And there are five ways in which we're most likely to go over that line, including a surprise scenario involving a roundabout and the inability to stop for it. So we asked a Honda advanced motorcycling instructor, to tell us which crashes are the most common and what we can do to help stop them.
1.Crashes on CornersMaybe it's obvious, but making a hash of a corner is the number one crash culprit. Our advanced motorcycling instructor reckons the vast majority are down to the rider attacking the corner too fast for their ability or, very occasionally, too fast for the motorcycle's ability.
The problem is with corner entry and it ends in running straight on, maybe into traffic, or either panic braking or leaning over until there's no grip left. The solution is in reading the corner and waiting until you have a better view of the turn before tipping in. Get to the left of the road for a right bend and to the right for a left. Practicing on corners you know will help you read the ones you don't
2. Crashes at JunctionsAt a junction the driver has no understanding that you might be going twice as fast as other traffic. He's not on the look-out for motorcycles and doesn't see you. Our advance motorcycling instructor has little time for the blanket 'it's the car driver's fault for not seeing me' argument. He says, 'It's unreasonable to expect a motorist to anticipate a motorcycle arriving at high speed. So it's the rider's responsibility to make sure he's been seen. Almost all junctions are signed but if you can't see the junction then someone at that junction can't possibly see you.'
The advice is obvious: slow down and position yourself to be as easily visible as possible, extending the car driver's reaction time to something that's reasonable. And even if there's a clear line of sight, never assume you've been seen. Here, paranoia is no bad thing.
3. Hitting roundaboutsThis one surprises most riders, but our instructor says the number of these crashes can't be ignored. Riders arrive at a roundabout at speed and can't slow in time, then they cross on to the island and hit the road furniture or park fence. Our instructor says, 'I know it sounds odd, but that's it – it's short and sweet. Modern motorcycles make 100km/h seem like 90km/h and it's only when you come to stop you realize the difference.'
Practice braking whenever you can, in a situation where stopping in a hurry is a bonus rather than a life-saving necessity. Apply the front brake so it loads weight over the front, and only then squeeze harder to stop harder. If you have ABS practice activating it so you know what will happen.
4. Surface or obstacle CrashesA rider bombs round a corner and finds something in his path. Diesel, motor-oil, a patch of wet tarmac, a parked car, a slow-moving tractor, a water-buffalo, elephant or, if you're really unlucky, the whole lot. Unable to stop in time, the rider hits it.
Our advanced motorcycling instructor says, 'The key is the word 'unexpected'. The rider has made a judgment or assumption that the road will be clear. There were no junction signs, nothing to forewarn the rider, so he zooms to his doom.'
The only way to absolutely guarantee this will never happen to you is to always ensure you can stop within distance you can see to be clear in some situations this means going very slowly. It's a case of minimizing the risk without taking all the fun out of it, to factor in a chance of stopping or shedding plenty of speed before impact.
5. OvertakesThese are usually not head-on collisions but impacts with the thing you're overtaking when it turns right into your path. Our instructor says, 'The typical accident is hitting someone going in the same direction who turns across the motorcycle's path.'
His advice: when overtaking, scour the offside of the road for anywhere a car might want to go. Watch the ones traveling very slowly as they are bound to be looking for somewhere to go. Overtaking is easy so there's no reason to take difficult ones.