When you’ve been motorcycling for a few years, it’s easy to become complacent on the road. As well as taking the spark of excitement out of the glorious experience of biking, falling into easy habits can compromise your general awareness of the road and increase your risk of being caught off-guard. So it’s worthwhile to try new ways to challenge yourself every once in a while. Here are a few ways in which expert cyclists might push themselves a little bit further.
Develop your low-speed control
For a lot of drivers, biking is all about keeping a cool head at high speeds, but working on your low-speed control is just as important a skill, and one that you’ll find yourself using practically every time you ride. Practice keeping your feet elevated at traffic lights and roundabouts, with lots of rear break, plenty of revs and your hand on the clutch.
Take a break from braking
If you’re on a long country road at a comfortable mid-speed, see how long you can go without slowing down or speeding up. If you’re travelling at around 70mph on a major A-road, you shouldn’t need to brake to handle the corners, provided you keep a sharp eye on the vanishing point. This should only be attempted by experienced drivers on familiar routes, but it’ll teach you about reading the road, forward planning and corner entry speeds.
Take a new route
Taking the same tried and tested routes day-in day-out is one of the easiest ways to lose your road reading skills. Keep your skills nice and sharp by finding unfamiliar terrain to explore as often as you can. It’s more fun, too.
Shift your body weight
Many riders adopt a very rigid posture on their bikes – back straight, arms stiff, facing the centre. When you’re going at a comfortable speed in safe, familiar territory, experiment with shifting your body weight front to rear and side to side. Go slowly, and take notice of how different positions affect the way you ride. Think of the way a jockey handles a horse – let your body ‘talk’ to the bike and understand how your body and the machine work together.
Tighten up your lane changes
When changing lanes on dual carriageway or motorway, see if you can do it without hitting a cats eye or lane marker. This will force a sharper turn in both directions, which will improve your reactions to rapid direction changes and countersteering. Be very careful though, and don’t try it if the road is wet or your vision is in any way compromised.