If you are one of the younger generations in the UK, it won’t be long before you are thinking of becoming independent and part of being an adult is having your own transport. At the age of 17, you can apply for a provisional driving licence that allows you to ride a bike up to 125cc and if that is part of your plan, here are a few tips to help you get acquainted with riding a bike in the UK.
- Wearing the right gear – The most important aspect of bike riding is the clothing and protective gear that you need. A good quality full-face helmet is essential; one that conforms with British Standards and the ideal protective clothing is leather. You can buy a stylish leather motorcycle jacket and trousers, and while this won’t be cheap, a single investment would last a lifetime. Good boots with ankle support and a pair of motorcycle gloves complete the look.
- Choosing a bike – If you are new to riding, you will need to start on a 125cc machine and after a while, upgrade to the awesome Honda CB500X at Wheels Motorcycles, the UK’s leading bike dealership with new and used machines at affordable prices. Whether you prefer the sleek sports bike or the laid-back tourer, the online dealership has you covered. You can book a test ride via their website and with low-interest finance, you can spread the payment over a couple of years.
- Getting street legal – Riding on the UK roads means you need to have a valid UK driving licence, road tax and insurance, while a bike that is older than 3 years needs to have a valid MOT certificate. If you are buying a new bike, the dealership will handle the vehicle registration and road tax, plus they have the best insurance deals.
- Get some training – Take a half-day motorcycle basic riding course, which will teach you how to control the bike on a range of surfaces; a Google search will help you locate a nearby motorcycle safety training school and you can book your place online. The course will teach you correct braking techniques and safe gear-changing practices, plus essential handling skills.
- Be seen! – It is very important that other road users can see you and keeping your headlights on all the time is one way of laming yourself more visible; many experienced riders wear a Hi-Vis vest, which is a great addition to your riding gear and at night, the reflective material shows drivers exactly where you are.
- Bike maintenance – It is critical that your bike is serviced according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Engine oils need to be replaced, along with the oil and air filters, while spark plugs should be closely inspected and replaced when necessary. Brake pads are inspected for excess wear, while the chain tension is also checked and tyres are given a close inspection. Bike services are set according to mileage, not time and the recommended service intervals are in the owner’s manual. Invest in a power wash machine and use it after every ride, which removes all dirt and mud from the bike. You can order the machine online and simply hook it up to a hosepipe and you are good to go! Failing that, your local car wash would accept bikes.
- Winter Riding – Be careful when riding in icy conditions, especially be on the lookout for black ice, which would have you off in a second! The so called ‘fair weather riders’ garage their machines at the end of September, until the following April, while others brave the elements all year round. Remember to dress suitably in cold conditions and in the event of snowfall, leave the bike at home.
Here is some information about applying for a bike licence in the UK, which you should find helpful and as the UK summer has passed us by, you can plan to get on the road next spring; choose the right bike, invest in all the gear and get legal, then a new dimension of independence is yours!