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Top Tips For Riding A Motorcycle In London
Alex K · August 31, 2018
Commuting or getting about in London on a motorcycle is definitely preferable to public transport but riding a motorcycle in London can be a bit daunting at times. The roads are busy and uneven so it can all be a bit much: with that in mind here are our top tips for riding a motorcycle in London.
Staying visible on a motorcycle in London is the best way to make sure you have a better time of things riding a motorcycle in London. Hi-vis may not be the coolest thing but it helps immeasurably in the almost scrum of London traffic and doing your best to make sure others see you is step one of avoiding anything bumping, nudging or cutting you off.
Shoulder Checks and Road Position
This very much leads on from point 1. Keeping your head on a swivel and knowing what’s on either side of you is key in London. With so many road users trying to get where they’re going in such a constant rush only relying on other people to be aware of you isn’t enough. Road positioning is also key - making sure you’re in people’s mirrors when you’re behind or, when it’s safe, filtering to make sure you’re at the front of traffic helps keep you safe on the road.
Knowing your bus lanes
Some you can, some you can’t and others have time restrictions. Always keep an eye out for the signage along bus lanes as the cameras will nab you if you go 5 yards up a bus lane you’re not supposed to be in.
Uber Passengers and Other Pedestrians
People just walk out into the street in London. From the pavement or getting out of cabs/ubers on the side of the road. The worst thing about it too is that it’s one of the only situations on a motorcycle where you’re not the most vulnerable one in the situation. Staying alert for people looking to cross or the the ubiquitous Prius with its hazards on dropping off revellers will ultimately make London life on a motorcycle easier.
This should have been covered during your CBT but it’s always worth keeping at the front of your mind as, with other road users in the situation, getting trapped in a box junction in stop/start traffic is something to be aware of. Ride defensively, hold your road position and don’t let cars bully you into pulling away or going for a light when you don’t have time or space.
Just Because You Can Ride It Doesn’t Mean you want to/should
The CBT allows riders to ride anything up to 125cc on the road for a period of 2 years provided they don’t go on a motorway. The thing is there are absolutely some A-roads in London that you don’t really want ride on a 50cc or sometimes even a 125cc. Examples off the top of my head/experience are A13 which may as well be a motorway and the North Circular. If you can take another route I’d recommend it as it will be a lot less stressful.
Slippery paint in the rain
London roads are covered in all kinds of different markings for cycle lanes, box junctions (again), overly complex junctions, mini-roundabouts and the list could continue ad infinitum. The reason to be aware of these is that the paint in the quite likely London rain gets extremely slippery and something to take gingerly in worsening conditions.
Some areas in London have paid motorcycle parking and some have free parking - it’s worth checking what the restrictions are at your destination before setting off. It’s also worth considering where your bike is if you’re parking it overnight. Pick a well lit area and it’s always worth investing in a heavy duty bike lock (even if it’s a pain to carry it around).
Crawling your clutch
While lots of you will be on automatic scooters in London but if you’re on a bigger bike then London traffic can be hard work on your clutch crawling up to a junction. The best advice to give is that if it’s safe then filter or overtake to the front of the traffic. This has the added bonus of making you as visible as possible to other road users.
Other Road Users
We’ve saved the best for last here. Buses, cyclists, taxis, cars and pedestrians are the bane of any London motorcyclist’s life. Buses and taxis are are the worst offenders so avoid being on the inside of them. Taxis will U-turn and turn across lanes onto side roads which is also a common behaviour of lost Uber drivers.
This may all be very doom and gloom but there are always caveats to the wonders of motorcycle riding and taking all these into account will definitely allow you to enjoy the good bits without the bad.