Already A Member? Sign In

Close this search box.

Rear observations using mirror checks when riding a motorcycle

Rear observations using mirror checks when riding a motorcycle

Rear Observations Using mirror Checks When Riding a Motorcycle

Whilst you are riding there are many different occasions when you need to look in the mirror to see what is happening directly behind you. Observations are categorised into three different types, they are; mirror checks, lifesaver checks and over the shoulder observations into the blind spot.

The look over the shoulder can be used to assess the situation in the blind spot. The look over the shoulder changes name depending on what you do directly after you have looked.

If you move position it is called a lifesaver but if you do not move position and just look into the blind spot it is just a rearward check and called an observation. Whilst carrying out an observation over the shoulder, you should also take a look in the mirror to see what is happening directly behind you, this way you have carried out effective observations prior to changing speed, direction or both. Many riders do not look correctly or their vision is poor when they do look.

You must be able to react to what you see, prior to changing speed or direction. There is little point carrying out a lifesaver glance and then continuing with a manoeuvre.

A few areas where I would suggest rear observations using mirror checks.

Changing speed

If you are riding forward in a straight line and want to speed up or slow down, you should take a mirror check in the right hand mirror. This is because that’s where the normal traffic flow would be overtaking.

If it was a wide lane you could check both mirrors because there could be traffic passing on either side. If it is clear and safe as you look forward, you can then accelerate up to the new speed.

If you are slowing down you may elect to do a mirror check in the right mirror, again on a wide road or if you’ve got more time a left mirror check too. If it is safe and clear, you can then slow down using your brakes and go down through the gears as appropriate.

Motorcycle Training Instructor and student


Sign up to get Riding Tips and advice directly to your inbox


If you’re riding down the road and want to indicate right or left, you should have a look in the right hand mirror and then indicate your intention.

You should check the right mirror first because that is where the traffic would be overtaking prior to signalling. The left mirror can also be checked but do not neglect looking in the right-hand mirror. Then put the left indicator on to show your intention to turn left.

Before you apply the signal on a wide road you could carry out mirror checks in both mirrors in case you have left space for another vehicle to undertake you.

When Stationary

If you are sat in traffic at a set of traffic lights or in a queue you should keep your mind active by looking in your mirror regularly.

This is to look for any overtaking vehicles, such as cyclists or other motorcyclists. There is also a possibility in towns and cities where pedestrians could be in close proximity.

Corners and Bends

If you are cornering or going around a slight bend, you should look into the same mirror as the direction of the bend.

This requires a right hand mirror check in the right hand bend. This will give you good vision behind and will allow you to see further back into the bend. The look needs to be correctly timed to get full advantage of rearward vision.

The timing can be varied depending on the severity of the corner. You can take a look prior to entering the bend and then look midway through the bend. This will give you a good view of the bend entrance for vehicles behind you.

Then once you leave the corner, you can keep an eye in the same mirror as the bend will be visible for some distance after you have exited.

When travelling in a left hand bend, simply look in the left hand mirror for the same effect. Take a look in the mirror at any time to ensure you are happy or aware of the situation behind you.

Ride safe and Keep it on the Black Stuff.

Written by Simon Hayes

Grab our sample pack!

Want a free sample on whats included in our memberships?


Become a member today to gain access to our courses and exclusive member content* including:

* Content may differ between each membership

MRH Logo


Tell us what you think of Motorcycle Riders Hub by filling out the form below...

Sorry. You must be logged in to view this form.


Enter your your name and email to receive the tips straight to your inbox every fortnight

"*" indicates required fields