Passed your test and got your bike licence? Congratulations, but there's still a lot to learn. Do you want to take your riding to the next level? Here's eight things you need to know
Hugging the kerb or middle of the road?
A motorcycle's width, or its lack of it, gives riders huge flexibility for changing position to their best advantage. Moving a couple of feet to the right or left can make the difference between seeing approaching hazards or not and being seen by other drivers or not. And correct positioning in corners is key to smooth progress. Yet learners are taught to remain in a largely inflexible position a metre or so from the left-hand kerb. "The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) are so regimented on it," says Gary. "Moving towards the centre of the road is like slaughtering your first born to them, but positioning correctly on a bike is crucial."
Kevin explains that need not be the case:"I think it's partly a hangover from what was true 10 or 12 years ago. If you read the DSA manuals in depth they do say you should consider changing your position when dealing with a hazard. If one of my pupils is approaching an on-coming articulated lorry and they can just make out the headlamp of a car behind it, I would tell them to move to their left to give them line of sight to the car - see and be seen. The essence of that isn't very different from what you would do on an advanced test.
"There isn't quite the gulf there needs to be, but I would say a lot of CBT/DAS instructors will stick to the 'one third of the way across the lane from the left' position at all costs. That can be over-emphasised. You can position flexibly during learner training, but the examiner will be asking 'Do you know why you're doing it?' and if you are doing it are you moving to a safe position or making your life more dangerous?"
The key is to be flexible and think about the best place to be in any given situation. While moving to the centre of the road on the approach to a left-hander gives a much better line through the corner, rigid insistence on doing so every time doesn't take into account the occasions when it isn't safe: oncoming lorries, traffic waiting to turn out of a junction on your right or any number of other hazards might mean a position nearer the left is safer. Likewise, moving as far left as possible on the approach to right-handers may hide you from the view of cars turning right across your path, or put your tyres in debris at the side of the road.
Look at the picture on the left. By moving from a left-hand position to one nearer the centre of the road on this gentle curve, the rider has opened up his forward view to see all the way to the crest at 'A' . He has also brought himself out from behind the Land Rover in front, and into the view of any vehicles waiting to turn out of the driveway ahead ('B'). While this position opens up the forward view, it's not the best place to be in if there are oncoming vehicles, especially large lorries. If that was the case, sacrifice the enhanced view for a safer position back towards the left.
If you're experimenting with road positioning make sure you know what's going on around and behind before you move around too much - you don't want to be lurching across to the centre of the road as someone tries to overtake. Try small changes in position at first to improve your forward view on the approach to junctions and corners, but keep your movements smooth and don't put yourself in a position you're not comfortable with.
Continue for the class on counter steering
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