to the appropriate gear to get you into and out of corners.
  • Allow for traffic and weather conditions.

In rural and regional areas, a typical motorcycle crash is a single vehicle run off road crash which can be caused by misjudging cornering.

  • Start corners wide to improve your vision of oncoming traffic.
  • Plan to finish in tight.
  • Move away from the central ‘head-on’ zone as you round the corner.

Difficult surfaces

A number of surfaces can provide a slipping hazard for motorcycles, including wet roads, painted lane markings and steel surfaces.

To ride safely on slippery surfaces:
  • Reduce your speed, so that you require less space to stop.
  • Reduce the amount of lean on the motorcycle when riding curves, by slowing down and/or leaning your body into the bend.
  • Gain more traction from riding in the tracks made by the car in front of you.
  • Look out for oil that often collects down the centre of a lane.

Steering shakes or 'wobbles'

Incorrect tyre pressure or weight distribution can lead to steering shakes or wobbles.

If it happens:
  • Grip the handlebars firmly but do not try to correct the steering.
  • Don’t fight the wobbling.
  • Gradually decelerate without braking suddenly.
  • Once the wobbling stops, pull over to a safe place.

Carrying a pillion passenger

Carrying any additional weight your bike will affect the handling of the motorcycle:
  • Only carry a pillion passenger or heavy loads if you are an experienced rider.
  • Have a suitable seat for your passenger and ensure they have suitable protective gear.
  • Adjust the rear suspension spring preload, mirror, headlight and tyre pressure to allow for the additional weight.
  • Ride at lower speed and adjust your buffer zone to allow extra stopping distance.
  • Keep conversation to a minimum to avoid distraction.
  • Do not make your passenger nervous as it could compromise safety.
Your passenger should:
  • Get on the motorcycle after you have mounted the motorcycle and started the engine.
  • Sit as far forward as possible and hold on to the waist of the rider or a secure part of the motorcycle.
  • Keep both feet on the foot pegs at all times, even when the motorcycle is stopped.
  • Stay directly behind you, leaning as you lean.

Tips and techniques for motorcycle riders Ride safe handbook