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Five Common Mistakes Beginner Riders Make (& How to Avoid Them)

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

Embarking on your motorcycle journey, whether you've just earned your CBT certificate and purchased a 125cc bike or completed your full licence and are ready for your dream motorcycle, is an exciting adventure. However, as a new rider, you're bound to encounter a few hiccups along the way. Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process, but as motorcyclists, we face higher risks, so it's crucial to minimize errors from the start.

They say, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail," and this adage holds true in the motorcycle world. The best approach, in my opinion, is to stay vigilant and anticipate potential pitfalls. Today, I'll guide you through five common mistakes that new riders often make and offer tips on how to steer clear of them.

Overestimating Your Skill Level

After completing your training and acquiring your first motorcycle, it's tempting to hit the road with boundless enthusiasm. Passing your test is a significant achievement, but it's essential to acknowledge that you're still a novice with limited road experience. Instead of rushing into extensive riding, take it slow and allow yourself time to learn how to handle various road situations effectively.

I used to live in a busy city centre, so when I started riding, I woke up early to practice on less congested roads. This boosted my confidence, and after a couple of weeks, I felt comfortable riding during peak traffic hours and amidst pedestrians. Don't forget to continuously hone your basic skills, even after passing your test. I purchased a set of cones to practice U-turns, figure eights, slaloms, and hazard avoidance, and I recommend finding a safe, empty area like a car park for these drills. For further skill development, I suggest checking out the MotoJitsu YouTube channel for invaluable guidance.

Buying A Bike That’s Too Powerful

This mistake often pairs with overestimating your skill level. While it may be tempting to go for a high-performance, large-displacement bike right after passing your test, it's akin to getting a Lamborghini immediately after earning your driver's licence - impractical and risky.

Smaller bikes aren't lame; they're practical for new riders. Even smaller motorcycles are quicker and more agile than most cars on the road. Starting with a smaller bike is beneficial; they are easier to handle, cost-effective, and insurance-friendly. As you gain experience, you can upgrade to a larger motorcycle. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility!

Not Wearing The Right Gear

Safety should be paramount for any rider. While only wearing an ECE approved helmet is legally required in the UK, adopting the ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time) mindset is crucial. Riding with inadequate gear, such as shorts and flip-flops, is not only risky but ill-advised.

Investing in protective riding gear significantly reduces the risk of severe injury in case of an accident. There are reasonably priced, high-quality gear options available. I've created several blog posts to help you find the perfect riding gear, including tips for women's motorcycle gear, a helmet buying guide, and a breakdown of the true costs of motorcycle gear.

Forgetting About Bike Maintenance

Maintaining your motorcycle is an often-overlooked aspect of riding. Neglecting maintenance can lead to costly repairs within your first few months of ownership. Routine tasks like changing oil, checking the battery, monitoring tyre pressure, and cleaning the chain can be done at home with some basic knowledge.

However, it's essential to follow the manufacturer's recommended service intervals and have your bike professionally serviced to prevent potential issues. Engaging in DIY maintenance also allows you to develop mechanical skills. Numerous resources, including videos, blogs, and books, can help you understand your motorcycle's components and how to keep them in good condition. Consider enrolling in a bike maintenance course for a hands-on learning experience.

Thinking That Everyone Can See You

New riders often assume that other road users can easily spot them, which is not always the case. Motorcyclists must maintain constant vigilance and awareness of their surroundings. It's crucial to anticipate potential hazards, such as distracted drivers, merging cyclists, or pedestrians crossing unexpectedly.

During your training, you might have learned about your blind spots. If not, you can recreate this exercise with a friend's help. Always avoid other vehicles' blind spots and make eye contact with drivers at junctions and roundabouts whenever possible. Wearing high-visibility gear, choosing a brightly colored helmet, and having a louder exhaust can also enhance your visibility on the road.

In conclusion, these are five common mistakes that new riders frequently make, along with tips on avoiding them. Remember to ride safely, stay alert, and continuously strive to improve your riding skills. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to share them in the comments.

Stay safe and enjoy your ride!

Jennie x

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