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Ride a Motorcycle Safely in London
James F · February 04, 2020
Ride a motorcycle safely in London
There is no doubt that riding a motorcycle in London is the quickest way to negotiate its busy congested streets. Whether you are commuting into Central London from the outskirts or buzzing around town as part of your job, two wheels are certainly the fastest most cost effective option. But given how busy London is, what steps can you take to ensure that you are riding safely?
Obviously if you are new to riding, the journey starts with motorcycle lessons. Although the requirements have changed over the years the process is not as difficult as some people would have you believe. Firstly if you are a car driver that passed your test before 1st February 2001, you are entitled to ride a 50cc moped with no L plates and with no need for any motorcycle training at all. If you want to ride anything bigger than a 50cc machine then regardless of age (you need to be at least 16 of course) you will need to pass a CBT training course. This one day training course will get you onto a machine up to 125cc which is one of the most popular sizes found zipping around the streets of London. Further lessons will be required if you want to ride bigger capacity machines, but regardless of size, a CBT training pass is still required.
So, you have your license and you’re ready to take on the mean city streets. What can you do to ensure that your journeys are as safe as possible? Firstly lets just quickly step back to the lessons. If you are going to be commuting into London from say, outside the M25 it might be wise to choose a training school within London itself. Completing a CBT in somewhere like Tottenham, Lewisham or Wandsworth will certainly prepare you for dealing with the traffic and don’t forget, the instructors will be riding these roads day in day out. The experience and knowledge they can pass on will be invaluable. It can be a bit of shock learning to ride in a relatively quiet town, then taking on the Monday morning commute into central London. However, wherever you do choose to learn, make sure you choose the best training school you can find. RideTo are committed to helping new riders find the best training school to suit their needs.
It goes without saying that a key element to riding safely in London is wearing appropriate gear. Choosing clothing and accessories that are both protective and visible will help immensely, and thankfully riders these days are spoilt for choice in terms of equipment. New rules mean that manufacturers must put their products through rigorous CE certified testing to be able to sell them as ‘motorcycle protective clothing’. This has been in place for crash helmets for many years, but now includes jackets, trousers, boots and gloves. These new rules put the onus on the manufacturer to ensure the products are up to standard, thus making life easier for the rider. Make sure you check that the item has a CE rating before buying.
The most important piece of kit is undoubtedly the helmet. It is a legal requirement in the UK to wear a helmet that has a ECE E22.05 standard (issued by the European Economic Commission). This will be clearly marked on the helmet and if it doesn’t have it, don’t buy it. It is also very important that the helmet fits properly, so we suggest visiting a reputable dealer/retailer to have the helmet professionally fitted. We all have different shaped heads and some brands will fit certain heads better than others. An authorised dealer will ensure the best fit. This not only makes the helmet safer, but also more comfortable, quieter and one less thing to worry about when riding. Whichever look you want to sport on your motorcycle can pretty much be catered for these days. Regardless of the style you want to cut, from the leather jacket and jeans to a full on textile suit, the world is your oyster.
But, safety is not only about the rider, particularly in London. Ensuring your bike is secure when parked up is almost of equal importance. Motorcycle crime has risen in London over recent years, and although it is almost impossible to make your machine 100% theft proof, there are ways of making it harder. It’s all about putting obstacles in the thieves' way which will make them more likely to move to another less well secured machine. At a minimum we would suggest an insurance company approved disc lock or a motorcycle lock that is fitted to your bike and the heaviest weight security chain you can manage. As well as these, if you have to park on the street during the day a bike cover is a really good idea. It might sound very simple, but if a motorcycle is hard to identify, it’s much more likely that it will be ignored.
So our three key pieces of advice to ensure your London riding experience is a safe one are;
- Get the best Motorcycle Training you can find
- Wear the most protective clothing you can afford
- Make sure you don’t neglect Motorcycle security