Mastering the Art of Advanced Filtering on Motorcycle
There’s an undeniable thrill that comes with riding a motorcycle. However, the thrill can quickly diminish when you find yourself stuck amidst a sea of cars during rush hour and traffic jams.
But as a motorcyclist, you have an advantage. You can use your size and agility to manoeuvre through congestion. Filtering on a motorcycle is straight forward but for new riders it can be daunting.
Advanced filtering on a motorcycle isn’t about moving through congestion at speed, it’s the skill of riding through the traffic safely and without elevated stress. It is a skill that grows with confidence and experience, that’s why there is a difference between a new rider and one who is seasoned and skilled.
Advanced motorcycle training is a must when it comes to developing the right skills and attitude. The advanced training will help develop slow control skills, vision and planning. Not to mention the thought process that allows you to abort when it doesn’t look right.
This strategic manoeuvre allows you to navigate through stationary or slow-moving traffic, essentially ‘filtering’ your way through the gaps that are there and the ones you can foresee with good vision and a well structured plan.
However, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Filtering requires precision, well-informed judgement and a strong understanding of traffic rules and potential risks.
Understanding the Basics
Motorcycle filtering essentially involves moving through the gaps in stationary or slow-moving traffic. It is an intimidating experience for new riders but once you have gained enough experience and confidence, it becomes an easier proposition.
That said, it can still be a little bit daunting as the gaps narrow and increase as you ride through. One of the biggest challenges is reading what you think the traffic is going to do. They do not always do as you expect, so riding with the utmost caution is advised.
It’s a skill often deployed in heavy traffic conditions to reach a destination quicker and alleviate stopping frequently like the other traffic has to.
It’s not about speed
However, it’s not about darting recklessly between cars. Rather, it’s a careful and calculated decision-making process that only comes with education, experience and practise.
At the heart of safe and successful motorcycle filtering is speed, or the lack of it. The throttle works both ways, an advanced rider will look, assess, decide and then act. Whereas an inexperienced rider will not see the pitfalls of their decisions until it is too late.
Remember, the goal is to bypass congestion, not to turn your journey into a high-speed chase. Nor is it about getting to your destination anxious, stressed and agitated by what you’ve just been through!
Slow means fast
The accepted safe speed for filtering is typically between 10-15 mph. It’s strongly advised not to exceed 10 mph faster than the moving traffic if you are filtering between two lines of traffic, this includes motorways if the vehicles are travelling the same way.
Speed plays a significant role in ensuring safety while filtering. If you are going too fast and the gaps suddenly close in front of you, you must be able to react. If you are going too quickly, there is no escape route and you are at high risk.
The faster you go, the less time you have to react to unexpected hazards or changes in the traffic situation. If you are riding slowly, you will be able to see what is going on and you can react in good time. You can also sound your horn to warn others of your presence.
The Hare and the Tortoise
There is a story about the hare and the tortoise, you all know the outcome of that. If you ride quickly and rush, you will probably have to keep stopping because of the traffic flow. Also your inability to react to the prevailing conditions will prevent the flow.
Advanced filtering on a motorcycle is not much different to this story. The slower you go, the quicker you get there. This is not because you are riding slowly but because you can take gaps that appear through planning and awareness. Your movement is slow and meaningful and your vision means you are able to really understand what is happening ahead of you.
Transitioning to Filtering Expert
As with any skill, practice makes perfect. As you gain more experience and confidence on the road, you can begin to engage in more complex filtering scenarios.
The key to success is training with a qualified professional or expert. Just because someone has been riding a long time does not mean they are good at this skill. Many riders take too many risks, filter too quickly and have nothing in reserve to make any changes to developing hazards.
Higher level filtering can include tight spaces in very heavy traffic and on motorways too. Tackling congested roundabouts while filtering or manoeuvring through the bustling city centre traffic can be a challenge but having the ability to use good foresight will help. Being experienced and calm will really help you make good safe decisions.
It Can be a Slow Progression
The progression from an average rider to an advanced rider regarding filtering, involves a deep understanding of the different risk factors associated with when and how to move through traffic.
Traffic lights pose a problem too, as vehicle drivers do not always indicate to move out and may pull out unexpectedly. They also do not look in their mirrors to move out or move forward. So your vision must be good and so must your planning. If you don’t like the look of something, abort the manoeuvre and stop.
You must have good forward observations to view the behaviour of other road users, which will help with swift identification of potential hazards. Always have an alternative route (escape route) at your disposal, this will keep you safe and out of harm’s way.
A great rider once told me that you should always have a safe return space planned before you attempt to overtake or filter. This was likened to an aeroplane pilot, who knows their destination before they even take off!
GET Regular RIDING TIPS
Sign up to get Riding Tips and advice directly to your inbox
One size does not fit all when it comes to filtering
The filtering strategies that work well on a motorway will not necessarily apply in a city centre and vice versa. There are times when it just isn’t safe enough to filter and if you have to force your way through a gap, you should not attempt it.
You should refrain from squeezing through gaps and forcing other vehicles to move for you. If they decide to move for you, that’s okay but they shouldn’t move to avoid hitting you.
On a motorway, you might find yourself navigating between lanes of stationary or moving traffic. Sometimes drivers change lanes suddenly, they might even move within their lane to peak at the hold up further down the motorway.
But in many cases they will not check their mirrors or blind spots before moving. You need to be aware of this and take appropriate action if you think it may happen.
On the other hand, city centre filtering can involve negotiating through tighter spaces. You should be mindful of pedestrians wandering between traffic without looking. Also with good forward vision and planning, be able to react to the unexpected like the opening of car doors.
As an advanced rider, it’s crucial to adapt your advanced filtering on a motorcycle strategy to suit different environments. Take advanced filtering guidance and always be aware of your own ability and never take risks.
The Power of Planning
‘Planning’ is to filtering what a ‘compass’ is to navigation. Effective filtering requires exceptional planning skills but this stems down to how you look at the road and behave towards the changing environment.
This doesn’t just mean planning your current manoeuvre, but thinking several steps ahead. You can only do this if you are comfortable in all situations and have a good awareness. Planning means looking well ahead and being able to juggle vision, planning and application of the bike’s controls. You must be in full control of yourself and the machine.
You should constantly be scanning your immediate surroundings as well as further forward. Predicting potential hazards and changes in the traffic situation is key to staying safe and being involved in conflict with another vehicle. Good posture helps you to look and plan well ahead.
Avoid looking at the floor
You should avoid looking at the floor directly in front of the bike and also refrain from looking at the next hazard in front of you. Be aware but do not get target fixation as this may act like a magnet and have you ride towards where you are looking.
Don’t make sudden or swift decisions based on predictions, but use your skill to meander your way through traffic safely. At times you may need to react to others actions quickly because of sudden changes but these should be built into your plan and not come as a shock.
Having an escape route is an excellent strategy for safe filtering. This is an alternative path you can take if your initial plan doesn’t work out or gets taken away from you by the actions of another vehicle. Always ride with something in reserve and not at 100% of your ability.
The Path to Becoming a Filtering Expert
The journey to becoming a proficient filterer is a journey of continuous learning and practice, but first you should get educated properly. This means seeking the guidance of an expert who is a high level educator.
It all starts with understanding the basics of safe and legal filtering. Then gradually with the help of your trainer, you will evolve to tackle more complex scenarios. This may mean riding in rush hour under guidance or finding a motorway that is congested so that your riding skills can be assessed and developed.
Remember, the key to successful filtering lies not in speed, but in careful judgement and sound decision-making. A commitment to safety is paramount and you must avoid coming into contact with any vehicles. A slight glance may be harmless for the four wheeled vehicle but could be catastrophic for a rider on two wheels.
With education, patience, practice, and a safety-first approach, you can master the skill of advanced filtering on a motorcycle. This will make all your rides more efficient, enjoyable, and above all, safe – Keep it on the Black Stuff.