Getting on the bike again – Part three

Thinking of getting back on your bike this Spring after some time away?

If you are, there are some golden rules to follow if you are to do so in safety…

It may be as recently as autumn when you were last out on your bike – or it could be even longer than that. There are plenty of riders who love their bikes but give them up for family reasons, only to return to two wheels in their 40s and 50s.

Whichever it is, a few months or a few years, we want to get you thinking about what you need to do before you ride off on your first adventure. Here are some more hints and tips…


Watch your brakes

If you put away your bike for the winter, and the brakes were wet, there’s a chance the pads have ceased on the disc. Check they are free or ‘unfreeze them’ if they are stuck. Check there hasn’t been a leak of hydraulic fluid, too.

Once out on the road, perform a rolling brake check. If you’ve a quiet spot of public space you can enter without causing issues for other users, try checking out the brakes there.

To perform the check, at low speed just squeeze on your front brake first, to check it’s gripping okay, then do the same with the rear. Once you’ve done them individually, try them together. You want to make sure the brakes are working well before you take it out on the main roads.


Get your eye in…

Ever played a racquet sport for the first time in ages and wondered why you can’t hit the darned ball? You need to get your eye in… and it’s exactly the same with bike riding after a time away.

On your first ride it will take you some time to remember how to sit comfortably on the bike. Don’t be too tense; gripping the handle bars too tightly leads to muscle fatigue and pain in the wrists, arms and shoulders, and an uncomfortable rider is never a safe rider.

If you’re a bit older, it may take some time to get comfy, particularly around your thighs and hips. Sitting on a bike can feel a little awkward to start with, and you need to get used to it before you embark on longer rides at higher speeds.


Watch out for your safety zone

Another thing to get used to again is building that safety zone around you – or as some bikers call it, your ‘zone of relative safety’. It means making maximum use of observation at all times. Don’t let yourself be drawn into just watching the speedo and the tarmac directly in front of you - get your head up and scan the horizon for potential troubleshoots.

Check your mirrors regularly to make sure there’s nothing creeping up behind you, and remember those right shoulder checks, particularly well before you change road position or begin any turns.

It’s easy to forget how important these checks are, particularly if you’ve been driving in a car over the winter. Motorcycling demands a higher level of observation and awareness as we’re so vulnerable out on the road, so remember: scan the horizon, and get those mirror and shoulder checks in.

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