Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - andymc {P}
Some weeks ago I started taking motorbike lessons, something which I'm really enjoying and getting a good feel for. I thought it would take me a lot longer than it has to feel comfortable with the controls, the gears, the clutch etc but it's almost second nature now.

I recently started riding out on the roads and through the town with my instructor, something I felt a bit nervous about when he first proposed it but quickly felt ok about once I'd started. However, this experience has really made me think about how I behave in a car. I do a lot of miles in a year and never would have considered myself a careless driver - in fact, I try to remind myself to be aware of my driving style, my position in the road, hazard perception etc. I do my best to keep safety uppermost in my driving behaviour and be conscious of how I'm "managing" the car.

Since starting to ride, I have come to realise just how removed from the driving environment the car makes me. I'm much, much more conscious of the road surface, potholes, drain covers, road repairs, gravel and mud when on the bike. A bird flying out of a hedgerow at the wrong moment could mean having to touch up the paint on the nose of the car - it could mean a broken neck on the bike if you don't react to it properly. Perhaps the biggest contrast was when I realised this evening that I had happily driven the car from a bright part of the road into a tree-lined, much more shaded stretch. As my eyes adjusted, it took me a split second longer to notice the pedestrians in the road ahead of me on the other side. I was doing maybe 55 as I entered the shady part, and allowed the car to lose speed so I was under 45 when I passed them. Yet on the bike the previous evening, I had felt the need to slow to less than 30 in an almost identical situation, in order to avoid even the possibility of emergency braking.

I believe I'm just as keen to avoid an accident whichever vehicle I drive, but it seems that the sense of vulnerability on the bike makes me far more cautious than the car does. This makes me think that although I used to tell myself that I would always have something to learn about being an even safer driver, I may not have realised then just how much learning I still had to do.
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andymc
Vroom, vroom - mmm, doughnuts ...
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Vin {P}
Welcome to the improvements that come as a direct result of riding a motorbike.

The biggest thing I always noticed (and you mentioned it) was my magical interest in the quality of the road surface. What had just been black stuff suddenly changed into a mosaic of manhole covers, overbanding, changes of surface halfway round bends, etc, etc.

All you need now is the realisation that you're invisible whatever you're driving (I once saw a woman in a Panda narrowly miss death when the front was neatly sliced off after not seeing a tipper truck on a dead straight road, and realised it's not just bikes that are invisible).

Also, rememeber to enjoy it as well; it's a great crack.

V
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Garethj
Hope you enjoy it!

Some riders say that all drivers are out to kill them or similar nonsense, but the mindset to have is "always assume they haven't seen me". Never rely on headlights, reflective jackets etc to make yourself seen, put yourself in a position where you're safe if you haven't been seen.

It gets easier with practice by the way, even turning around in the road without putting your feet down (my personal impossible task until 1 day before my test, now it's a doddle)
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Waino
It's true, riding a motorbike does make you more aware of other road users and road conditions. Riding a motorbike, I soon learned (the hard way) of the dangers in not leaving enough room between myself and the vehicle in front on a wet road - it certainly helps with anticipation. If you ride a push-bike as well, then you will be even more awake to the stupor of the majority of drivers.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - tyro


but it seems that the sense of vulnerability
on the bike . . .


Ah yes, the sense of vulnerability. Roll on the day when all cars are legally obliged to have that sharp spike mounted on the steering wheel.

Of course, it were not legal, you wouldn't get me driving a car like that - for much the same reason as you wouldn't get me on a motorbike.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - tyro
Sorry.

I should have written "If such a spike were not compulsory, you wouldn't get me driving . . .".
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - andymc {P}
I am enjoying it, definitely! At one stage I was riding along an elevated road which gave me a view over the whole of south Co. Antrim down to Lough Neagh (not that I was able to drink it all in or anything, but I got a glimpse or two), with the feel of the air rushing past me and the sense that I was doing everything just right - and the freedom, man, the freedom. Amazing experience. I was smiling so much that the tightness of the helmet was starting to hurt, but it was just brilliant. Being in the car afterwards is extremely dull and deadening by comparison, and I don't think driving will ever be the same again.

I've managed about half of the time so far to turn the in the width of the road without putting a foot down, albeit a nice width of road - however the first few times I was wincing at the amount of revs I was had on while slipping the clutch. Funny that I'm much more conscious of that sort of thing as an experienced driver. However, one of the things I'm still working on is being aware of what gear I'm in when changing down to a stop. It might just be because I haven't yet bought proper boots and was wearing hiking boots for sturdiness - however I think they make me less sensitive to the feel of the gear change, as a few times I was in second when I thought I was in first and ended up stalling when trying to pull away again. D'oh!

Anyway, things will get even better after tomorrow - the main reason I've been taking all these lessons is because I'm picking up my motortrike tomorrow evening. Now that will feel even more fantastic! I don't actually need a bike licence to ride the trike, but I had no intention of just climbing on and going - I had always planned to be get a lot of advanced rider training lessons first. I'll see how I feel (and how healthy my wallet is) about actually going for the bike test - to me the skill training is more important than getting the piece of paper in as short a time as possible.
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andymc
Vroom, vroom - mmm, doughnuts ...
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Garethj
being aware of what gear I'm in when changing down to a stop.

Changing into first sounds and feels different than down into second, it'll come to you. You can also see the neutral light flick on and off as you go down into first.

Don't worry too much about revs when slipping the clutch, bikes can take it. My instructor had a few 125cc bikes and despite being thrashed, dropped and revved to oblivion while having the clutch slipped all morning never needed new clutches.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - martint123
Many people comment on how driving on the continent is a better experience than the UK with no lane hogger s etc. I put a lot of it down to the fact that many (most) drivers over there started off on scooters and mopeds so have a much better road sense and less of a feeling of invulnerability than us over here.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - mss1tw
I've managed about half of the time so far to
turn the in the width of the road without putting a
foot down, albeit a nice width of road - however the
first few times I was wincing at the amount of revs
I was had on while slipping the clutch.


Are you putting the back brake on - it pulls the bike taut and makes it mush easier to turn. I can turn my Africa Twin in pretty much any road, as long as I do this. If not, long travel soft suspension and 210kg's mean a lot more balance and throttle contrl is needed.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - cheddar
An Africa Twin has a fairly high CoG though generally the bigger the bike the lower the CoG of the bike/rider combined, although sports bikes though offer their own challenges if you can U-turn a 125 you can U-turn a 1200.

Interstingly the fast track bike test for older car license holders will soon be abolished meaning anyone of any age will have to go through the mill to get a full bike license, perhaps not a bad thing.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Sofa Spud
I've never ridden a motorbike but I do use a pedal bike and that highlights the stupidity of or ignorance of some other road users, including motorcyclists as well as drivers, pedestrians and even other cyclisrts.

In my experience, although they are more dependent on their survival instincts and need to keep their wits about them more than car drivers, motorcyclists more often than not make use of their sharpened awareness to get themselves out of the risky, dangerous situations they shouldn't have got themselves into in the first place.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - mss1tw
The stupid thing is I ride my pushbike like a complete pfd, whereas on the bike/in the car I'm careful and don't really speed.

I think it's due to the freedom from insurance worries, police worries, speed cameras, etc that pedal power gives.

I know that's the wrong attitude to have, but hey. Where would you rather I was irresponsible? Fragile human body going at 15mph or dressed in helmet and bike gear and at 30mph, or in a heavy metal box at 30mph.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - nortones2
Which machine are you getting AndyMc? Friend aged 70 has just bought a Yamaha 400 off-roady thing, and he's kept his Type R (in which he was clocked doing 90) so he's as anti-social as you younger ones. Its been a long time since I rode a machine (see clue in name) so I'd get a refresher to test my mettle before selling the car. Partner has a perfectly adequate Jazz so don't actually need two cars. Thats my excuse.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - SjB {P}
Are you putting the back brake on - it


Yup, this is how I was taught too.
It makes it much easier and smoother.
Set revs and clutch slip then control speed with back brake pedal pressure.
The advantage with this technique on any conventionally suspended bike is that it stops the turning radius changing with power application; the front forks don't dive or rise as they otherwise would and it's easier to be super smooth.

Within a short time of passing my test, using this technique I was U-turning my Hornet 600 on full lock with missus on the back and a pile of baggage.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - DP
Welcome to a whole new world! :-) I did my Direct Access 5 years ago and have never regretted it. Met lots of great people, had some really memorable trips and of course experienced via a 3 grand machine the kind of eye watering, gut wrenching acceleration that would require a six-figure investment in a car. It's all good.

I definitely view the road and other road users differently now. I'd been riding three days when I experienced my first "sorry mate, didn't see you" as a dozy bint with an MPV full of brats pulled out of a petrol station directly across my path. I missed her by millimetres (and more by luck than skill). I've had it happen twice since, and both times I anticipated it long before it happened, and was able to comfortably slow down or take avoiding action. Just assume everyone on the road is out to kill you and you won't go far wrong. In my experience the vast majority of road users are considerate and aware of bikes. You just have to be very aware of the idiot minority.

SjB I was also taught to U-turn using the back brake with constant revs and clutch slip. I found it hard to get my head around at first as that would constitute major clutch abuse in a car, but the wet clutch on most bikes seems to cope better. It was funny on the ZX-7R I had for a while though. Full lock would see the bike pretty much nose on to the opposite kerb on a typical back street. :-) You needed a car park or about six shunts to turn it!

So, now comes the fun bit. What bike to buy. Enjoy it!

Cheers
DP



Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - mss1tw
the wet clutch on most bikes seems to cope better


Of course! I'd wondered the same thing as you. I wonder what it is about it being a wet clutch that helps. The cooling effect?
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Cliff Pope
I'm sure everything you say is true, about bikers' safety conscientiousness.
But please can you explain why so many bikers think it is safe to ride about 10 feet behind a car, in its offside blindspot, waiting their chance to overtake? Doesn't the 2-second rule apply to a bike?
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Cliff Pope
"consciousness" of course. I knew it looked wrong.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Garethj
can you explain why so many bikers think it is safe to ride about 10 feet behind a car, in its offside blindspot, waiting their chance to overtake?

Probably because it's a good position to be in when you're about to overtake. The 2 second rule doesn't apply when preparing to overtake as the training manuals confirm.

Motorcyclists also have the 'escape route' of going between cars, but good observation means this shouldn't be needed.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - andymc {P}
@ nortones2
Heehee, this is where some of the bikers and petrolheads suddenly feel a little sick. My machine is a Harley chopper front end with a VW Beetle back end - so far, so conventional as far as trikes go. However, it's had a heart transplant and is now powered by a 1.5 DIESEL engine out of a Pug 106. 58 bhp of clattery hilarity! The reason for wanting a diesel engine was because I still plan to be a fossil-fuel-free zone and run it on biodiesel, like I have done with the cars for years. That engine is good for at least 90 mph, which is plenty fast (for me at least). In fact, I may take it to a track some time just to see how far I can take it, but that's not high on my list of priorities.

@ Garethj
I know what you mean about changing down into first feeling different - I think it was harder to sense that because of the clumsy boots I was wearing at the time. The first few lessons I happened to be wearing shoes and I think it was easier to feel the changes - and to get my foot underneath the lever for changing up!

@ mss1tw, SjB, DP
Interesting comments about using the back brake for turning - I don't remember my instructor suggesting that at the time, although that might be because he wanted me to practice clutch control.


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andymc
Vroom, vroom - mmm, doughnuts ...
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - nortones2
You kept that quiet, andyMc. . Bit of a shock I must say. Are you about to drop into Glaswegian argot?
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - andymc {P}
Are you about to drop into Glaswegian
argot?

Why?
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andymc
Vroom, vroom - mmm, doughnuts ...
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - mss1tw
Why?


Billy Connolly ;o)
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - andymc {P}
Ah. Should have twigged, as everyone I've mentioned it to has said "Oh, like Billy Connolly then!" Never mind the fact that I liked motortrikes when I was six, everyone will think I got the idea from him! Then there's the fact that I'll never be able to dye my beard purple, because guess who did it first ....
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andymc
Vroom, vroom - mmm, doughnuts ...
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - bedfordrl
I've always maintained that all drivers should start their experience on a motorbike.
You learn to study the road ahead i.e. cars at junctions ahead and stopping distances, the shear vulnerability of a motorbike rider means you HAVE to watch what others are doing.
And when you progress to a car driver you will be more aware of motorcyclists and more aware of your enviroment and what is going on around you.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Cliff Pope

The 2 second rule doesn't apply when preparing
to overtake as the training manuals confirm.
Motorcyclists also have the 'escape route' of going between cars, but
good observation means this shouldn't be needed.


So if I have to brake sharply because the car ahead does, your last words as you fly through my rear windscreen are "the 2 second rule doesn't apply" ?!

It's also a good escape route straight under the oncoming lorry, as I have witnessed.

Bikes have such good acceleration, why not just hang back a safe distance and then go for it when a space comes up? I'm not criticising so much as genuinely puzzled why people in such a vulnerable position deliberately put themselves at apparent risk so needlessly.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Garethj
So if I have to brake sharply because the car ahead does, your last words as you fly through my rear windscreen are "the 2 second rule doesn't apply" ?!

It's also a good escape route straight under the oncoming lorry, as I have witnessed.


When your road position means that you can see above cars and between the lanes too, you don't look just at the car in front but in the x hundred yards ahead. If there's a danger, drop back. Suprised that you haven't thought of this to be honest.

An escape route under a lorry isn't much of an escape route. Are you saying every overtaking motorcyclist does this?
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Cliff Pope
An escape route under a lorry isn't much of an escape
route. Are you saying every overtaking motorcyclist does this?


It was said with heavy irony, obviously lost.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Garethj
>> It was said with heavy irony, obviously lost.

As was my reply....
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Vin {P}
"But please can you explain why so many bikers think it is safe to ride about 10 feet behind a car, in its offside blindspot, waiting their chance to overtake? Doesn't the 2-second rule apply to a bike?"

I think someone in your blind spot isn't actually behind you, so if you do slam on the brakes, they will sail up the outside. This does, however, make an assumption that you'll brake in pretty much a straight line. Also, remember that a bike rider's head is higher than yours and can see well over the top of you (and sometimes over walls, etc). It's not perfect (and I speak as an ex-practitioner of the syle), but it's not as dangerous as it first appears. What I do find amazing is people on the motorway at 70+ who are ten feet from the *middle* of the rear bumper of the car in front. Now that IS asking for it. No way past if the driver in front drops anchor.

In my more youthful days, a girl pillion after her first ride said that it was interesting that I was either overtaking or preparing to overtake at all times.

V
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Pugugly {P}
All potential car drivers should be forced to ride a low powered motorcycle for 12 months before setting foot in a car. Evolution would then take it's course and cure bad driving at a stroke.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - andymc {P}
Must say I agree with the sentiments expressed by bedfordrl and Pugugly - at least twenty hours of bike training should be part of the basic training for the driving test.
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andymc
Vroom, vroom - mmm, doughnuts ...
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - stevied
All sounds fun! I would love a motorbike, but am too much of a scaredy-cat.

My girlfriend and I watched with interest as a group of suicidal motorcyclists overtook us and several others on the road linking the A61 to the Wetherby Road on Sunday. I am not going to launch into a criticism of them, merely observing that I would end up riding like that if I had one!
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - andymc {P}
To be honest that is one of the factors in my thinking too - as well as the fact that I like trikes anyway, they don't lend themselves to the sort of risk-taking that a sportsbike would and I'm pretty sure that I would give in to the temptation once too often. On a trike it's a more laid back experience.
Roll on this evening ...
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andymc
Vroom, vroom - mmm, doughnuts ...
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - martint123
Roll on Saturday afternoon - all the sad car drivers glued in front of the telly and the roads are empty for the bikes.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Cliff Pope
"The 2 second rule doesn't apply when preparing to overtake as the training manuals confirm."

Please show me where in the Highway Code it advises tailgating another vehicle while waiting to overtake it.


I take the point that the m/c might actually be over the line and therefore not strictly tailgating, but surely the situation can change frighteningly quickly, eg if a stubborn driver coming the other way refuses to make space for the rider, and he is forced back behind the car he wants to overtake?
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Garethj
Please show me where in the Highway Code it advises tailgating another vehicle while waiting to overtake it.


It's in the rider training books, you need to study it to pass your motorcycle theory and practical tests. It's an HMSO publication as the Highway Code is. This was also told to me when I did the Police-run 'Bikesafe' course.

When in a car do you hang back for 2 seconds, pull out, overtake and then pull in when you're 2 seconds ahead of the overtaken car? That's several hundred yards of being in the lane of oncoming traffic!
I take the point that the m/c might actually be over the line and therefore not strictly tailgating, but surely the
situation can change frighteningly quickly, eg if a stubborn driver coming the other way refuses to make space for the rider, and he is forced back behind the car he wants to overtake?


So the motorcyclist is forced back behind the other car? What's the problem with that?
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Cliff Pope
So the motorcyclist is forced back behind the other car?
What's the problem with that?


If the car brakes the motorcyclist has nowhere to escape to. He is too close.
All I am asking is, why does a vulnerable rider deliberately put himself in a dangerous position, rather than creating a safety zone around himself?

An example happened this very morning. I was following a lorry at about 50 mph on a single carriageway A road. No chance of overtaking, as traffic was coming the other way. The motorcyclist who was sitting on my quarter thought he saw his chance, and pulled out just as the lorry in front slowed . He thought the oncoming traffic would give him space in the middle of the road, but an oncoming lorry either couldn't or wouldn't move over. The motorcyclist pulled back in behind me with a squeal of rubber.
It seemed to me that out of impatience he had deliberately created a dangerous situation for himself. Why? And why is that kind of riding apparently sanctioned by the "manual"? Car drivers are not taught to straddle the centre of the road while waiting a chance to overtake.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Garethj
An example happened this very morning...

Sounds like a daft overtake to me, never overtake unless you can make it back into your lane in a distance you can see.

However as I said before, anyone who leaves a 2 second gap BEFORE pulling out into the other lane is never going to do much overtaking, car or bike.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - DP
It's interesting to note comments about suicidal bikers.

Until you ride one, you cannot comprehend the midrange acceleration a half decent 400cc+ motorcycle has on tap. This means that you can overtake safely in gaps that you wouldn't even think about going for in a car. Even my decade old 600cc Kawasaki, if its in the right gear, and leaving "safe" gaps, will move out, accelerate past, and move back in front of a car travelling at 60 mph in about 3 seconds. As far as I am concerned if an overtake won't require either the car I'm overtaking, or any oncoming one to change speed or direction, plus a few seconds error margin added in, it's legit and it's safe.

I daresay it does sometimes look suicidal to a non-biker, and there are some truly idiotic bikers out there, but the difference in gap required for a bike to overtake safely and even a quick car to overtake safely is considerable.

Cheers
DP

Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - P3t3r
It's isn't just for motorcyclists. It is taught in advanced driving (cars). However, you should minimise the time spent driving close to the other vehicle, and have good enough visibility to see what the other driver may do. You don't continuously drive an inch from everybody's bumpers, like most motorcyclists.
Safety conscious? Riding vs driving - Pugugly {P}
The best thing I did was to go on the local Bikesafe course after buying my latest bike. Been riding for 25 years, but I learnt a hell of a lot in those two days, it sharpend up my driving as well.
 

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