Many of the tips for maintaining our vehicles and saving fuel are as applicable to bikes as they are to cars. But here at MotorKwirks, we don’t like to leave stones untouched! So therefore, here are 7 bike specific daily riding tips, to keep us safe, prevent us from crashing, and save us a lot of money as a result!
For many bikers it’s a case of ‘four wheels good, two wheels vastly superior in every way’. Or something like that. Certainly, when it comes to the daily commute, the bike may have an important role to play. In the current climate, with many being asked to stay off public transport, it could be the answer. It could save time and money long term. But what tips can we apply to make our lives easier and our bank accounts happier?
Firstly, it’s critical to perform basic checks on a regular basis, like tyres, oil, chain and brakes. These components are all more exposed on motorcycles than they are on cars, and are therefore more vulnerable to the elements. It’s also useful to have additional oil supplies available should the level be low. A quick daily glance and a tyre press may be enough once we get to know the machine, but we will rarely be penalised for being too careful. On top of all this, ensuring that the lights all work is key. This will aid with visibility, and is also a legal requirement. Fines for falling short on this are expensive, while spare bulbs are cheap so it’s worth keeping a few, just in case.
The other type of check it’s important to perform is know as the life-saver. It’s the biker’s way of checking their blind spots. A quick glance over both shoulders should make sure we don’t get too familiar with a car’s bumper. A check while we turn, overtake or pull away is a great habit to get into. Any time we are changing position, a life saver will do as it says on the tin.
It’s very important to know where the other road users are, and do our best to ensure they’re aware of us. We need to keep ourselves as visible as we possibly can, so avoid blind spots where possible. If we stay in the middle of our lane for the majority of the time, we are in the best possible position for a safe arrival. Straying to either the left or right hand side of our lane may invite following (and impatient) traffic to attempt an overtake. Moving away from the middle is clearly necessary when negotiating a turn, but our indicators should signal our intentions for following traffic. It’s also wise to ensure that we’re never too close to any vehicles in front. This is both for braking distances, and to allow us to manoeuvre round the vehicle in front should it break down.
Speed is always a hot topic. We go too fast, we skid, we crash and things quickly snowball from there. There are a few aspects to speed. The first is the question of how fast we go when alone. How fast we are comfortable to ride is key, because we also need to consider how able we are to react to the unexpected. Adding further complication to the equations are the different riding conditions we encounter. Riding in the rain requires more margin for error than when it’s dry, as the bike won’t have as much grip. I’ll expand on this in the next main section. The main overall aim is to always be able to stop in the distance we can see to be safe and obstacle-free. Crashing into the back of a vehicle is embarrassing and expensive. Avoid where possible.
If we’re commuting, we’re likely to be filtering. When doing this, it’s best not to exceed the traffic speed to by too much. If the difference is about 15-20 mph, that is a good starting point. This will give us more time to react accordingly if a car door opens or a driver suddenly swerves. It happens, and I’ve been unfortunate enough to see varying levels of injury result from this.
Maybe we are lucky enough on our commute to have some nice corners to attack before we get to the office. The ability to corner safely (and at a reasonable pace) can make or break the motorcyclist, as most have the ability to twist the throttle and leave cars behind. Before we enter the corner, we should ideally have all our braking and gear changing out of the way. The art of cornering relies on the bike being as balanced as possible. This way we are less likely to fall off, and falling off is expensive.
We set ourselves up for cornering by positioning ourselves so we can see as far around the corner as possible. This may be in the centre, or near the outer edge depending on the corner. Cornering on a bike requires a particular technique known as the counter-steer. This is where the rider will apply a bit of forward pressure on inside handlebar. The act of doing this causes the bike to lean into the corner. This takes a bit of practice to become second nature, but it will pay dividends when it does. It also means you can take a consistent line through a corner, and avoid trying to recreate a mathematical shape on your way to the office. Constant line changing mid corner is not good for bike stability. Or rider image, if that matters.
Ideally, throughout the corner it’s good to be using a small degree of throttle. In most cases the rear tyre on a bike is larger than the front one, so let’s make use of that by balancing the weight distribution. It’s also easier to smoothly increase the throttle if it’s already applied. When we see the corner opening up, a gentle throttle application will help the bike naturally stand up, and we can accelerate to the next bend. If it tightens, backing off will allow the machine to turn tighter. In all cases, being smooth is key as we don’t want to unsettle the machine. Smoothness is also good for component life and tyre wear, as discussed previously. It’s also especially important when riding in slippery conditions.
Finally, our attitude matters. We need to ride as if everyone else on the road has our worst intentions at heart. They probably don’t but a mindset that queries and always looks for the unexpected is likely to serve us well. And keep our accounts in credit. It pays to always be prepared when doing everyday riding.
Don’t forget to have a look at the Blog: Journeys of Focus, which majors on real life experiences and applying various money saving tips, some of which are just as applicable to two wheels as to four. Feel free to also get in contact. Thanks for reading!