What is the correct road position when riding a motorcycle?
Here at Motorcycle Riders Hub, we believe that there is no such thing as the wrong road position when riding.
So, what is the correct road position when riding a motorcycle? Well, as long as you have thought about it and put yourself in that position for a reason. It is the correct position for you, at that given time.
But riders do ride around quite aimlessly and just end up in the position they are in without any thought. If this is the case for you, there is a strong possibility that you can significantly improve your riding skills with some further advice, education and guidance.
Advanced training will help you to Keep it on the Black Stuff ®.
The safest position is always correct
There are a few things that you can learn to help you be in the best road position for every circumstance. They are not set in stone but are a guide. Use it to help know where to be but remember, it’s the rider’s perception of danger that puts them in the best position for that moment in time.
There is a saying that we constantly use and that is “The correct position is not always the safest but the safest position is always correct, ”.
This is true if you are a thinking rider and process the information in front of you. This in turn allows you to think about the best position to negotiate any hazard.
Think about where you ride
Many riders do not think very much about where they ride, they just go out to have a ride and have fun.
You can make your riding so much more fun by having a methodical way of riding that keeps you safer. It also gives you something to practise when you go out for a ride on your own or with friends..
Imagine knowing where to position in all situations
Imagine knowing what the best or correct road position is for every situation because of your knowledge and thought process. You automatically put yourself in the correct position for the situation! Wouldn’t that be a good thing?
I’ve heard it said many times before that riders love to go out and ride to their favourite place or coffee shop. One of the problems with this is it becomes a little bit monotonous. They ride the same route all the time which becomes boring and eventually the bike becomes a dust collector in the garage!
That is such a pity, but if you had something to actually practise and work on every time you went out riding to improve the way you ride, you’d have a new lease of life. Riding would be so much more fun and you would start to enjoy it again.
Not only that, your riding would be much better too.
Adopting the correct position
While you are riding you should constantly be looking and thinking ahead. By using the ‘Information stage’ correctly you should be well equipped with a good plan and methodical process which will help you to position correctly and in good time. Whenever possible, always position for view but move away from danger.
This means that you should sacrifice road position for your safety. The correct position is not always the safest but the safest position is always correct.
The road position you adopt should be considered because of numerous factors. The available road grip you have with the tyres is just one of the considerations. Other factors play a part in your decision making to achieve a good road position, they are for your own view and most importantly, your safety.
As a learner rider you were more than likely told to ride in the middle of the lane. This is because you were new to riding and it gives you a safe place to ride with greater margin for error. This means that if you hold the central position in the lane and you drift around the road, there is a margin for error and there is less chance of drifting out of the lane.
This central position is also good to protect your road space and prevent vehicles from trying to get past in the same lane that you are in.
However, there are times when this road position is not a good place to be once you have passed the motorcycle test. It is a basic riding position and is great for new riders who are learning to ride.
Advanced positioning adds value
Just in case you have never done any advanced training, to start with, split the road into three areas. We will refer to these three areas as positions 1, 2 and 3. These three positions give you an ideal starting point to position for all types of danger ahead of you.
Always use The System of Motorcycle Control to plan your journey, this gives you a structured approach to riding and helps you change from an average, to a good rider.
Position 1 – Left hand side or left hand wheel track
Use the left hand side of the lane for position 1. It is the left hand third of the lane, but does not include riding in the gutter where the drains and the area where double yellow lines are painted.
You can adopt this position for maximum view as you approach a right hand bend. Also if you intend to turn left you can move closer to the direction you intend to turn. This gives another piece of information to other road users too. Or if you are moving away from oncoming vehicles who may be overtaking something if they encroach into your lane.
But be aware of what is behind you before you move to the left. That’s because this movement may give an impatient driver behind you the green light to try and overtake.
If you are not happy with the closeness of the vehicle following you, do not move to the left hand side of the lane. This is all down to your vision, awareness and planning.
Position 2 – Central position between the wheel tracks
The central riding position is often referred to as the neutral position. As explained above it is often used for new riders and it gives maximum safety margins to both sides. Whilst riding in this position, if dangers exist on both sides, the neutral riding position is a good option.
This section is the middle third area of the lane, in between where the two wheel tracks of vehicles are located on the road surface.
This area also has a little bit more grip, as the millions of car tyres do not normally go over this section of the lane. The left and right wheel track is often a little bit smoother where the road becomes polished and shiny.
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The centre section looks a different colour
The centre section is normally darker grey in appearance. This indicates where the central road position is, if you want to ride in this location. It often has more grip because of a lack of wheeled traffic, it can be a good place to ride when the road surface is wet.
Always be mindful of the area that you ride in where others don’t usually position. This is because there is more risk of picking up nails, screws and other debris if you ride in a position that car tyres don’t usually go (like the extreme left position next to the kerb).
Position 3 – Right hand side or right hand wheel track
The right hand side of the lane is also known as position 3. It is the right hand third of the lane, but not too close to the centre white line, for your own safety.
If you choose this riding position and there is oncoming traffic, move slightly away back towards the centre of the lane for safety. This is referred to as sacrificing space for safety.
You should adopt this position for normal riding on a straight road where there is no other advantage for any other riding position. It gives you a good view of the road ahead and puts you in a prominent dominating road position.
Position for view
You can move to position 3 for maximum view as you approach a left hand bend, this will allow you to see further around the bend. You should also move to this position if it is safe to do so when turning right and passing near-side hazards.
As you develop your riding style using these three positions, you will become familiar with where you should be for every situation. But as your ability improves you can be more precise within each of the three sections in your lane.
This gives you approximately nine positions as you improve your ability to keep the bike on-line. As an example you can be central, left or right in position 1,2 or 3, giving you nine positions to work on as you become a better rider and more proficient.
This phrase has always been a talking point. It was a widely debated subject many years ago and died down for a number of years. But it rises above the parapet every now and again and becomes the latest talking point when cornering.
Off-siding is the term used when riders use the opposite side of the road to gain a better view going into a left hand bend. I won’t discuss it too much here because it has no place in modern training practices by either professional trainers or part time volunteers who give instruction to other people.
Leave it to the police
It should be left to those with high degrees of skill levels, who understand when, why and where to use this style of riding (i.e. police riders in their role). For basic advanced training it should not be discussed or used at all in any training plan.
I find that people who do use it, try to big themselves up or try to make themself look or feel better having more knowledge than their student! It is not necessary in normal riding conditions.
Never dismiss an alternative road position
This really does depend on your decision making, planning and awareness. Your main concern and goal is always to reduce danger and minimise risk to the absolute minimum. This can only be done by improving the way you look at the road ahead and how you perceive hazards.
Good vision will allow you to choose the safest option and move to the best position. You will not always be able to ride in the ideal position. The situation may force you to use an alternative road position to increase your own personal safety margins.
Your chosen road position is the result of a good, well formed plan. Your ability to see things early will greatly increase your ability to move road position early.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get the same result. Start to make changes now to improve your riding skills.
When you are riding your road position isn’t about where you are right now, it’s about where you want to position further down the road. This can only be achieved by using a methodical process which starts with better forward vision.
Once you have seen the clues ahead, adjust your road position if necessary to reduce your risk. You should decide which is the best road position for your own safety. Look at the process you use and if you frequently find yourself in the wrong place, look at the beginning part of your structured approach.
Riding aimlessly elevates risk
Just riding aimlessly with no plan will put you in danger and out of position. This will mean that you are closer to hazards, have to swerve away from danger at the last second and have those scary moments that increase your heart beat!
Practice moving for view but stay away from danger, this means that your road position should be adopted to reduce risk over having a better view.
Being precise with good road position takes time to master, you will need to reduce speed to be able to process new skills and to be comfortable in the new riding positions. Good luck in your new found skill and Keep it on the Black Stuff ®.