New rider skills: Twelve differences between cars and bikes

 

1. Cars don’t lean over and are easier to steer than a bike

Going round a corner in a car is fun, we aren’t denying that. But going round a corner on a bike is a completely different kind of rush! The forces that where forcing you against the car door are now pushing you down, into the motorcycle’s seat.

 

 

2. Cars don’t fall over if you just let go of them

 

Bikes take a little more consideration when you park them. Uneven ground, stones, soft mud or drain covers could all cause you a problem when parking your new pride and joy. Also take into account the size of the bike and your own stature. A touring bike with a 870mm seat height that weighs 360kg might not be the best choice if you are 5’3’.

 

 

3.But bikes are much more satisfying in corners when you get it right

Getting a corner ‘right’, on road or track, on a bike is an immensely satisfying feeling. The further you lean, the more pronounced the G-forces become and in some cases, the better the bike will perform. If you’re lucky enough to spend some time on track you also have the added bonus of maybe getting your knee down. With the advent of the adventure bike, a scuffed knee slider on your leathers is no longer the biker’s rite-of-passage it once was – that doesn’t stop it bringing a grin to your face when you manage it though. And every other time after that!

 

 

4. Cornering in a car involves trying to look through an enormous lump of metal called the A-Pillar, riders can see for miles.

Depending on the type of helmet you use, a motorcyclist can have nearly 180° of uninterrupted forward vision. Add a flick of the head to each side into the equation and that could easily become 220-240°. With your mirrors near your hands and the dashboard under your nose, everything you need is there. Doing away with some of the trappings and distractions of a car not only helps make you more aware of what’s going on but also helps to make you feel like you are part of the bike.

 

 

5. Cars can only use the same five-foot wide lane as everyone else. They never have to think about ‘the best line’ through a turn because they only have one option. Riders have a choice of lines through every bend.

 

Being on a bike makes every road feel five times wider. Instead of being stuck at the back of someone else’s queue you have your own ‘bike lane’ down the centre of the road.  Plus, in corners you can either go wide for extra visibility or stay tight to avoid a hazard. Pot-holes, diesel, horse-poo and car drivers will at some point find their way in front of you and it’s your job to avoid them. Keep your eyes as far down the road as possible to spot danger. Then; don’t stare at it, because target fixation means you will hit it. Spot the danger and respond, don’t react. Plan an escape and follow it through.

Click here to learn more about avoiding hazards.

 


 

6. Your arrival time in a car depends on the truck at the front of the queue, six vehicles ahead. Motorcycles use the space either side of the white line and arrive without delays.

Not many car drivers know this but filtering – if done safely – is 100% legal. Done properly it can take massive chunks out of your commute. Filtering also means you aren’t sat in traffic with your engine ticking over and that’s helping the air quality, the environment and your lungs. Filtering motorcycles also help ease congestion. A study in Belgium found that if 10 percent of car drivers swapped to a bike, total time losses for all vehicles decreased by 40 percent. If 25 percent of drivers switched, congestion was eliminated entirely. Have a read of the Rider Skills articles on the site to get an idea of what you need to do.

 

 

7. Cars have airbags, seat belts, side impact bars and crumple zones. Motorcycles don’t. Riders wear their crash protection, so buy the best kit you can afford and ride sensibly.

Good riding gear isn’t cheap but it will last longer, keep you drier and offer more protection than budget kit. Buy the best you can afford. Read the reviews of the gear we have already tested and wear the correct kit, properly! It’s no good buying an £800 helmet if it’s four sizes bigger than you need. If you are unsure, get to a bike show or dealership and try some stuff on. The staff will help you find the kit that works for you.

 

 

 

8. Car drivers hit top gear quickly and stay there as long as they can. Motorcyclists get maximum use out of every cog.

Some bikes beg to ridden hard but that doesn’t always mean breaking speed limits! Bike engines are tuned and designed to be revved harder than car engines so use the revs. It may feel weird at first to use all of the power and see the rev-counter hurtling into the red but with some bikes, that’s where they're happiest.

 

 

9. Car drivers choose the most direct route and still arrive looking miserable. Motorcyclists take the back roads and arrive smiling and babbling excitedly about the B1183.

Some of the best roads I have ridden have been found because I took a wrong turn or I simply thought: “I wonder what’s down there?”. Because of the extra time you have on a bike you might be more inclined to head off the dual carriageway and explore a little further than you would in a car. A bike is also a much more engaging vehicle than a car, dual carriageways and motorways will soon begin to bore you. So, head off and see where 'that road' leads you.

 

 

10. Car drivers spend Sunday morning cleaning their car. Bike riders get up at 6am and lap three counties just for a laugh.

In the summer months bikers spend their weekends riding not cleaning! They don’t need to clean their bike as they have already treated it with the best rust protectant available and carried out the general maintenance tasks during the week, in the garage, with a cuppa and the radio on.

 

 

11. Car drivers think motorcyclists get wet when it rains but they get wetter walking from the office to the car park than we do riding to work in the proper kit.

There is actually some pleasure to be had from riding a bike in the worst weather, yet being completely dry and warm beneath your riding gear. You know all the other road users are thinking: ‘He must be mad’. But that’s part of the appeal. I’d still rather ride a bike through rubbish weather than drive a car.

 

 

 

12. Car drivers become arrogant, aggressive idiots behind the wheel. Motorcyclists become freedom loving rebels, in control of their future, happily taking the long way home just for the hell of it.

Arriving at your destination on a bike isn’t the end of the journey, you’ve got to get yourself back yet! But don’t go the same way, open Google Maps and have a look and see if there is another way to get you there. Some riding gear has a see-through section on the left forearm so you can slip notes in there. Mark off some towns that take you a different route back and go and explore.

In all honest; any bike is an adventure bike. Riding a 125cc on L-plates from London to Manchester is just as much an adventure as doing it on some super-duper 1200cc adventure bike. Probably even more so. And it doesn’t matter what you ride or how you ride it, just ride.

 

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