Riding Defensively into the New Motorcycling Season
As the new motorcycling season gets under way, many motorcyclists can’t wait to get back on their bikes. “Nobody forgets how to ride a motorcycle, but after the winter break, even experienced riders need a brief ‘warm-up’ period,” says Stephan Schlosser, one of DEKRA’s specialist experts. One good way of getting back into the motorcycling season is to attend a professional motorcycle safety training course at, say, a driver safety training center. But given the restrictions still in place due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this is not currently an option for many people. Regardless of this, however, motorcyclists should take the opportunity to reactivate their skills in a parking lot or some other quiet area away from the hustle and bustle of road traffic.
A whole range of practice exercises that form part of the standard driving school program can prove extremely useful here – riding in circles, making figure eights, braking and avoiding obstacles, carrying out emergency braking maneuvers, and riding in loops and zigzags with brief stops – and without dismounting. These are all excellent ways of quickly reacquainting yourself with the handling and balancing characteristics of your motorcycle. On your first – not too long – ride, it’s best to travel solo rather than with a passenger so that you can focus all your attention on re-familiarizing yourself with two wheels rather than four.
In spring, you need to be especially alert. Always keep an eye on the condition of the road to avoid taking a spill due to dirt, loose chippings, or frost heave. And be especially careful of car drivers, who, like in every spring, are themselves getting used to the increased number of motorcyclists on the roads again. Many car drivers often underestimate acceleration, speed, or distances and sometimes completely fail to register the slim silhouette of a motorcycle – or register it far too late.
To ensure an enjoyable, accident-free start to the motorcycling season, Schlosser recommends that you adopt an especially cautious and defensive style when out and about on the roads. “Keep a close eye on cars and trucks, watch out for potential left-turners, keep out of the blind spots on cars and trucks, and don’t overestimate your capabilities.”