Posted: 22 Oct 2011
Make sure the motorcycle – and you – are ready for the road. Don’t ride if you feel tired, distracted or you are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
If you haven't been riding for a while, promise yourself you’ll take it easy until you build more confidence.
At all times, regularly check oil and fluid levels, tyres, levers, cables, hoses, forks, shocks and chain lubrication, tension and wear.
In the summer, make sure coolant is topped up and the radiator is clear of insects or road debris.
In winter, check and replace your battery if necessary, make sure that your lights are working, and since road conditions are usually worse, check that your tyres have at least the correct legal depth of tread and are inflated to the correct pressures.
The minimum legal tyre tread depth for motorcycles over 49cc is 1mm, but this is a bare minimum and many motorcyclists replace their tyres at 2mm or even 3mm.
If not using your bike over winter, leave the battery on a specially designed charger such as Optimate or Acumate, empty the petrol tank, over-inflate the tyres by 4psi, clean and dry all over and spray electrics and metal with corrosion protector, and turn the wheels every fortnight.
Read more Winter Riding Tips here
Always ride within your ability. If you’re riding in a group with faster riders, don’t feel under pressure to keep up.
Always ride so that you can stop within the distance you can see in front of you.
Take an advanced course with the Institute of Advanced Motorists (www.iam.org.uk).
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (www.rospa.com) offers a similar scheme through its Advanced Drivers and Riders wing, RoAdar, with more than 50 local groups that will provide free training. Joining a group costs from £20. Visit www.roadar.org for details.
RoSPA also has a downloadable booklet on its site on avoiding the five most common motorcycle accident causes: bends on country roads, collisions at junctions, collisions while overtaking, loss of control and road surface conditions.
It’s illegal to ride without a motorbike helmet. When choosing one, go to a good dealer for advice, and since everyone has a different head shape, buy one that fits you comfortably but snugly, since it will get looser with time. Clean it using warm water and gentle approved products, and if you drop it or crash, you should replace it.
Jackets and trousers should be waterproof and armoured at shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. You can also buy a back protector to help avoid spinal injury. For all-year round riding, buy gear with zip-out thermal linings.
Gloves should be warm, waterproof and protective, but not so bulky that you can’t feel the controls. For all-year riding, buy lighter gloves for summer and wear silk inner gloves underneath them for winter.
Motorbike boots should cover the ankle, and be waterproof and protective, but flexible and comfortable enough for walking as well as riding