A1. Do you go out for leisurely rides in preference to "advanced-paced" rides?

If you do because you choose to, then fine; if it’s because you are not yet certain about whether your skill level is up to a more advanced pace, then consider training.

A2. Do you wish you could (when you choose to) safely ride as quickly as other riders?

Nobody wants you to become some sort of speed-mad lunatic, but if you’ve seen advanced riders that you admire, because you’ve seen them ride safely and smoothly at speed, how about training so you can emulate them?

A3. Do you feel physically or mentally exhausted after a couple of hours’ ride?

Assuming you have a reasonable level of fitness, if you do, it could be because you’re making hard work of your riding. Riding should be fun! Having a systematic method of riding allows you to develop the skills so you can cope with any hazard that comes along. You’ll be thinking a lot, but you’ll end the ride with a grin – fresh and exhilarated. Take some training and learn how!

A4. Do you find car drivers seem to be out to get motorcyclists?

If you do, chances are you’ve heard too many “Volvo-driver” stories. Riding with a negative mindset is not good for your safety. Learning a systematic method of riding so you can cope, and keeping a safety bubble around you when riding, is the way to go. Learn more!

A5. Has a dealer or other person pointed out simple mechanical faults with your bike that you were unaware of?

You don’t need to be a mechanic, but regular daily and weekly checks of the essential items, e.g. tyres, chain, lights, brakes, fluids etc. on your bike will keep you safe and have your bike look after you. Learn to use the POWDER acronym for this.

A6. Do you wear gloves and boots when riding short distances?

Most accidents happen within three miles from a rider’s home. Never compromise on your safety equipment. Gloves and boots are a minimum, in addition to the legally required helmet.


B1. Does riding with the bike leaned over take you outside your comfort zone?

It’s done that for all of us while developing our skills. You can learn how to use the best methods for steering, braking and acceleration as well as understanding how these actions work on your bike’s performance and handling. Take some advanced training and learn more!

B2. Do you wish you could (when you choose to) safely filter through traffic like other riders?

Smooth, delicate use of the controls, setting the bike up to suit you and practising your balance on the bike are the starting point. Learning how to scan ahead and maintain peripheral vision are advanced skills that will keep you safe. Use what you see to make a plan and plan for gaps in the traffic as they appear.

B3. Do you use both feet to the ground to maintain your balance at slow speed?

If you do, you are actually raising the bike’s centre of gravity – all the weight is on the seat; not the foot pegs and seat. A high centre of gravity will actually make the bike less stable. Paddling along looks amateurish and takes up more room in traffic. Practise your balance and bike control.

B4. Do you feel the bike wants to topple over, or have difficulty controlling it, in slow moving traffic?

Assuming you have a bike that is suited to your style and physical size, learning better control and balance go a long way to improving your confidence. There is an advantage to being taller and having longer legs, but many smaller riders have learned how to be very confident and competent on big bikes.

B5. Are you unsure which foot to put down when stopping?

At a more advanced level, there is no correct foot. Some traditions teach one or the other. The best thing is to stick with your preferred foot, but be ready to change when circumstances dictate, e.g. on steep cambers or slippery surfaces or where you would be leaning towards moving traffic.

B6. Do you find it difficult to get your bike out of a parking place?

Bikes are heavy to push backwards, although you can learn techniques to make it easier. Nonetheless, think first before you park, so you can generally drive out of a parking place forward.


C1. Do you find yourself boxed in by other vehicles in your way?

If you do, it’s a sign that your observation and planning skills need further development. Advanced riders ride for the gaps in traffic and smoothly filter through like a hot knife through butter. It takes 100% concentration, good control and balance and a willingness to show restraint for safety, but it can be learned.

C2. Do you get cut up by other vehicles changing lanes or turning across you?

Although we can’t control what other vehicles are going to do, you can develop a chess-like expertise at observing by scanning and then not just looking at what is happening, but making allowances for what might happen. What are the tell-tale signs that let you know something different is about to happen?

C3. Do you have to brake hard when traffic in front of you suddenly slows down?

If you do, unless it’s an absolute instant emergency happening in front of you, it’s probably because you haven’t processed the information that was available to you through scanning ahead. If you plan ahead, keep all round observation and ease off maintaining your safety bubble, often a gap will have opened up for you and you will not have to brake hard.

C4. Do you use your direction indicators automatically without thinking about it?

Indicators are for use in giving information to other road users who might benefit from it. If there is no one in sight or likely to benefit, why would you be signalling? Doing it by habit means you are not thinking about your ride sufficiently and probably haven’t carried out effective observation before your planned manoeuvre.

C5. Do you use your horn at other drivers who have annoyed you?

The horn is for use in letting other road users be aware of your presence. It has no other legally recognised use. If you feel a need to blow other people up for things they’ve done to upset you, then you are wasting energy, getting stressed and putting yourself in danger of road rage. Learn more on this topic in THE ROAD™ website.

C6. Do you stop to look for traffic at roundabouts (when you could have gained all the information you needed on approach)?

This is a sign of a rider in need of advanced training. Look ahead in advance of the location you are riding in and scan back towards where you are going to be. At roundabouts, a good motto is, “Expect to go, but be prepared to stop.” They are not STOP lines or even GIVE WAY junctions; they are designed to improve traffic flow, so don’t stop when you don’t have to. Remember if traffic in the roundabout is driving across the path of the traffic coming from your right, then their “gate is shut” and you can go if otherwise safe to do so.


D1. Do you tend to stay in the middle of the lane on your side of the road?

If you do, you are not taking advantage of one of the greatest assets in riding a motorcycle – the ability to move, after considering safety and stability, to gain a better view and therefore be aware of hazards and opportunities earlier.

D2. Do you actively position to seek a better view around large vehicles in front?

There’s no need to feel shut in by a large vehicle. Many riders make the mistake of following too closely and losing their chance of a view along either side of the vehicle. Stay back for a view and you will see situations develop earlier and give yourself time to react. You will also see any developing overtaking chances earlier. Take further training to learn how to do this.

D3. Do you not think about overtaking because you lack experience or technique to execute an overtake safely?

Confused between the “safe following distance” and the “overtaking position”? Where do you position for the best view for a safe overtake? When do you prepare for an overtake, yet refrain from committing yourself to it? At what point do you accelerate smoothly and progressively? Where should you be aiming your bike when doing the overtake? What’s so wrong with “swooping” around the vehicle you are overtaking? Does the expression, “Piece of elastic, wedge of cheese” when used to describe the best method for overtaking mean anything to you? Overtaking is probably the most hazardous, yet rewarding aspects of advanced riding. It can produce spills if done badly, but thrills if done well. You can learn more with advanced training!

D4.  Do you commence an overtake, but then have to abort it?

There is nothing wrong with moving into the overtaking position, and being prepared to do an overtake at the first available opportunity, where there is a reasonable chance of one presenting itself (if there isn’t, you should return to the 2-second following position). However, you should never find yourself having to abort an overtake that you are already committed to. This means your observation and planning have probably let you down. Something has happened that may have indicated the overtake was never really on to begin with. An advanced rider is one who is also able to show restraint where others would have blindly overtaken. If you are riding with others, never tailgate through on other’s decisions to overtake. Make your own decisions based on what you can see. Circumstances change quickly!

D5. Are you unsure where to position for best view through a bend?

Most riders, through basic reading in magazines or watching more experienced riders, soon pick up on the idea of positioning towards the left for righthand bends and towards the right for lefthand bends. This is intended to give a better view through the bend, thus making it safer to take the bend more quickly. However, do you know when to sacrifice position for safety or stability? What about linking a series of bends together? How early should you prepare for a bend or move to position for the next bend? Advanced training will answer these questions for you.

D6. Do you have close encounters with vehicles pulling out of junctions or entrances?

If government publicity films and Volvo stories are to be believed, this is an area of major concern. However, you do have some control over the situation. You can position for greatest visibility to create a greater “safety bubble” for yourself. Early observation and anticipation will have you put the bike in a safer position where car drivers can see you and you have more time to react if necessary.


E1. Do you make the posted speed limit a target to ride at?

The speed limit is the legal maximum for the road; it is not a target to aim at. There maybe circumstances where it is more appropriate to ride at less than the limit, e.g. near a school, in a congested area, near parked cars etc. Restraint is also a sign of an advanced rider.

E2. Do you ride 5-15 mph above the posted 30 or 40 mph speed limit?

Why? Statistics show that most accidents happen in urban areas inside 30 and 40 mph limits. The difference in a few mph can make a big difference in the consequences of the accident. Give yourself time to see and time to react. You are riding a motorcycle; there are advantages from filtering, overtaking and better acceleration that easily make up for the times when you show restraint.

E3. Do you ride 15-30 mph above the posted 30 or 40 mph speed limit?

See above at (2). Doing so is just plain irresponsible, although like all of us you may be frustrated by ridiculously applied, politically motivated speed limits at times. Even when the roads are quiet and you are commuting to work, these are times when other drivers will be half asleep and not expecting a motorcycle to appear ridden fast.

E4. Do you run out of road when cornering?

If you do, or if you often find yourself still braking as you enter a bend, then you are entering the bend to fast. The old maxim of “slow in, fast out” is still valid. Position for the bend then scrub off your speed smoothly, using 3-stage breaking (if you don’t know, take some advanced training and find out!) on the approach, select the appropriate gear and steer through the bend with positive acceleration as you come out.

E5. Do you brake so hard that one or both of your wheels skid?

Brakes on modern motorcycles are very good. Don’t wait for an emergency situation to find out what yours can do. Practise in a safe environment, reducing speed from increasingly higher speeds, until you can confidently use your brakes. Use 3-stage braking: take up the slack momentarily and notice if there Is any response from the tyres on the road surface; then increase the pressure firmly to do the majority of the braking; then relax pressure on the brake lever BEFORE coming to a stop or the desired speed, so that it all happens smoothly and you and the bike are not thrown forward your momentum while bike speed is reduced. “Stoppies” are for stunt shows, not the road!

E6. Are you unsure what is the best combination of front and rear brake?

The normal rule is 75% front and 25% rear, with the front applied slightly ahead of the rear brake, except in the wet where it is 50% front and back. This is based on the dynamics of the bike under braking. The front suspension compresses taking most of the weight of the bike, thus improving traction between the front tyre and the road. Under braking, the rear tends to rise leaving less traction and the rear wheel prone to skidding. However, the more advanced you become in your riding, there maybe other techniques you wish to consider in setting the bike up for corners or in improving handling at slow speed. Read up on it and take advanced training to learn how.


F1. Do you use the gears to reduce speed rather than the brakes?

And we are not talking about selecting a lower gear for greater control via the throttle in certain traffic conditions or while cornering! We are talking about the habit a lot of riders get into or learned wrongly of using engine braking to slow down the bike. Remember: Gears to go, brakes to slow! Engine braking only works through the rear wheel; under braking the bike’s weight transfers towards to the front, so traction at the rear is less and in a worse case could lead to a skid. Not to mention the strain on mechanical parts like the chain, sprockets or gear box. It’s cheaper to buy brake pads than have a gearbox rebuilt! Unfortunately, there are also some “advanced” riders who have the idea that using brakes shows poor acceleration sense (sometimes true) but masking that by using the gears so as not to show a brake light is no substitute for developing better observation and easing off the throttle earlier.

F2. Do you notice your bike lacking power in a high gear and then have to change to a lower gear?

If you find your bike is struggling in too high a gear, you probably haven’t selected a lower gear early enough for the riding situation you are in. Inexperienced riders with poor clutch/gear/throttle coordination seem reluctant to make gear changes often enough. Practice makes perfect and learning to use the throttle to smooth out quick gear changes will add to your riding experience, allowing you to take advantage of overtaking opportunities and changing traffic situations by quickly taking the right gear and accelerating out of trouble.

F3. Are you unsure what is the best combination of gear and engine rpm for corners?

As a general rule, aim to be using 50% of available engine rpms (i.e. if your redline is at 9,000 rpm – use 4,500 rpm) as you corner and then gradually and smoothly increase as you exit the bend, changing up if necessary once in a straight line again. Too high a gear and the throttle will not be responsive; too low and coming off the throttle can upset the geometry of the bike as engine braking takes effect. Yes, what with view, position, speed, steering and gears to think about there is a lot going on all at once with cornering. Need help perfecting it? Take some advanced training!

F4. Are you unsure what is the best combination of gear and engine rpm for riding in urban areas?

In traffic situations where you are facing a constant stream of merging hazards, as happens in riding in congested urban areas, you will probably want to ride in one gear lower than you would on the same road at the same speed if it was open and clear. This is to give you greater control over the bike through delicate use of the throttle, rather than constantly giving it throttle then having to brake and generally upsetting the stability of the bike. As my old instructor used to say, it’s all about squeezing gently not grabbing handfuls!

F5. Do you feel the bike lurching forward when changing down a gear?

If you do, then it’s because you haven’t yet mastered the technique of smoothing out gear changes using the throttle.  Basic riding teaches that you brake the bike down to the speed of the next gear. However, in advanced riding, you will want to be able to use acceleration earlier than that, so being able to smoothly change into the next lower gear is an essential skill. After pulling in the clutch, you need to increase the engine speed so that the rpms match the rpms for the road speed you were previously doing in the higher gear. Some people noisily “blip” the throttle. That isn’t necessary; you can do it just by applying sufficient rpms for the job and holding them. Listen to the sound of the engine and notice the feel of the bike’s response for best feedback on getting this right. It’s difficult to teach this through words or even by demonstrating. However, once you understand the principle find an open straight stretch of road and go along at 30-40 mph changing up and down between gears until you can do it with no effect on the bike’s handling at all.

F6. Do you often stall the bike, i.e. engine stops when letting out the clutch?

Is you bike running well and in good mechanical shape? Assuming here that you have no electrical or fuelling problems. If you have an older-style bike with a choke, warm the engine first and dump the choke before riding. Have you set the clutch span to best suit you, if it is adjustable? If that’s all OK, don’t be afraid to give yourself sufficient rpms before letting out the clutch, more if the bike is pointing uphill or your steering is turned at an angle as you pull away. It’s not going to bite you! You control the amount of forward motion by holding the clutch around the “biting point”. Practise getting very familiar with your biting point. An advanced technique is to hold front or rear brake slightly as well as managing throttle and clutch to ensure a smooth pull-away and optimum stability. However, this is not recommended until you are very confident with basic clutch and throttle control.


G1. Has your bike’s acceleration scared you?

Up to a point, that’s good. It shows respect for the power you have available. However, if you are constantly being scared by the bike’s power, you probably have too “big” a bike for your riding level and this will inhibit your riding development. Better to learn by using a smaller or medium-sized bike to its full potential, rather than being held back by problems managing a too-powerful one. Race-type bikes on the road are pretty unmanageable anyway. You just don’t need 150+ hp. 80-100 hp is plenty for all road advanced riding. Even track racers are now using bikes with less engine capacity and the result is unexpectedly quicker racers because the bikes are more controllable through corners. It’s not about absolute power; it’s about controllable, applicable power.

G2. Do you use more than half the engine's available rpms, i.e. take the tacho needle towards the red line?

If you don’t then may be you’ve got too much bike for your style of riding or you are not confident in making full use of what is available. Smooth use of the throttle through the whole range of available rpms will give you maximum acceleration for overtaking or other situations where you need to move quickly to a safer position on the road.

G3. Do you get the front wheel up without meaning to?

This is the result of too harsh acceleration, letting out the clutch too quickly and not understanding just how much power your bike has available. “Wheelies” are for stunt shows, not on the road. They are potentially dangerous and can do unseen mechanical damage to the bike.

G4. Do you find your back wheel losing grip while accelerating in some circumstances?

Harsh acceleration is one of the main causes of loss of rear wheel traction. Motorcyclists need to pay particular attention to changes in road surface conditions so they know how much traction is likely to be available in different circumstance under acceleration. Beware, there is less grip in the wet (although on modern tyres, more than most people think!) on ice, spilt diesel or oil, plastic painted lines, tar patching, sand or gravel etc.

G5. Do you look at your speedometer while overtaking in a National Speed Limit?

It’s your licence, so you take the risks if you exceed the NSL. However, once you are committed to an overtake that you have planned well according to The System, the most important thing is safely completing it. To do this, you need a reasonable degree of acceleration and you need 100% concentration on your view so that you have all the information you may need for a change in position or speed, if necessary. This is one of those occasions when looking down at your speedometer is not a priority!

G6. Do you feel as if the bike is throwing you forward when you close the throttle?

Different types of engines have differing amounts of engine braking. Riding in a lower gear will give more engine braking, i.e. the rear wheel starts to drive the engine rather than the other way round because the throttle has been closed so quickly. This can give you a lurch forward. Worst case, it could lock up the rear wheel and upset the handling of the bike. Through maximum information gain, anticipation and planning you can avoid having to snap shut the throttle. Find the right gear/rpm combinations for your style of riding and develop your acceleration sense. Taking advanced rider training can help with this.