Over-confidence and Riding at the Limit

Some riders know their limits very well indeed and ride within them. A very few have the ability to handle their machine at the edges of its performance envelope. Unfortunately, most riders not only have a false sense of indestructibility, but also have over-inflated ideas about their level of machine control. You can get into serious trouble because you have overestimated your riding ability. Your confidence may take you into situations which you cannot handle.

Learning and developing new skills will clearly improve your limits and this will hold an advantage so long as you do not use your new skills to ride there by habit. It is obvious that if something does not go according to plan, if you are riding at extremes of speed, lean angle or braking then you will not have any reserves in hand to deal with the emergency. Recognise that this is a problem - assess your own riding critically and ride within your known limits.

Don't underestimate the danger of high risk behaviour - amongst experienced riders this is one of the most common causes of accidents. Safe riding is about Risk Management - everything you do on a bike has a risk attached to it. Some activities - riding flat out round a blind bend - are clearly high risk and very dangerous. The aim of defensive riding is to reduce the risk attached to a potentially dangerous activity by anticipating, being prepared for and taking steps to avoid the danger. Your aim should be to ride in complete safety and with no inconvenience to other road users.

Overconfidence can also get you into trouble through complacency. You may be riding along, well within the limits of your own skills and the machine, but with a sense that nothing can go wrong because you are riding so slowly (at least - what seems slowly to you). In this state, you are highly at risk because you have mentally switched off. You are no longer concentrating or actively looking for danger.

Always remember advanced techniques of machine control can only increase your safety and reduce the risk of an accident if they are supported by positive attitudes, concentration, critical self-awareness and above all, by self-control.