This section is aimed at people looking to take either CBT or their full motorcycle licence. If you're having trouble getting the hang of something, we hope these tips will help. Alternatively if you want more information about Motorcycle Safety, try our safety and protection guide
Performing a 'U' turn
Slow speed control is key to a good 'U' turn. You will need to keep the engine pulling throughout the turn and control the speed using the back brake. It's amazing how slow you can go and keep you're balance. Here are the basic steps.
- Positioning You need to make as much use of the road as possible, so try to get as close to the curb as you can, but leave enough space for your foot (12" seems about right).
- Observation It has to be clear and safe, before you begin. Have a good look in front and a good look behind to check there are no oncoming vehicles. Also keep an eye on any pedestrians in case they cross.
- Moving off Give the bike a bit more revs than normal, to ensure it gives you constant power, and bring to the biting point. Move off slowly riding/slipping the clutch and dragging the back brake (Do Not touch the front brake). Make sure you have got your balance before beginning the turn. Perform a lifesaver to check the road as you begin the turn. Ease the handle bars round slowly and evenly (not straight to full lock), while controlling the speed with your back brake. Lean slightly away from the turn to compensate for the bike wanting to fall in. As you go round you should keep your head in the direction you want to go (don't look at the ground or kerb) as it helps your balance.
- Finish - Stop when you reach the other side in the same position as you started. Don't forget to check in front and behind, before you pull away again.
If you start to fall let the clutch/rear brake out a bit to increase your speed. If you can't turn tight enough, use your back brake to slow the bike down. Remember if you're going up or down hill, you will need to compensate (more power up, more brake down). This is also the case If the road has a camber.
Performing an emergency stop
The Emergency stop tests your reactions and ability to stop the bike at speed as quickly and safely as possible. It is generally taught as a 5 point system.
- Shut off the accelerator.
- Apply the front brake.
- Apply the rear brake.
- Increase the pressure on the front brake.
- Apply the clutch to avoid stalling (on a manual).
It sounds like a lot to remember, but is actually easy once you've done it a few times. There are also a couple of things that you should not do during the emergency stop. It's a braking exercise, try to keep the bike in straight line, no mirrors, no gear changes, don't skid. Aim to stop with you left foot coming down and covering the rear brake still.
If it's dry, you should apply most of the braking pressure to the front brake (approx. 80%) and aim to stop as quickly as possible. However, if it's wet you must apply the brake pressure more evenly (50% front, 50% rear) and be prepared to take at least twice as long to stop. It's very easy to lose the front wheel in wet conditions.
Left and right turns
You may have come across the acronym OSMPSL or Observation, Signal, Manoeuvre, Position, Speed and Look, which describes the approach to turning left or right. It's explained in a bit more detail below:
- Observation Check your mirrors before you do anything. Making a turn will change your road position, speed and ultimately your direction, so it must be safe to perform the exercise.
- Signal Indicate to other road users that you intend to turn.
- Manoeuvre & Position Move and position your bike towards the turn, if turning left move to the left quarter of the lane, if turning right, the right.
- Speed Start slowing down (Remember user your front brake followed by back) and changing down ready to take the corner. It is important to get the approach right, so you have plenty of time to look around and react to any oncoming danger.
- Look Before it's too late to abort the turn perform a lifesaver to make sure nobody is squeezing up your outside (right turn) inside (left turn). Just before you get to the end of curb (approx. 10') is about the right time to check.
You should also perform rear observations once completing the turn and don't forget to cancel your signal!
Turnings can often have less space than you first anticipated, which may mean you have to go round slower than expected. Make sure you get into the right gear early, so that the bike will still pull you round if you need to slow down. This is particularly important on a heavy bike or when carrying a passenger.
When you are not riding your bike
Walking with your bike
Most people don't have too much trouble pushing a light-weight motorcycle, moped or scooter, as the bike is relatively light. However, as you move up to a larger, heavier bike you may find it difficult to keep control when walking. You will be asked to walk your bike (normally across the road) on your test. So here are a few tips that may help:
- It's easier to pull the bike than to push it, so if you position your body close to the handle bars and next to the tank, you'll find that you have greater manoeuvrability as the bulk of the bike will be slightly behind you.
- Hold the bars with both hands (as if in a riding position) if you're gentle you will be able to use the front brake to slow or stop the bike (be careful not to snatch the front wheel).
- Lean the bike towards you, don't try to hold it upright. If it's upright it can fall either way (and you'll never stop it, if it falls away from you).
- Keep your head up and look where you are going and don't forget to keep a good look out for other road users.
With a heavier bike, get into the habit of putting the side stand down before you get off the bike. It's very easy to drop it if you don't. When you've completed the manoeuvre put the side stand down before you climb on.
Putting your bike on its centre stand
The bigger the bike, the more you'll need to rely on technique rather than force. Centre stands are designed to act like a lever. You push down with you foot and up comes your bike. Here are the basic steps:
- Stand on the left of your bike with your left hand on your handle bars and your right on the lifting point (sometimes a grab rail or bar under the pillion seat).
- Lower the stand with your right foot and press down a little so that the bike begins to stand upright. In this position as long as you keep your weight on the stand the bike can't fall over.
- Now put most of you weight on the stand and lift the bike backwards with your right hand. If you're doing it right, your foot will do all the work.
When taking your bike off the stand, remember to keep your foot on the stand until your ready to balance the bike.