Five of the most common motorcycle riding mistakes - and how to avoid them!

Nobody is a perfect rider, but one of the (many) great things about motorcycling is honing your skills over time - here are five of the most common mistakes all riders make.

Riding mistakes

None of us are perfect riders, and there’s never a point where you’ve learnt all there is to know about riding; that’s one of the things that’s so great about motorcycling.

What’s not so great is getting it wrong, which is why we've put together this list of five mistakes most of us make and how to avoid them.

The first rule of motorcycling, everyone always has something to improve! Anyway...

Mistake #1: Riding beyond your limits

It’s so easy to travel faster than you’re really comfortable with, but you often won’t discover you’re going too quickly until you’re panicking your way into an oncoming bend or finding that you're closing in on traffic in front far too fast.

We’re not just taking about riding fast here, we mean riding too quick for comfort: beyond your confidence and skill levels, which can make a gentle bend feel like a sharp corner. When this happens, you’re left with little room for error, and this is a common mistake that results in a lot of crashes where there’s no other vehicle involved - because if you don’t have the skill or confidence to make it through a bend, you could end up off the road or in the opposite lane.

How to avoid it

Be honest with yourself when it comes to your skill. If you’re riding with mates and they’re going a little quicker than you’re happy with, don’t be worried about backing off your pace – if your mates aren’t dicks, they won’t leave you behind and you won’t be at increased risk of parking you and your bike in a hedge.

Just ride for yourself, at a speed you’re comfortable with. And it's important to remember that your speed on a favourite route will vary day to day!

Mistake #2: Misjudging corners

Anyone who tells you they’ve never completely misjudged a corner is telling porkies. It’s a mistake even the most season rider can still make and is a common riding error because there’s so much to consider when it comes to getting through a corner – line, speed, turn in, approach, radius of turn – we could go on.

Misjudging a corner doesn’t necessarily mean crashing, it could mean running in too deep and having to brake mid-corner, crossing into the opposite lane or not being able to follow your chosen line through the turn.

How to avoid it

Get your gear selection and braking done before you get to the bend, so you’re approaching it at a speed you’re comfortable with, which’ll mean you can turn when you want to and have enough time to think about and react to the road condition, debris, size of your lane and type of bend.

Make sure you’re positioned correctly to get the best view through the corner – out to the left for a right-hand bend and a bit to the right of centre for a left-hander. Doing this will means you can see the true vanishing point of the corner, which’ll let you gauge whether it’s becoming tighter or opening up – that means you’ll know for sure when to apply the gas again.

Mistake #3: Not reading the road

Reading the road is a crucial part of riding, and is doubly important when riding in towns and cities, where there may be a lot of vehicles around you and lot happening. Failing to read the road can mean the difference between negotiating a busy main road with ease, or running in to the side of another vehicle when you get between it and a turn - which you want to avoid.

How to avoid it

Slow things down and look at what’s happening ahead of you. Most road users give good clues to what they’re about to do. Indicating is the most obvious, but a change in road positong can indicate that a car is about to make a turn.

When filtering past slow moving traffic, you might be able to see car wheels turning before a signal is given. Even being able to see what a driver is looking at – how they’re positioned in the car may tell you something about what they may do.

You can get a good idea of what kind of driver you're behind based on how they’re driving, which’ll tell you the best course of action to take. For example - drivers that repeatedly signal to manoeuvre and then cancel their signal could be lost and may do something erratic, like make a last minute turn or brake suddenly, which means hang back and wait for a clear and safe passing opportunity.

If you’re approaching a busy junction and the traffic is moving slowly, there’s probably a good reason, so assess what the surrounding vehicles are doing, how they’re positioned, where they could be going, look at the road layout to give you clues as to what might be happening and how best to negotiate it.

Mistake #4: Assuming you’ve been seen

If you go around assuming that everyone knows you’re there, you’re asking for trouble. Assuming that other road users have seen you and know where you are puts you at risk of getting knocked off. Other road users may be so engrossed by their phones, screaming kids or banging tunes that they’ve got no hope of knowing you’re near them, regardless of your fetching head-to-toe kit and loud exhaust.

How to avoid it

Don’t assume you’ve been seen and proceed with caution. Treat every road user like a blind idiot that’s likely to do something unpredictable and stupid at any moment. Do this and you’ll inevitably see situations unfold in front of you that you’ll be glad not to be near.  

Mistake #5: Being self righteous

We can be a bit self righteous at times, can’t we? Our sense of entitlement on the road comes from being vulnerable and the consequences we face when things go wrong for us. But that’s not going to save you from an accident, or from coming off like a dick when another road user makes a mistake.

How to avoid it

Accept that people make mistakes. If someone strays into your lane at a junction or on a big roundabout, it’s usually best to accept it and make sure you can move to a safer position. A sense of entitlement won't protect you fron a 1.5-tonne high-velocity metal cage. 

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