If you’re considering getting back into biking after a long break you’ll quickly realise returning riders have a lot to think about if they want to stay safe.
Bikesure’s Ride On campaign aims to ease people safely back onto the road after a break. Here we provide 7 motorcycle safety tips and questions returning riders will need to ask themselves.
1. Are you fit and legal to ride?
Riding a motorcycle requires fitness, flexibility and sharp reflexes. Before venturing back onto the road consider your current state of health. If in doubt, it could be an idea to have a medical to make sure you are fit to ride. Maybe have your eyesight and hearing checked at the same time, if it’s been a while.
Just as parts of your bike suffer with wear and tear, so do parts of your body! You probably didn’t think about this when you were biking years ago, but the fitter you are the better you will ride.
It is also important to check you are still fully licenced to ride, the DVLA has created this handy licence flow-chart for returning riders, and that you have the correct motorcycle insurance and an MOT for the bike.
2. Which is the best bike for returning riders?
People tend to return to biking once their children have flown the nest and they are generally aged 40-50, though, of course, some are older.
Because of their age they tend to have more financial stability and may well be in a position to buy the muscle bike they dreamt of riding when they were newly qualified. That could be a mistake.
When you first get back on the road consider going for something a little more modest. You will be so surprised how well modern bikes handle and how powerful they are, compared to the machines you rode when you were in your teens and twenties.
A bike with too much horsepower can ruin a returning rider’s fun and could even be bad for confidence. Think about getting a more manageable bike on which to get road smart once more. You can always upgrade once you have gained confidence and sharpened your road sense.
Many returning riders choose a 125cc machine as they are lightweight, maneuverable, appropriate for a range of weather conditions and economical, while still having plenty of poke. Learn more in our blog about the best 125cc motorbikes.
If, on the other hand, you’re going to take the wraps off your old motorcycle which has been mothballed in the garage, make sure it has a professional-standard service before taking it out on the road. This blog offers some advice if you are taking your motorcycle out of long-term storage.
3. Take a refresher course
The best way to build your confidence and improve your competence quickly is to take a back to biking refresher course.
Aimed at people with prior riding experience, good courses will cover changes in the law, the culture of riding, traffic conditions, and advances in equipment and technology.
A half-day refresher will cost £150-£250 and a full day £200-£400. If you’re a returning rider, a single day should be sufficient to reequip you with the skills you need to stay safe, though over time and with regular practice those skills will develop further. If you need a refresher course check out the helpful Bikesure database of motorcycle riding schools.
4. Start easy and stay safe
Riding a motorcycle safely takes skill and is exhilarating but it has inherent risks. The margins for error, accident and injury, can be slim.
Returning riders should start slow and build their confidence gradually. Plan your first ride back as a relatively short trip, preferably in light traffic. Don’t push yourself or the bike and save the day-long road trip until your confidence and competence has grown.
5. Don’t skimp on safety gear, and always wear it
Returning riders may be lucky enough to still fit into their old biking gear, but only wear it on non-biking days. Safety gear, cold weather gear and waterproofs have come on leaps and bounds in recent years and investing in the best kit you can afford could just be a life-saver, as well as making you more comfortable on the bike.
Today’s riding boots and good quality leathers give armoured protection while the right bad weather gear will keep you warm and dry and help prevent fatigue and concentration loss.
6. Tech has moved on, learn to use it
Returning riders buying new bikes will quickly discover today’s machines are far more sophisticated than the ones ridden when they were younger.
They are more powerful, more efficient, more economical and there have been huge advances in safety equipment, not least in today’s grippy tyres, skid-reducing antilock braking systems and multiple riding modes.
Read all you can about your bike’s equipment, practice using it, and join an online forum or join a motorcycle club so you can talk about any issues you have with experts who have probably had the same experiences or difficulties as you.
7. Returning riders: expect the unexpected
If you have spent the last 20 years sitting in a car you have been cocooned from the biker’s world, and it might not be until you get back out on two wheels that you appreciate how things have changed for bikers.
On your bike you will be vulnerable to the random maneuvers, lane changes and sudden deviations of erratic car, van and lorry drivers. Try to anticipate the dangers, read the road ahead and expect the unexpected.
Motorcycle safety advice from the experts
Check out this blog containing motorcycle safety tips from experts including former world superbike champion Carl Fogarty, biking blogger UsernameKate and members of the Bikesure insurance team.
Complete cover for returning riders
If you are a returning rider you’ll be pleased to know that the motorcycle insurance experts at Bikesure may well be able to take your previous riding experience into account when working out your quote.
We treat all our customers as individuals and because we have access to more than 40 different motorbike and moped insurance schemes, some specially designed for returning riders, you can be sure there will be one suited to you.
Call 0808 503 4424 for a no obligation quote or request a free call back at a time that suits you.Ride On