How to make progress on a motorcycle and use of speed
The exhilarating sound of an engine, the feel of the road beneath your wheels, the thrill of speed, the anticipation of the perfect corner while feeling the rush of air as you start banking over.
These are just a few things that make motorcycling such a unique and exciting hobby and mode of transport. To be honest not many riders use it as their only vehicle but most use motorcycling for a different reason.
With the freedom of two wheels comes the responsibility of navigating the road network safely. Central to this is understanding the concept of ‘making progress’ and using the correct speed to do so.
In this article, we will explore how to make progress on a motorcycle and the use of speed and more importantly how they can be incorrectly perceived. The fine line between speed and progress can cause higher risk to riders, especially those who use speed in the wrong place, wrong situation and wrong time.
Understanding ‘Making Progress
In motorcycling, ‘making progress’ is a term used to describe the ability to smoothly and efficiently navigate through traffic. At the same time ensuring your safety and that of other road users..
It’s about riding with purpose, selecting the right position on the road and choosing the appropriate speed for each situation. Riding too fast will cause problems and create the need to react suddenly if things do not go to plan.
Making progress is not about speed and haste, it’s about measured, intelligent movement at all times.
The Integral Role of Speed in Making Progress
While speed can often be seen as a negative trait on the roads, it is a vital aspect of making progress. But there is a fine line and a good rider knows when and how to use the throttle appropriately.
It’s not about breaking speed limits or taking unnecessary risks but understanding how to match your riding speed to the conditions. If you can do this in every situation you will effectively be in control of your motorcycle at all times.
When used properly, speed can be harnessed to maintain a good flow. You must use good throttle sense and application to avoid potential hazards, and make your journey more efficient.
Good forward vision is required and by using a combination of planning, awareness and defensive riding you will always be travelling in the correct gear, at the correct speed all the time.
Riders must learn how to make progress on a motorcycle and use their throttle correctly to adjust to the correct speed. Throttle sense is an important skill to learn and master.
The Crucial Difference Between Speeding and Making Progress
Speeding and making progress are two distinct concepts and it’s important not to blur the lines between them.
Speeding involves exceeding the legal speed limit or driving too fast for the prevailing conditions, which often results in dangerous situations and risks lives. Even if you do not reach the speed limit, you could still be riding too quickly in certain situations.
Conversely, making progress is all about riding efficiently and safely, respecting the rules of the road and utilising appropriate speed to keep a progressive momentum. This means riding at the speed appropriate in all situations. At times this may be well below the speed limit, riders in city centres often filter well below the speed limit and still make progress.
The Consequences of Speeding
Excessive speed reduces your ability to steer safely around corners, it causes the bike to want to go straight and can be difficult to steer if the power delivery is at the wrong time.
It also extends the distance needed to stop if necessary and increases the distance the bike travels before the rider reacts. Even with good forward vision, if you are speeding it will dramatically affect the way you deal with hazards.
Speeding, especially in the wrong places is a fast track to loss of control, being involved in accidents and breaking the law. This will result in gaining points or losing your driving licence.
It’s crucial to remember that the faster you go, the harder it becomes to react effectively to unexpected situations. The best place to speed is in a controlled environment, like the race track.
The Rewards of Making Progress Safely
On the other hand, making progress safely brings about numerous benefits. It can reduce the risk of accidents by ensuring you have more time to react to hazards.
It promotes smoother rides, leading to less wear and tear on your motorcycle and as a result will save cost as you won’t need to change items like brake pads so often. It also reduces rider fatigue, which is a byproduct of riding defensively.
Plus, a hidden cost of being a controlled rider will help you save on fuel costs by optimising your bike’s performance. It might not be a lot on each tank of fuel but after years of riding at a higher standard the overall saving of bike repairs and consumables mounts up.
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Developing Skillful Use of Speed
Becoming proficient in using speed for safe progress doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a skill that requires understanding, practice, and patience. The best way to start on the road to improvement is professional training, this will save time by having bespoke guidance from the outset.
It starts with knowing your machine, its capabilities and your own personal limits. It is very rare that you will use your motorcycle to its limit, but understanding the characteristics of the bike and learning how to operate it correctly is key.
Advanced rider training courses are instrumental in developing this understanding. As they provide guidance on machine handling, hazard perception and speed control to name but a few. Dedicated instruction will elevate your skills but you must have regular top ups to stay on track.
Accounting for the Riding Environment
Adapting to changing riding conditions is a vital aspect of utilising speed effectively. Different environments require different speed adjustments. The speed limits are set for a reason, in a lower speed limit more hazards can be expected. Look out for speed limit signs near schools, the speed may be reduced further.
A clear, open road with good visibility offers the opportunity to safely increase speed, good vision and planning will give you the information you need to adopt the correct speed. Be aware of hidden dangers that may be lurking around the next bend.
In congested city centres the hazards vary considerably, there are many hidden dangers to deal with. Time riding in this type of environment will elevate your experience and help you to become familiar with the surroundings. Always expect the unexpected to happen.
How to make progress in heavy traffic is down to good planning with vision. On a motorcycle the use of speed is determined by the rider’s ability and confidence.
If the road surface is wet or slippery because of spillages, you should learn how to react. The general rule is to avoid such conditions but if you can’t, put the bike in an upright position to negotiate the poor road surface. Always take a cautious approach if you are unsure.
Becoming adept at reading the road and anticipating changes is part and parcel of effective progress. This can only be achieved by developing better forward vision and effective observation. Planning also plays a key role and riders should learn how to look further ahead for clues.
Reflecting on Your Own Riding
Progress isn’t just about learning and action, it’s about reflection too. A valuable habit to form is reflecting on your riding after each journey. This is easier said than done, as most riders blame others for their inability and for situations they get themselves in.
Analyse your speed, did you go into any hazards too quickly or rode through a situation slower than usual? Look at your reactions to other road users and the safety of your overall ride.
Identify any instances where you may have been speeding unnecessarily or where your use of speed didn’t contribute to efficient progress. The throttle works both ways and in some situations you may have to stop.
Learning and reflecting on previous rides will help you improve your future decision making on the road.
Embracing Continuous Learning
The road to becoming a skilled motorcyclist is one of continuous learning. With each ride, you encounter new situations that can teach you something. Always reflect on each ride, that’s why we advise you to have a set route as you can reflect more easily on familiar roads.
Seek out additional resources such as books, eBooks and online training videos. Try to avoid the want-to-be helpers who are full of great advice but not always accurate. They may not even be great riders themselves but will always try to give you tips on what you should do. Leave that advice to the experts.
The more knowledge and experience you learn, the better equipped you will be to make wise decisions regarding speed and progress. Even the best advanced riders undergo top up training, usually known as Continuous Professional Development.
To Sum it All Up
How to make progress on a motorcycle and use of speed is a skill that involves much more than riding fast. It’s about understanding and respecting the road, your motorcycle and the rules of the road.
It’s about balancing the need for efficiency with safety. It’s about learning, understanding, applying, reflecting and continuously striving to improve your own riding ability.
By fully comprehending the difference between speeding and making progress safely, you can become not just a faster rider but a better, safer one too.
Next time you put on your helmet and rev your engine, remember – it’s not just about the destination but the journey and how you choose to navigate it. Ride safe and Keep it on the Black Stuff.