Checking your skills are ready for city roads

The good news is BikeSafe holds regular rider skills days in some UK cities for motorbikes above 125cc which will give you an assessment on your current abilities and provide advice to help make your riding safer and more enjoyable.

To help new riders of smaller engined motorbikes, BikeSafe also runs ScooterSafe courses, especially aimed at moped and scooter riders.



Make sure your bike matches your needs and your ability

Motorbikes vary in design and price, but there are three main points to consider before purchasing any bike – your ability, your intended use of the bike and your budget. Always ask to take a bike for a test ride before purchasing it to ensure it matches all the points above. Before doing so, make sure that your driving licence covers you for the engine size of the bike and there is valid insurance in place. The likelihood is that a private seller will only have insurance for them and not for you! Always ask!

It’s also wise to do your research about the particular type of motorbike you are looking at. Consider using online forums to gather information about the bike. This will give you extra confidence when speaking to the dealer or seller.



Kitting out and protecting yourself

Always kit yourself out in the right protective clothing, regardless of the weather. Even if you’re only going a short distance, wear the proper gear and don’t compromise because it’s warm. You could be the most safety conscious rider, but you can never account for other road users. Serious grazing or ‘Road Rash’ as it’s commonly known is not something a pharmacy sells an ointment for!

The law requires you to wear a helmet, however you should also consider the rest of your body and use the right gear or you may as well ride in your birthday suit!



Weather conditions

Risks increase further if the weather is poor, so ride to the conditions and watch your speed – especially when there’s rain, snow or ice around.

In the wet, remember that your braking distance increases 4 times. Keeping your distance from other road users is critical, and raised hazard awareness will help reduce the risk.

Avoid metal inspection covers and painted road markings as these can be lethal in the wet. If you need to brake or accelerate on these lines or find yourself approaching an inspection cover, don’t panic. Ease gently on the brakes and relax!

In most situations, this can be avoided by planning your line and early hazard anticipation. Bikesafe will explain how best to do this so, if in doubt, book a session.



Planning your journey

There are lots of rider routes throughout the capital and half the fun of a bike trip is deciding where to go. Think about how far you want to travel and leave yourself plenty of time. Vary your route to give you a change in scenery and conditions as this will encourage you to look out for different and changing hazards.



Take your place on the road

It is important to remember that riders can use the bus lanes in the capital to help reduce travel times and increase the safety of both themselves and other vulnerable road users.

If you are in a bus lane, be particularly cautious as you approach a junction in case traffic on the main carriageway turns suddenly across your path.



The Law

The Highway Code is not only the rule book, but it gives essential basic advice on safer road use. Refresh your memory on signs and road markings applicable to you. The rules of the road can be easily broken if you don’t know what they are!


Ride decisively and defensively

It’s best not to weave between lanes or change direction suddenly. When you do need to change lanes, always check your mirrors, use signals to tell other road users your intentions and then give a quick over the shoulder glance as a final safety check. Be positive in your road position, and keep a constant eye out for potential hazards ahead to make sure you’re fully prepared to alter your course or speed when necessary.



Be Seen, Be Safer

Make sure you keep your lights in good working order and clean. Consider wearing bright clothing Hi Viz during the day, and keep your Hi Viz clean – wearing dirty Hi Viz simply defeats the object! At night or in poor visibility, you should consider reflective material on either your clothing or your bike … or, preferably, on both. Adding reflective material to your bike will help other road users notice you in all conditions. Remember, only silver or yellow reflective facing the front and red or orange to the rear when stuck to the motorbike.

Don’t rely on these extras to keep you out of trouble. Always assume that other road users haven’t seen you and act accordingly.



Securing your motorbike

Exercise caution when choosing a place to leave your motorbike parked. If you’re at all uneasy about its position or the area itself, then look for somewhere else – preferably for an area covered by CCTV

If you have to leave it out, make sure it’s locked and parked in a well-lit area, ideally on a busier stretch of road where it would be more obvious if someone attempts to steal the bike. Buying an alarm and or cover for your bike will certainly help deter potential thieves.



Most cities are blessed with numerous secure motorcycle parking areas. Find out if there are ones near you, or look for something else fixed to the ground such as security loops, stands, lamps or a road signpost that you can tether your motorbike to.