Who hasn’t got any bad riding habits? Don’t lie, none of us are perfect, I bet you all have the odd bad habit you’ve picked up. Maybe you don’t realise, maybe you know full well but have never managed to shake it. Below are a number of very common bad habits and why they can be bad.
Covering The Front Brake
Covering the front brake can be bad as when taken by surprise you are more likely to grab a handful, panic brake and lock up the front wheel. Especially if you have no ABS, are banked over or in the wet. By not covering the brake, you are more likely to consider a swerve instead or brake progressively.
Secondly, if (like me) you tend to cover with two fingers only, you won’t be applying as much leverage on the brake lever, and possibly obstructing it with your other fingers. If you brake hard and your little finger gets squashed, at best you can’t brake any harder, at worst you’re gonna release the brake cause your little pinky hurts!
By this I mean riding with you heels on the pegs and toes flared out to the side of the rear brake and gear shift. Ideally, you should place the balls of your feet on the pegs to avoid scraping boots on the road when cornering, better plant yourself on the bike and direct your weight down through the pegs.
On bends you can then press down on the outside peg through the balls of your feet to help shift your weight and avoid such great lean angles. Better in the wet when you really don’t want to lean excessively and better in dry to facilitate more speed at same lean (and avoid getting too close to edge of tyres or grounding out).
Habitual Speeding in 30/40 Zones
Yeah, we probably all speed a little from time to time. However it’s the habitual speeding in 30/40 residential zones, constantly riding 5-10mph over that’s particularly bad. You all know how much it increases stopping distances, you know full well how unpredictable the suburbs can be and you’ve all seen the TV safety broadcasts of kids stepping out etc. Say no more.
Sitting on Bike to Fill With Fuel
Maybe you really want to brim the tank to avoid filling up too often, but have no centre stand, so sitting on the bike to keep it vertical while you fill up seems reasonable, yeah? That is until a drop of petrol is split or splashed, down onto yourself and the hot engine underneath you before igniting – whooosshh!
Doing the funky chicken dance whilst your crotch is on fire ain’t a good look and could earn you a Darwin award. This guy got off lucky:
Gripping Bars too Tight
Very common with newer riders is the tendency to grip the handle bars tight. This is bad for a number of reasons:
- Every bump in the road will be transferred up through the bars, your arms into your shoulders, which hinders your control and soon becomes very fatiguing.
- It can also put more of your own weight on the front, which can affect handling and potentially grip.
Loosen off, drop those elbows and relax.
Paddling Feet at Slow Speed
Very common with newbies and less confident riders, instinctively popping feet down to paddle along as you desperately feel the bike will topple as your jerk along at low speed. On the contrary however, raising your feet and feathering the rear brake to moderate speed achieves much better and smoother slow speed control.
So pick them feet up and practice your slow speed control; crack open the throttle a little and keep it fixed, then use your rear brake alone to control your speed and using the clutch as needed to avoid stalling.
Holding Clutch in When Stationary
When pulling up at traffic lights, it’s all too easy to just sit there with your clutch held in. Some bikes can be pig to get into neutral and we all want to be ready to shoot off promptly. However there is actually two schools of thought on this one, so consider both:
The first says holding the clutch in puts unnecessary strain and wear on the clutch cable, increasing the risk of it snapping. It could also increase the risk of accidentally slipping and lurching forward maybe into a pedestrian crossing the road.
However the second school of thought says it’s better to be in gear and ready to go in case an inattentive driver behind has not seen the red light in time and is looking like they’re rear end shunt you.
Riding in Trainers and T-shirt
Or any inappropriate gear for that matter. I know leathers are hot in the summer, you’re only popping on bike for 5 mins to shops and the cool wind is so exhilarating – but it only takes some other idiot to screw things up and you’re a mess.
My wife always likes to regale me with tails from her time as an A&E nurse, scrubbing up for a RTA who had come off his bike in jeans and t-shirt, needing to go under a general anaesthetic so they could scrub all the dirt out of the remaining flesh down one side of his body…
Headlights on Main Beam
I’ve seen many a biker riding with main beam on in attempt to make themselves more noticeable on the road. However, this can cause more issues than it solves: it dazzles other drivers, so they can’t judge your speed of distance away. It can also blind drivers to other bikers, cyclists, pedestrians etc who are also in line of sight.
If you want to use light to stand out, install some additional auxiliary daylight running lights or apply a yellow light tint. The variation in light pattern or colour is far more effective.
What are your Bad Riding Habits?
Are you guilty of any of the above bad habits? Maybe you were in the past, how did you overcome them? I certainly was and I’m still guilty of some! Are there other bad habits you have or have seen in others? Comment below and let me know.
Seasoned London commuter, doing my best to stay rubber side down and never stop moving forward.