All posts by alan

Scanning and Hazard Fixation

I’d like now to talk about a very important skill that the safe rider practises continually — Vigilant Scanning.

On the other side of the coin is a phenomenon that strangely seems to affect those of us on two wheels more than it does drivers of “regular” vehicles – Hazard Fixation.


Less experienced, or less vigilant riders may approach the scene below with the kind of concentration shown here:

Motorcycle. Scanning

They are largely concentrating on what appears to be the immediate hazard, and not really taking in the whole environment. This may be due to sheer lack of experience on the road (a few close-calls is sometimes a very effective, but harsh, teacher). Or it may be because, as a less experienced rider, too much of their concentration is being taken up with controlling the machine.

Whatever may be the cause, what we need to aim for is a constant scanning of the environment, taking in visual clues, and actively seeking the most information from our surroundings. Like this: Continue reading Scanning and Hazard Fixation


Positioning – Part Three

This is the third part of a series of posts on positioning. I would encourage you to read Positioning – Part One and Positioning – Part Two before coming back to this post.

I will wrap up this series of three posts on positioning with a couple of places you don’t want to occupy in the road. But! We will not have finished with the subject of positioning! Later in the blog, I will cover the large subject of positioning when it comes to cornering on a motorcycle. This is a large, but tremendously useful subject which deserves its own set of posts.

So, let’s wrap this series up with those places we don’t wish to be when on the road:

The Triangle of Death

Continue reading Positioning – Part Three


Positioning – Part Two

Greetings, fellow riders! This post is a continuation of the topics introduced in my last post: Positioning – Part One. I would encourage you to read that post, if you haven’t previously, before returning to continue.

You may remember that in my previous post on positioning, we had established a “default” position to maintain in the road unless external influences force us to consider deviating from it. I had outlined three things that may cause use to deviate from our default position:

  1. When doing so would give us a better view of the road, and traffic/hazards ahead.
  2. When doing so would give another road user a better view of us. I call this “presenting” to a potential hazard.
  3. When doing so would give us a greater “buffer zone” between a perceived hazard and us.

Let’s ease back into things with a couple of simple examples of the above: Continue reading Positioning – Part Two


Positioning – Part One

Today, I’d like to talk about a subject that truly transformed my riding.

I am almost ashamed to admit that, early in my motorcycle “career”, I rode daily for twenty years without having any concept of what positioning was.

It was only when I embarked on my advanced training that the subject was introduced to me, and it is no exaggeration to say that it completely transformed my riding.

After having received some excellent training from my instructors, and putting the principles into practice, I was amazed at just how much I could now see, and how much sooner I was seeing it. And, conversely, I was amazed at just how much information I had been missing through all those years of riding before. Information that was there for the taking if only I knew where to find it!

It also made riding a much less stressful experience because I was seeing things so much earlier than I previously had — and people were seeing me much sooner as well.

I hope you’ll forgive my enthusiasm about this subject, but it truly was an “eye-opening” experience for me. I hope it can do the same for you.

As the subject of positioning is a large one, and it is of so much importance, I have split the subject into multiple posts. This post introduces part one. Continue reading Positioning – Part One


Signalling and Signal Reinforcement

You may remember from my last post, that it was left on a bit of a cliffhanger. I ended by posing the following question: What do you do if you have just made a left turn into a street, with following traffic, but you’re going to immediately turn left again into, say, a garage/gas station forecourt? The signal from your left turn won’t do you any good now, because you haven’t had time to cancel it, and start a new one.

Signal Reinforcement


This brings us to the subject of this week’s post: Signal Reinforcement. Continue reading Signalling and Signal Reinforcement


Signalling on a Motorcycle

Motorcycle Arm Signal

It would seem that there would not be much to write about turn signals, would there? It turns out that there is so much to write that I’m going to split the subject into two posts! In this post, I’m going to talk about the use of your turn signals. More precisely, the intelligent use of your turn signals. In the following post, I’m going to cover the subjects of Signal Reinforcement and False Signals.

So, let’s get started!

The humble turn signal provides a lot more than just bling-bling and, when used correctly, it silently and efficiently announces our intended way through the urban jungle. When used incorrectly, it is an invitation for disaster just waiting for a gullible victim to fall for its glittering deception.

But first, let me step back a little and remind you about a crucial routine we should follow each and every time we perform any manoeuvre: Continue reading Signalling on a Motorcycle


Visibility on a Motorcycle. Z-motion, X-motion, and why cars pull out in front of us.

Visibility on a Motorcycle

Anybody who has ridden a motorcycle for any appreciable amount of time knows the all-too-familiar feeling that we seem to be invisible on the road.

When the umpteenth person pulls across our path or pushes us out of our lane, it’s tempting (and quite natural) to get very annoyed at the distracted and inattentive driver.

In this post, I hope to provide an insight into the psychology of visibility, and offer some tips which can help. Continue reading Visibility on a Motorcycle. Z-motion, X-motion, and why cars pull out in front of us.


Better Hill Starts

Motorcycle on HillThe idea for this “quick-tip” post came from a question asked by one of my readers: “I’m always nervous about moving off when I’m on a hill. What is the best way to do this?”

That is a very good question, and one that I often see people struggling with. Most of the problems people have is that they rely on the front brake, and then try to twist the throttle and let out the clutch at the same time as they are holding the bike from rolling backwards with the front brake. I’d like to offer a better method.

As it turns out, there is a simple way to ensure that you make a smooth launch without the panic, and without rolling backwards. I’d like to outline it here in bullet-point format.

  • Let’s start with you sitting astride the bike, engine running, side stand (kick stand) up, and holding the bike from rolling backwards with the front brake.
  • Still holding the bike with the front brake, put your right foot on the ground, and use your left foot to put it into gear.
  • Now, switch your feet around. Put your left foot on the ground, and put your right foot on the rear brake. Apply the rear brake, and let go of the front brake. You have now freed up your right-hand. No more gymnastics!
  • Now, it is a simple matter of releasing the clutch, and opening the throttle until you feel the pull against the back brake. Release the back brake, and you’re off. And with no panic, and no rolling backwards.

Simple really!


Braking on a Motorcycle – Part Two

Braking, Engine Braking and Throttle Sense

Welcome back! In the last post, I talked about the basics of braking on a motorcycle. This week, I’d like to continue, and go into detail about the three main types of braking, or slowing, that we do. So, let’s get straight into it!

In this section, I’d like to examine the processes we go through during the course of our regular riding when we need to adjust our speed downwards, or stop our machine. Continue reading Braking on a Motorcycle – Part Two


Braking on a Motorcycle – Part One

Continuing on our series covering the basics, I’d like today to talk about braking. There is quite a lot to cover here, so I have broken this subject into two parts. This week, we begin with part one. Before we get started though, I’d like to make an important note about general stability on a motorcycle:

A motorcycle is at its most stable when travelling at a constant speed in a straight line.

Why is that important to remember? Well, it’s because anything that causes us to deviate from that ideal condition is going to rob us of some stability. It is something we obviously can’t avoid, but it is worth keeping in mind so that as we are riding, we are continuously trying to keep the machine as near to that ideal as possible.

With that in mind, let’s move on to the brakes: Continue reading Braking on a Motorcycle – Part One