Riding Tips

Look where you are going.

Sounds obvious, but remember a bike will usually go where you are looking.  Also keep in mind your hazard perception, road hazards to avoid such as grids & manholes, road debris, animals, children playing, pedestrians and try to anticipate what you’ll do in any given situation & ask yourself “what if?” occasionally for example if approaching a parked ice cream van ask yourself “what if a small child ran across the road”, “What if he suddenly pulls out without warning”, “What if he turns his chimes on & gives someone a fright”, “What if that person over there suddenly stops looking to see where you are going because they have got distracted by the thoughts of ice cream” & try to prepare yourself for any such eventuality. Look ahead with your eyes & mind to note any possible traffic dangers in your way.

Treat everyone on the road as unpredictable.

This might sound ridiculous, but when you ride on the road, you need to imagine everything and everyone is out to hit you. A lot of people aren’t looking for motorcycles on the road.   They’ll see a car, but they might not necessarily see your bike, no matter how brightly coloured or lit it is.  This isn’t meant to be a statement to scare you but you can’t do anything about other people on the road, but you can control how you ride. Pay absolute attention, anywhere a vehicle is going to try to enter moving traffic from a stand-still, in addition remember Just because their indicator is on doesn’t mean they are going to turn, it may be they have just not noticed it’s still on from the previous junction or of course you’ll discover someone on every journey will pull out or turn without indicating in the first place so anticipate this…  Just a lapse in concentration could mean you’ll not be ready to move out of the way or brake as necessary.  If you can see someone’s mirror, they can most likely see you.

Don’t forget….

Remember to check the bikes kill switch if it won’t start. also remember once the bike engine starts, turn off that choke as the engine will stop & leave you wondering why if you forget.  Check your mirror positioning as mirrors can be easily knocked & moved by passers by or even yourself before you set off, make sure the side stand is raised before setting off. In addition try to keep holding the front brake in mind, when the bike is pointed down hill & when sitting stationary at traffic lights or junctions, keep the rear brake held until you are ready to move off.  Always remember to remove that lock or chain.. talking chains, check your bikes chain before you head out. If that chain or drive belt is in bad condition, slack, or badly adjusted, it can break. At the least, that means you’re walking home but it can also cause you to have an accident.  Finally, check for any oil or other fluids leaking anywhere on the bike – look at anything that has fluid inside eg engine cases, brake pipes & components, cooling system if fitted) or if the seals on the forks need to be replaced, you may see some fluid seeping out. If anything, get your bike checked out by someone who knows what they’re doing.  also remember to turn your fuel on. most bikes have a tap to turn on the fuel & if you fail to turn the tap on you are going nowhere or the bike will grind to a halt once the fuel bowl & pipe is empty.

Check the fuel level in the tank.

Some bikes have fuel gauges. Others don’t. It’s not a small bike or old bike thing, it’s often just a style decision by the manufacturer, regardless of the age or type of your bike. If you know your bike’s estimated MPG and its fuel capacity, you can set a trip meter on the bike or note the mileage from the clock to tell you when you need to start looking for a fuel stop – about every 50-100 miles or so if you are thinking of any basic indication after a fuel stop seems sensible to start thinking about when you need to stop for fuel again.  There is no shame in taking the cap off the petrol tank & giving the bike a shake to see how much petrol is in the tank before setting off or when stopped. Many tanks also have a reserve setting on the fuel tap with a remaining extra pint or 2 of petrol to get you to a petrol station but be aware where this petrol sits in the tank is also where any sediment settles so when switching to reserve you may be pulling debris settled at the bottom of the tank through the fuel system, so only switch to reserve if you are stuck & never ride permanently on the reserve tank setting. chances are that you’ll have a fuel tap with three positions: ON, OFF, and RES & the lever itself will indicate which is selected & it’s usually a good idea to know each position without looking in case you need to reach down & turn the tap if the bike starts to cough or splutter due to not getting any fuel.
If your bike is a 2-stroke machine.
The 2 stroke oil lubricates the engine as unlike a 4 stroke engine, the 2 stroke engine doesn’t have a sump so the oil to lubricate the engine has to be mixed with the fuel either by being fed from a separate tank behind a side panel or under the seat or if there is no oil tank – some bikes don’t have them or some riders simply just don’t trust them – it has to be mixed directly in with the petrol at the time of filling the petrol tank & it’s not something you can do when you get home, it has to be done when fueling.  You must make sure the oil tank is topped up & kept as full as possible at all times or you have a bottle handy if you need to premix the oil in with the petrol if the bike does not have an oil tank.  Without lubrication from the oil the engine will go bang or seize which means a large repair bill as most of the moving parts in the engine will be junk, plus a rebore of the cylinder(s) will most likely be in order & that means potentially a long time without a bike.  It’s also an idea with a 2 stroke bike to ensure the throttle cable is operating correctly as the oil tank usually operates from a separate or a Y shaped cable from the twist grip.  Always remember to check any pipes that carry the oil are in good condition or have a strong connection – it’s a good idea to do this when cleaning the bike.  if you are unsure or think there could be a problem you can always pre-mix the fuel, ask a dealer on the ratio of oil to fuel (many bikes are around 30:1 – 30 parts petrol to one part oil as that’s what the engine will need -, but this differs on every bike, some can be as high as 20:1 or even down to 50:1 so make sure you have this knowledge to hand) for your bike plus ask them how to show you how to premix the fuel, sometimes it’s indicated on the oil bottle or the dealer may suggest an easy solution or tips based on their knowledge, such as a couple of yogurt pots of oil tipped into to a full tank of petrol should be sufficient for the bike you, so always keep an empty pot under the seat or in the top box if that’s the case & of course mark where you need to fill it to, some bikes have a measuring cup on the underside of the filler cap.

Dress to spill.

You never want to think about going down. Sad fact is, even if it’s just a minor off, most riders will go down at some point in their riding career.  You’re more likely to go down when you’re just starting out, since you lack experience. There’s a huge amount of armored gear to choose from to protect yourself if and when you do fall. Jeans, sports wear & track suits will shred if you have a nasty fall, and you’ll get some terrible (and painful) road rash. Some companies offer Kevlar-reinforced clothing, which are slightly better than normal clothing, but armored jackets or leather trousers are better still because they’ll protect you better especially your back, elbows, knees and hips.  If it’s a hot day, even though it’s hot, wear a couple of layers for protection as bare skin or athletics equipment is not very good at crash protection. If you’re going to be out for a long period of time, chances are the good temperatures will change later in the day. You’ll feel it more than anyone else when you’re out on two wheels, even normal road speeds makes you feel like the temperature is far less than your local weather forecast says it is. Keep that in mind.  Staying covered when it’s hot also helps keep you from dehydrating or getting severe sunburn.

Gloves & footwear

If you crash or are trying to prevent a fall on a bike the 1st thing to hit the road are usually your hands, knees or feet as you naturally try to stop yourself from falling.  Roads can get slippery for a number of reasons. Rain and snow are the obvious ones, but sometimes oil, diesel and other fluids drip all over the road.  Tree sap can also play it’s part if the road is lined with trees. Steer your bike around any weird looking puddles or peculiar looking marks you may see on the road if you can, but sometimes stuff just coats the surface of the road and makes it slippery and there’s no way to avoid it & sometime the inevitable will happen & you’re going down. When it comes to gloves, try to imagine running your hands down a brick wall, then usually the level you feel you can do this without pain is where you want to be when buying gloves – if those gloves will still hurt your hands if running them down the wall, then go for something better.  When you put your feet down at a stop, you want to be sure that whatever shoes you’re wearing will grip the road securely, not slip and slide and make you feel like you’re going to drop the bike. That’s another reason why we recommend motorcycle-specific boots, but any good non-slip boot such as work boots that come above the ankle line – even Derri boots – are going to better than pumps or trainers.  Also if the worst happens & you come off, the canvas or paper thin leather on those slick looking expensive (or even the cheap) trainers won’t protect you any more than just riding in your socks.  Plus, with proper bike boots your ankles are better protected from grazes & your ankle kept secure as it will prevent your ankle from twisting.  Extra support in the toes will also help not only protect your feet but also help when operating the foot controls on a bike such as the gear lever & rear brake.

Check your tyres.

Do a thorough visual check regularly to be sure your tyres look like they’re in good condition, be mindful of cuts or nicks or debris lodged in them. Even stones can cause serious tire damage so remove them from the tread. If you see a star pattern in a tyre this may be an indication of glass embedded in the rubber so it’s an idea to get the tyres checked by a bike dealer or tyre specialist to see if the glass can be removed or the tyre needs to be replaced immediately.  Spin the wheels around so you can see the tyre from all angles.  Any sudden tire blowout on a bike can result in serious injury or death, so take a couple minutes to check.  Tyre pressure means you’ll get the best handling performance out of your bike. Low tyre pressure can make your bike incredibly difficult and dangerous to control, high tyre pressures mean there is less rubber in contact with the road which makes the bike skittish, so make sure your pressures are correct for your bike – ask a dealer or consult the specifications of your bikes tyre pressures or PSI ratings online.  Use a good tire gauge to check your pressure & if needs be carry one in your jacket’s pen pocket to check the pressures regularly. Also don’t trust the gauge on the airline at the petrol station, these are often damaged or not calibrated, so do a manual check if needs be with a pocket gauge. Don’t forget to put your valve stem caps back on before you head out.


Enjoy Yourself

The best tip anyone can give about biking is the one you should never forget.. Biking can be fun.  It’s a great way to make new friends or socialise with your pals, gain new experience of the road which will help if/when you ever transfer to other forms of transport, you even have adventures without even trying to be adventurous & it will create memories which can last a lifetime.  Even the learning is part of the fun with training instructors who were once in exactly the same position you are as a learner rider so they are real people with real experiences who understand what it’s like to be 16 or above with little or no experience of the road, so they expect you to make mistakes & learn from it.  OK, so above & across the website we’ve talked a lot about the serious things that may not seem enjoyable at first & we understand that it may of taken some convincing to get mum & dad to allow you to buy your first bike, but the experience of motorcycling as a whole can be a life changing hobby that before you know it you are eager to get out on the bike just to go places with no other purpose than just being out on the bike.  If taken seriously or just for leisure or commuting, motorcycling can be enjoyed with an experience unique to the type of transport.

Have fun.