Advanced Riding

Five tips for getting back on a motorcycle after a crash

Using a crash as the impetus to become a better rider

By Alan Dowds

BIKES can fall over – we all know this. And people can fall off them.

Hopefully it'll be something minor of course. But even the most insignificant spill can have lasting effects on your riding confidence. Worst case, some riders just give up altogether, unable to get their spirits up to get back on the road. Here, then, are some thoughts aimed at helping you return to riding after a crash.

1: Practicalities

If you've been injured, then screw the nut, and don’t rush back until you're properly healed. Head injuries and concussion can affect you for much longer than you may think, so if there's any dizziness or fuzzy thinking remaining, keep off the bike.

Similarly, broken bones or soft tissue damage can leave you weak, and unable to deal with minor incidents – like overbalancing at the lights, say. Stick with the bus or train till you feel 100%.

Ditto your bike: make sure any crash damage has been properly looked at and fixed before you venture out once more.

If you can, think over the crash in your head. It's important not to constantly dwell on it, or relive it over and over, but try to see what there is to learn from what happened. Did someone pull out on you? Was there unexpected debris in the road? What caused the events leading up to the crash? What could you have done to avoid it? Was it all your fault?

If you did screw up, and the crash was your fault, then you need to accept this, and take the learning on board. Nothing can undo what happened – and since you're reading this, you survived. Recognising any errors is the first step to not repeating them.

Sometimes the most worrying crashes are the ones that are, literally, no-one's fault. A deer or a dog, running out in the road as you ride along, well within the speed limit, and fully alert, can have you off in the blink of an eye. But worrying too much will be detrimental to your focus while riding, putting you more at risk. It’s impossible to completely eliminate risk from making a cup of tea, never mind riding a motorcycle – so move on.  

But if it was your mistake, there are other things you can do to avoid a repetition. Take responsibility for it and get training. Go on an advanced road riding course, skill yourself up by going on a track training day or an off-road course. If you've let your skills atrophy by not riding so much, then start getting out there a bit more to keep your two-wheeled senses sharp.

If you can treat a crash which was your fault as an opportunity to improve your riding, then getting back on your bike might well seem like the most obvious thing in the world.

  • Alan Dowds is a motorcycle journalist of more than 20 years, a fast road and track rider and a force of nature through town traffic.

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