Danger Zone | Top 10 things motorcyclists should definitely avoid

Whether you're new to riding a bike or an old hand, here are somethings that a motorcyclist should just never do, ever.

Romano Fenati, Niklas Ajo

THE list of things you should always do on a motorcycle is pretty huge, ride on track, cross Europe, learn how to wheelie – it’s pretty much an endless chain of fun things you can do with your two-wheeled best mate.

Thankfully, the list of things you should never do with – or on – your bike is pretty small. We can only think of ten absolute no-nos in fact. So, save yourself the embarrassment, pain, and the cost of a mishap, and please, don’t do any of these things!

1. Never leave your bike unsecured

Leaving a bike without a chain or at the very least a disclock fitted is like sticking a neon sign next to it saying, ‘nick me’. In the (tiny) brain of a motorcycle thief, they are generally just looking for the easiest bike in the bike park to pinch. All you have to do is make yours less attractive to them than the one next to it. It only takes a second to attach a disclock, don’t let that second cost you your bike, or at the least your insurance excess.

2. Never assume they have seen you

Car drivers (that don’t ride) are a weird species. Their brains are wired differently to ours and spending a lifetime in a car means they forget that outside of the cage is a real world with real people and actual living families at home.

For that reason, it’s always worth assuming that the car at the junction/roundabout/red light hasn’t seen you. And then you need to act accordingly. For the most part, this will mean slowing down and making room for you to stop or avoid them if they do pull out.

3. Never wait in line

Filtering is one of the many perks of riding a motorcycle. Granted, it must be done correctly and at the right time but, getting where you are going 20 minutes quicker than if you were in a car is part of the gig with bikes, even if it does piss off certain car drivers left in your wake.

Filtering also has other advantages, mainly it could actually help prevent you from getting squished. Not sitting at the very end of a line of stationary traffic means if somebody does somehow miss the thousands of brake lights and runs into the back of the queue, you are nowhere near the scene of the accident.

Read our guide to better filtering here.

4. Don’t take it to heart

As mentioned above, some drivers get really pissed off when you efficiently waft past them as they sit stationary in traffic. They don’t see the fact that you are riding legally and doing something that actually eases congestion as a whole on the road network.

Many will try and block your way with their car or drive in a way that is meant to impede you and slow you down. Try not to get stressed, that’s what they want after all. The best way to really get under their skin is to calmly and smoothly change to another lane and filter off into the distance like the most zen rider on the planet.

5. Never ride out of your comfort zone

It gets drilled into us on every press launch – ride at your own pace and don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with. The same goes for your Sunday ride with your mates. Go your own speed and at your own pace and the ride will be safer and more enjoyable.

It’s a good idea to pick some ground rules before you set off if you’re going out with a group, find someone who seems to ride at your pace, and stick with them.

To read our guide to better group riding, click here.

6. Never wear the incorrect kit for the conditions

We aren’t talking about riding out in just a hoody and jeans here, we’ve all nipped to the shop down the road on a bike like that – as long as at the least you are wearing some gloves, boots, and your lid obviously. What I’m talking about is heading out on a sunny afternoon when there is a 90% chance of sleet and snow later that afternoon.

Getting cols and wet is a sure-fire way to having a shit time on a bike. Check the weather, dress appropriately, and don’t let yourself get too cold. Every part of your body is utilised when you ride a bike. Science people tell us that our body responds badly to instructions when it’s cold. From that, we can tell that when we are frozen to the core, we are worse motorcyclists than we could be.

7. Never modify your bike without knowing what it will do to it

We aren’t talking adding a slip-on end can here or swapping your indicators for LED ones. This is more about undertaking braking, suspension and engine mods without first having the knowledge and experience to carry the work out correctly or knowing how the change will affect the bike.

The lure of not having to pay expensive garage bills is strong but, cocking it up and needing to take your bike to a specialist to have your cack-handed work rectified will cost even more. At the least get your most experienced (least bolshy) mate to come to give you a hand. I’d say turn to internet forums but for the most part, asking for help from them turns into a slanging match between users regarding who knows best!

8. Never stick to one insurer

Insurance is a frustrating business, I should know – I worked for the biggest UK motorcycle insurer for ten years prior to this gig! The business model is always to get you on the hook in year one and then ramp up the premium in year two. Almost all policies sold will lose money in the first year, through aggregator (comparison site) fees and negative commission on the broker's side. It’s obvious they’ll try and recoup some of that cost in year two.

Always shop around, always try at least two comparison sites, and always read reviews about what the company is like if you do need to make a claim – that’s the time you need a good insurer behind you after all.

9. Never be a know it all

The bike world is a funny little bubble, isn’t it? We all share a common interest but will all argue like kids about which bike is best or how to do X, Y, or Z better than we do. Nobody likes a smart arse, but they seem to be everywhere. Instead of broadcasting your opinion as fact to all, try listening to, talking about, and even trying other people’s ideas.

10. never compromise on the bike you want – within reason

Buying the wrong bike is a mistake you’ll have to live with until you manage to flog the thing. At that point, you’ll still want the one you should have brought two years ago and by now the price of that will have gone up and the price of yours will have dropped like a stone. There’s no science to it – it just seems to be the way the universe works.

Now, you have to take this one with a pinch of sensible salt – hell, we’d all love an RCV or a Desmocedici in the garage, but they’ll have to wait until the lottery numbers come up. Not buying the bike you want because of a grand cash or £30 a month on a PCP deal will only fill you with regret every time you get on the damn thing.