Author: James Toseland Posted: 31 Jan 2013
He’s won two World Superbike championships and dusted fairings with the best. But two-times WSB Champion and Bennetts ambassador James Toseland also rides on the road. Here’s JT’s top tips in his own words to make you a better and safer rider.
“Riding on the road is completely different to racing on track – not only do you not have anything coming in the other direction, but the track is completely smooth and a lot of the 'unknowns' that you have the road don't affect you. Having ridden on track and also on the road I have translated a few of the rules I go by on the track to help you with your road riding:
Before you even go out on the road there are a few things to consider, make sure you have checked your bike thoroughly. While I was racing, I was lucky enough to have a whole team of people whose job it was to look after my bike and ensure it was safe before I went out on track. On the road you only have yourself to rely on.
It's easy when riding around the road to not concentrate and be distracted by the scenery, however it is important to remember you are on the road and that full concentration is required at all times. You never know when that car in front of you might stop, or that tractor in the field might decide to come out.
It's easy to watch guys on the track and think 'Oh I want to get my knee down and lean the bike over into corners'. You shouldn’t be looking to gain maximum lean angle out on the road, as you should always allow an element of safety to your riding, which means you should always have lean angle to spare in the event that you need it. Remember that the road isn't for getting your knee down – that's what track days are for!
A lot of road riders tend to prefer one brake. However, to get the most from the ‘stopability’ of your bike its best to use both brakes to ensure a safe and secure stop, it is important to use both. Have a practice and get used to using them both at slow speeds. Then when you really need them you will know just what they can do…
My best advice would be to do a track day – get out and really ride your bike. The stark reality will be that for many people their bikes’ capabilities are much greater than theirs so get used to just what your bike can do. Once you've done that, then you will feel much safer on the roads when you’re riding within the limits of both you and your two-wheeled machine.
It's easy to think that the roads will always be clear but in reality they aren't. Road conditions and traffic situations will change every time you go out. Even if you have done a specific corner 100 times – what happens if this time a car has broken down just around the corner? Ask yourself whether you would be able to either stop or avoid the situation – if not, you're probably going too fast.
There's no greater feeling in life than getting out on a bike and enjoying the open roads – especially when the weather is nice! So most importantly, enjoy riding your bike and make the most of the freedom is allows you!