Motorcycle Riding Etiquette
As a motorcyclist, you may like to ride solo, ride in a group, or even both. With so many events, gatherings and shows going on across the UK, you’re never far from a group of like-minded people, should you wish to socialise. The biker community is a friendly one, but if you’re new to motorcycling, we’ve put together a few hints and tips to help bikers look out for each other.
The motorcyclist nod or wave
Whether you’re new to riding or have been riding motorcycles for years, you will more than likely know that bikers like to give each other a nod or wave while passing each other on the opposite side of the road. This is just a simple friendly way of saying hello and stay safe, after all riding a motorcycle is slightly more dangerous than driving a car. The nod is certainly more common when it comes to motorcycle riding etiquette in the UK, which means you don’t have to take your hand off the handlebars.
Riding on your own or in a group, the motorcyclist culture is all about looking out for each other. If you see a hazard, make it known. Things you can warn other motorcyclists about are hazards like deep potholes, debris, oil or fuel on the road that could make the surface slippery. You can communicate any hazards through a communication device but, in a group of motorcyclists, it helps to agree on some hand signals.
Obviously everyone will have their own view on do’s and don’ts when it comes to group motorcycle riding etiquette, but when it comes to staying safe, it’s not a bad idea to keep formation and agree that overtaking should be done in the same order as the group. This way, someone behind doesn’t ‘spot an opportunity’ while the rider in front also makes a lunge to overtake and, well, you know the rest.
The odds are that, amongst the group, there will be different bikes and different experience/skill levels, it makes sense to let the quicker riders push on at the front of the pack, if they want to do that. If you’ve agreed a route, just meet the other riders when you stop at an agreed point. As a slower less experienced rider, you don’t want to feel like you must put yourself and others in danger just to keep up with the more advanced riders. You’re riding for enjoyment, at the end of the day.
Defensive riding is a strategy that helps a motorcyclist to be proactive and react properly to the actions of others on the road. This involves observing, anticipation, alertness, awareness, and planning ahead. You probably find yourself doing this naturally but essentially, it’s taking the advice you are given in your test and remembering to apply it to everyday situations. Defensive riding also helps to reduce tyre wear, brake wear and fuel.
Defensive Riding: Alertness
Always remain vigilant to the signs and traffic around you and don’t lose concentration. When planning a journey, factor in periodic breaks from riding and if you do feel tired find somewhere to pull over for a break. See our Top tips for Motorcycle Riding this Summer for handy tips and advice for staying safe in the sun.
Defensive Riding: Observation and Awareness
Be observant of the environment around you with the appropriate use of mirrors and physical checks. It is all about getting the best view of what is happening on the road so you are aware of what is going on, giving you time to plan appropriately or take evasive action, should it be required.
Defensive Riding: Anticipate and Plan
Never assume that road users are going to do the right thing. Consider whether the car at the junction saw you and prepare to act accordingly if the driver at the junction doesn’t see you. You can be prepared by slowing down and ready to stop. This is particularly relevant at T-junctions, personally I’m on the brakes until the driver makes eye contact with you, if they don’t be prepared to stop the bike quickly.
Surprisingly enough, when riding on public roads, you should always feel in control of the motorcycle. If visibility is limited, you need to feel confident that you can bring the motorcycle to a stop in a short distance, particularly if you don’t know the road. The tractor pulling out of the T-junction around that blind bend does not know you are coming and visa versa, so unless you can see well ahead, you should be riding conservatively. Once the road opens out, you can then begin to push on a little if it’s safe to do so.
Control is certainly part of group motorcycle riding etiquette; stopping distances can be limited, particularly if there is someone too close to you behind. Riding well within your abilities and planning ahead will not only save you, but also your fellow rider behind.
Bridge Motorcycles often have events and organised charity rides planned throughout the summer months so keep an eye on the Bridge Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok channels for events happening throughout the year. If you’re passing, the Bridge Café-53 is a great place to socialise and meet likeminded people in the area, feel free to stop by for a coffee.