Motorcycle Safety & Tips - Taking the Bends
Losing control while going around a bend is probably the biggest cause of incidents involving motorcycles. Always remember that left hand bends present a bigger problem because if you lose control here you generally end up sliding towards oncoming traffic.
When cornering on a motorcycle you should always be aware of:
- Your position on the road – have you given yourself the best view of the bend?
- Your speed when entering the corner – are you going too fast for that particular corner or your skill? Adjust your speed before entering the corner, not whilst negotiating the bend. Be sensitive to your body reaction, if you are feeling tense you are probably going too fast.
- The gear your bike is in – use of a responsive gear will help you control the machine and could determine whether you could use your throttle to react to a situation.
- Your safe stopping distance – can you stop in the distance you can see, and on your own side of the road, if you need to? Always take the road conditions into consideration as your stopping distance will vary from day to day.
There are often little things you can look out for to give you information on the approaching corner. These little signals include:
- Chevron signs; these are a clear indication of a sharp bend.
- Road markings like ‘slow’ – they’re there for a reason!
- Tree lines, and hedgerows - may give some indication of which way the road bends.
- Vanishing points are a very good way to assess the severity of a bend. We recommend that you ask an advanced instructor for an explanation.
Some of the most competent riders in the UK are Police riders. They use a specific system that consists of five main parts.
1) Information - consider all the information available to you, both in front and behind, and allow for changes in the road surface, potholes or gravel and the effect that weather conditions have on the road.
2) Position – position yourself to minimize risks, assess all the hazards around you and be prepared to change position if the situation changes. You should ride in a defensive manner to protect yourself but take care not to become too assertive/aggressive in your riding. Ultimately you are the vulnerable road user and must protect yourself.
3) Speed – travel at a speed that you feel comfortable with and that allows you time to react. Be realistic in your assessment of your own capabilities - you control the bike at all times, not the other way round. Go into a bend slow and come out quick – going in too fast leaves little room for correction.
4) Gear – you may have heard the phrase ‘the throttle works both ways,’ but it will only do this if you have a responsive gear selected, so continually monitor your choice of gear.
5) Acceleration –acceleration must be progressive to maintain a good weight distribution to your tyres. Smooth use of the throttle is the hallmark of a good rider and reduces the likelihood of losing control.
Remember poor observation leads to poor anticipation and late planning – you are more likely to make a rash decision if you haven’t given yourself time to consider all the options.
Riding with a group of friends makes for a really rewarding time, but riding in groups does increase the risk of succumbing to peer pressure. The most important thing when riding in a group is to trust your own judgement and never doubt it. There may be quicker riders - though that doesn’t necessarily make them better riders – but stick to your own limits. That way your life on two wheels will be a lot of fun.