How not to be a chop when riding a bike

We have all come across a biker who thinks they know everything there is about riding a bike. They tell you all sorts of stories and provide advice on how to ride faster. This, just after they got off their bike from the trip corner cafe for a packet of smokes in their t-shirt, shorts and plakkies.

While that person might not have had an accident yet, if they do, they will wish they we more prepared before getting on the bike.

Now while I am not expert in this field, I can at least add that in the 6-7 years that I have been riding a sport bike, I have not been involved in any accidents, and it simply because of the following few simple rules which I try to follow every time.

Here my some of my motorbike safety tips

Protective Gear

Always wear the correct protective gear. No I am not saying put on full leathers every time you go somewhere, but at least a proper pair of shoes, pants with knee protectors, a leather jacket, gloves and a helmet. These few items might set you back a few grand initially but it will save you a lot more in the long run.

First 5km

For the first 5km of your trip, don’t push it! The reason for this is that the tires are still cold and don’t have much grip. Also, some studies have shown that many accidents happen close to home since people become more relaxed knowing that they are close to home and their concentration levels start to drop.

Everyone is out to kill you

Everyone on the road is out to kill you. Remember this. Don’t simply expect the car in front of you to know exactly where you are. Keep a proper distance so that if the person hits the brakes, you have enough time to stop or swerve out of the way. Watch out for animals, people and any other objects that might do something unexpected. Keep this though process looping through your mind constantly (until it starts coming naturally).

A clear line of sight

Something else I try to do, especially while riding on the highway and I am following other cars (or in the process of overtaking them) is to keep either to the far left or right of the car in front of me. This is so that I can see clearly what is happening in front of the car, or, in case they suddenly slow down I can easily go past on either side.

Slow down a little bit

We all like going fast, but when there are other cars in front of you, maybe all of them stuck behind a truck. Don’t simply overtake them all in one go by racing past them. In cases such as this, the other drivers in the cars are probably also getting frustrated with the slow vehicle and suddenly get the urge to overtake. When they do so, they might not notice there is a bike already coming and you will hit the back of the car. Rather slow down, and overtake the cars carefully until you have a clear road ahead of you.

Another very important fact to remember is that the roads are not there for you to race on. Potholes, sand and oil can, and will, appear on the road you used just the previous day. Rather test the speed of your bike on the track.

Break out the tool set

Make sure you bike is in good working order! Nothing can kill the vibe more so that someones bike breaking down while out riding. Check tire pressure and make sure it’s correct (check our some websites to see what the correct pressure is to use for your specific tires).

Lube the chain and make sure that it is not too loose and too right.

Ensure all the bolts on the bike are tight so that they don’t fall off.

Check the amount of engine oil and coolant and make sure that they are always filled up sufficiently.

If you can get to someone who knows their stuff or you know what you are doing, check you suspension settings and make sure that they are correctly set up for you.

Keep a small toolkit on the bike (normally under the passenger seat) so that if you need to make small repairs along the way you at least have the basic tools with you.

Service your bike either by yourself or at a decent bike shop. There they can check the more technical stuff and also repair it properly, apart from changing the oil, air filters,  plugs etc…

Go back to school

If you have the chance, go to a bike school or a track day. You will learn how to handle your bike and how the bike handles you. You didn’t learn algebra in one day, and so you wont learn how to ride a bike properly in one day. It takes time and many years of experience to master this skill. Also, trust me when I say that if you are an “OK” rider on the road, you are still not a good rider on the track. But if you are a good rider on the track, you will be a much better rider on the road.

See if you can get yourself some good videos on how to rider better, such as Keith Code’s “Twist of the Wrist”. You will learn plenty just by watching this. Remember to practice afterwards.

Hopefully these tips will help you out there. Remember that motorbike safety is imperative. If you have anything that you have learned over the years and would like to add, please let us know in the comments.

Happy weekend riding!

Edit

Added “Break out the tool set” section. Added more information to “Go back to school”.