Riding Skills 101

Improve your motorcycling skills
with Survival Skills Rider Training

Start your journey into better biking here!

Survival Skills|FREE better biking tips for all motorcycle riders

Learning biking Survival Skills isn't expensive...
...because these tips are FREE for all bikers

Getting it wrong is easy, learning from a mistake seems a lot harder

However good we are, we all make mistakes. Provided we survive them, then do we learn from them? It's a good question and insurance industry statistics suggest that most riders don't. Riders who have had an accident in the previous three years are three times more likely than average to have another accident in the following year - insurance companies do not load the premiums of riders who crash for no reason! And here's something else to think about. We don't have to learn from our own experience, we can look at where other riders crash, and historically we still have the same accident types as motorcyclists have always had. Here are the Big Three. Collisions at junctions. Crashes on corners. Overtaking accidents. Look at statistics from the 1950s and 2010s and you'll find nothing has changed. What does that tell you? It should suggest we don't learn well from experience - either our own, or someone else's.

Have you had a 'moment' recently?

Have a think. Ask yourself some questions.

Did you see it coming, and if you did were you able to react in time and take avoiding action? If you couldn't take evasive action, why not?

If you didn't see it coming, what were you looking at? Did you fail to spot the clues to what was about to happen or did you fail to anticipate the likely sequence of events and consequences of what you were seeing?

We should know by now that the most common motorcycle crash is a collision between a bike and a car. But have a think on this. If the driver failed to spot the bike, the car was almost always where the rider could see it. Riders usually report that "the driver didn't see me" and not that "I didn't see the car". In fact, they often say something along the lines of "the driver was looking right at me". So the rider saw the vehicle they were about to collide with, no problem.

So what was going on in the rider's head at that moment? Do they simply glance at the car, then leave it to the driver to sort it all out? That certainly seems to be the case in most car : bike collisions.

Here's another example. A typical overtaking and filtering crash occurs when the driver turns right across the bike's path. The rider's cop-out is usually that "the driver should have checked his mirror properly" or "the driver didn't signal before turning". But think about it. If a car COULD turn right, why is the rider overtaking? Did the rider fail to spot the junction or driveway? Or did the rider simply assume that the driver wouldn't turn?

If we haven't anticipated a dangerous situation, then it's our mistake as much as anyone else's. And many bike crashes are down to the rider alone. Most cornering crashes and many overtakes that go wrong result from really poor decisions by the rider and the rider alone. Even when legally it's the fault of another road user that we found ourselves in a difficult or dangerous situation, we should be looking for ways not to get into that situation in the first place. There's no benefit to blaming the other road user from the stretcher.

If we don't ride in a state of mind where we are looking for things to go wrong, then we WILL be caught out by unexpected - and very much routine - crashes. If we habitually say "it was the other guy's fault" or "there was nothing I could do", then we are fooling ourselves and will learn nothing. We need to assess our riding critically. Yet many riders find it almost impossible to admit to making a mistake. "The corner's surface was rubbish", or "the driver coming the other way was speeding".

As I mentioned right at the beginning, we have the same crashes as we always have always had. Why haven't we learned?

Kevin Williams
Survival Skills Rider Training

...because it's a jungle out there


If you have enjoyed these Survival Skills articles, you can help me stay awake and keep writing. Just click the button below to buy me a coffee!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

* follow Survival Skills on Facebook and find new tips every week.
* discover Survival Skills books 



Subscribe to our Newsletter

Book a training course

What is Survival Skills all about?

How are Survival Skills Courses put together and taught?
The Making of a Good Instructor - musings on my Driver Education course

Would a National Standard for advanced training be appropriate?
Writing a riding tip - what detail is necessary?
What to do if you've had an accident
Accident Statistics - dispelling some myths

Improver or advanced, pragmatism or perfection?
Piling on the miles
Compartmentalisation & Practice -  the key to learning new skills
Countersteering - Question and Answer

Braking Rules and Tips
Over-confidence and Riding at the Limit
Practice makes Perfect
The Danger of Misunderstanding
Learning from your Mistakes
A Moment of Inattention
Staying Warm
Staying Awake
Don't just ride for yourself, ride for others
Filtering - what's legal and how to do it
Cornering Problems 1 - Lean or Brake?
Springing into Summer - polishing off the winter rust
Group Riding - Rules and Tips
Awareness of Risk and Risk Management
Cornering Problems 4 - Stability and the "Point and Squirt" technique
Cornering Problems 3 - Staying out of trouble! Pro-active Braking or Acceleration Sense?
Cornering Problems 2 - Staying out of trouble
What is Risk?
Avoiding Diesel
The Vanishing Point - is it enough?
Posture - the key to smoother riding
When the Two Second Rule is not enough
Riding in the Dark
Roundabouts - straight lines, stability and safety
Slow Speed Control
Aquaplaning - what it is and how to deal with it
Rear Observation - when to & when not to!
Staying upright on icy roads
KISS - 'Keep it simple, Stupid' or Low Effort Biking
Overtaking Safety - avoiding vehicles turning right
Proactive versus Reactive Riding
Living with  Lifesavers
Which Foot? The Hendon Shuffle - Question and Answer
Carrying a passenger - Question and Answer
Riding in the rain
Riding in strong winds
Sorry Mate, I didn't see you - an analysis of SMIDSY accidents
Ever gone into a corner too hot and had it tighten up on you?
The Point & Squirt approach to corners
A time to live...
Target Fixation - Question and Answer
The Lurker, the Drifter and the Trimmer
The five most important things I learned as a courier
Overtaking - Questions and Answers
Precision riding - or keeping it simple?
Wide lines, tight lines, right lines - the law of Diminishing Returns
Surface Attraction
Euphoria - when your riding is just too good to be true
Straight line -vs- trail braking
Sit back, close your eyes, relax... and hope for the best
Before you overtake, do you...?
Do you need to blip the throttle on a downshift?
Holiday Riding Tips 1 - Dealing with hairpins (a new occasional series)
Holiday Riding Tips 2 - The (drive on the) Right Stuff
Why SMIDSYs happen
Avoiding dehydration - riding in hot weather
Riding errors - and avoiding them
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness - riding in fog
Where does Point and Squirt come from?
Overtaking - lifesavers and following distances
Offsiding - what is it, and why you should think before you do it!
Anger Management - dealing with "red mist" and "road rage"
That indefinable gloss
Overtaking on left-handers - experts only or best avoided?
Apex or Exit - what's important when cornering?

Developing 'Spidy Sense'

Armchair Riding - how to improve summer skills in winter

Working towards a BTEC in post-test instruction part 1

Working towards a BTEC in post-test instruction part 2

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This archive of articles is provided free to read and download, but is not for commercial use. Contact me for re-use rights.

IMPORTANT: The information on the Survival Skills website is for your general information and personal use and should be taken as a guide only. Survival Skills Rider Training provides no warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness, clarity, fitness or suitability of the information and materials found or offered on this website for any particular purpose and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements and you acknowledge use of any information and materials is entirely at your own risk, and that neither Kevin Williams nor Survival Skills can accept responsibility for your interpretation or use of this information or materials. The content of these pages is subject to change without notice. 

 Copyright © 1999 - 2019 Kevin Williams and Survival Skills Rider Training