Everyone knows that riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than a car, and it is a good idea to take a motorcycle safety course before you ever think about taking a bike out on the open road. It will really teach you a lot of things that you will never pick up on your own after years of driving a bike, and these small things really can mean the difference between eventually having a bad accident and maintaining a pristine road record. Here are some counterintuitive tips that can really help with your riding.
1. Straighten Up Before Swerving
When a rider is going around a corner and something suddenly appears in their path, like a large rock or a car, it is their typical instinct to immediately swerve out of the way. This often leads to big trouble as correcting sharply or changing direction even slightly in a deep turn can easily lead to losing control of the bike and crashing to the ground.
Whenever you are in a turn and something sudden comes of nowhere in your path, your first move needs to be to slow down, straighten the bike up, and then swerve around the obstacle or pull to the side of the road (if you can, get off the bike and remove any obstacles that are lying in the road, to protect other drivers, but be careful if it is a particularly blind corner).
It is a good idea to practice this off the road if you can – the more you do it the more intuitive it becomes.
2. Look Into the Curves
Another thing about turning that is pretty counterintuitive is that you always want to look into your curves. In fact, you want to look deep into your curves. Many riders make the mistake of looking straight ahead or to either side on a turn, but what you want to do is look up ahead and fix your eyes on the very spot you want to go, even if it’s not in visible sight. This neat trick will really surprise you when you find your bike going exactly where you look as if on its own.
3. Don’t Hug the Shoulder
I’m a big fan of defensive driving in any vehicle, and when you’re on a motorcycle, it is normal to be extremely nervous about any other vehicles around. You should be.
But one instance where a lot of motorcycle riders make a critical mistake is when they are on a fast-moving road and being tailgated, especially if there are a lot of aggressive drivers on the road. Many inexperienced riders will hug the shoulder in order to allow the other drivers to get around and go by.
But this is a mistake.
Hugging the shoulder like that doesn’t just let them go by – it encourages them to pass unsafely. And because you are on the side of the road, you are exposed to other dangers that might sneak up without warning even while you have the aggressive driver passing roadside. To make matters worse, any other driver coming from behind may not even see you because you are pulled off to the side.
Stay in the middle of the lane as if you were in a car. If the driver behind you gets too aggressive, pull off the road at the next safe turnout and then let them pass that way. Otherwise, they can use the passing lane like everyone else.
4. No Sudden Stops
Another danger in a motorcycle is stopping suddenly when we think we are about to get in an accident – much like swerving in a turn. It is always instinct to stop when we are about to hit something. After all, the last thing we want to do is hit it. But the problem is that a vehicle with two wheels is much less stable and top-heavy, and suddenly grabbing the brakes at high speed will very often lead into a slide and then a tumble. In some cases, you may even fly over the handle bars.
First off, drive at slow speeds and always be aware of what is going on. You should have a bigger safety cushion than when you are driving a car. If a danger comes out of nowhere, the best bet is to slow down and pull into a different path of movement at the same time, steering away or around the threat.
As I said before, a motorcycle training course can really do you a lot of good when it comes to learning these little counterintuitive things most riders never think of. Meanwhile, keep some of these tricks in mind and do your best to stay safe out there. And have fun!