Motorbike safety

The facts

Figures from the Department for Transport demonstrate a worrying increase in the number of motorcyclists hurt on Britain's roads in recent years. Last year some regions saw an increase of over 30 per cent in the number of motorcyclists killed or seriously injured on the roads. As well as an increase in the number of motorbikes on the road, there is a growing trend for bikers to choose more powerful machines. A significant number of motorcyclists are thrill-seeking, riding as fast as they dare, often far exceeding the speed limit or risking lives with dangerous stunts. Police forces have recorded some motorcyclists riding at speeds of up to 150mph.

Prepare yourself

Green Flag Motoring Assistance advises bikers to ride safely, protect themselves and consider other road users. Remember, riding a motorbike is more physically demanding than driving a car and involves a high level of concentration. For this reason it is even more important to ensure you are fit and healthy, do not feel tired and have not been drinking any alcohol.

It is essential to ensure the correct clothing is worn when riding as, unlike driving a car, there is nothing else to protect you from injury in the event of an accident. A helmet is the best defense against head injury and is also a legal requirement. Green Flag recommends the following are worn at all times when biking:

  1. A helmet
  2. A long sleeved shirt or jacket, which fits closely around the wrists.
  3. Long pants to provide protection from the hottest parts of the bike
  4. Full fingered gloves to protect against abrasion and help maintain control of the motor bike
  5. A visor or goggles to ensure good visibility is maintained and to protect the eyes from dust, wind and debris
  6. Robust footwear for maximum grip, preferably covering the ankles, with no laces as these can be dangerous if they become tangled in the pedals.

Prepare your bike

Stability is the main difference between a car and a bike (only two wheels). The bike needs to be in top operating condition to ensure safety. Before setting off it's essential to check the following:

  • Oil and fluids - Check brake, coolant and clutch fluid levels and of course petrol. Also check the hoses, lines and reservoirs for leaks.
  • Controls - Check all levers, control cables and hoses to make sure they are in good working order and will not interfere when riding the bike. In addition, make sure that your throttle moves freely.
  • Lights and electrics - Make sure the battery terminals are clean, electrolyte fluid is sufficient and the battery is properly secured. Check that all the lights work properly and that there are no cracks in them. Check the routing of wires and beware of frayed or cracked wires.
  • Chassis - Check condition of the frame, forks and shocks. Check the chain or belt for tension, lubrication and wear. Ensure all the fasteners, bolts and cotter pins are in place and not broken, loose or missing.
  • Tyres - Check for proper inflation as under inflation will wear the sides of the tyres, whereas over inflation will wear the middle of the tyres. Also check that there are no foreign bodies embedded in the tread. Remember a flat tyre is a major problem on a bike as there is no spare.

If you believe that something is not operating properly, don't ride the bike.

Don't overload

Green Flag advises you to check your owners' manual to find out the bike's carrying capacity and do not exceed this. Distribute the weight of the load evenly - the bulk of the weight should be positioned low and as close to the centre of the motor bike as possible. Ensure that attached loads are securely fastened and not moving freely. It is crucial that the load does not interfere with your control of the bike.

Safe riding tips

Here are a few tips worth remembering:

  1. Be careful on bends and don't overtake if you can't see the road ahead
  2. Learn how to handle the power of the motor bike
  3. Learn to brake properly without going over the handlebars, as a motorbike's stopping power is nearly all in the front wheel. Equally don't use the back brakes alone as this can cause the bike to skid.
  4. Wear protective clothing
  5. Ensure the bike is safe to ride
  6. Don't do anything outside your own capabilities or take unnecessary risks
  7. Don't succumb to peer pressure when riding in groups
  8. Don't ride if you feel tired or unwell

Carrying passengers

Unless you are a very experienced biker Green Flag advises against carrying passengers. If you do carry a passenger, check that the bike has a suitable seat with footpegs. Refer back to the manual to check you don't exceed the maximum weight capacity of the bike. Finally, make sure the suspension is adjusted for the extra weight.

If you ride as a passenger on a motorbike remember the following:

  1. Wear appropriate clothing
  2. Keep feet on the footpegs
  3. Try to sit as still as possible
  4. Always lean with the angle of the motor cycle
  5. If you are nervous about riding, it's probably better not to!

Content from GreenFlag

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How to make councils fix bad road surfaces

The latest issue of RiDE Magazine has a legal special by Andrew Dalton that explains the process of making councils fix bad road surfaces. Download the letter of claim and a precedent.

Content taken from White Dalton Motorcycle Solicitors