Why Riding A Motorbike Makes You A Better Driver

Bikers often get a lot of stick from the four-wheeled community for being 'leather-clad hooligans', but in reality, they (me included) actually make better road users...
Why Riding A Motorbike Makes You A Better Driver

A recent study conducted by insurance company Carole Nash revealed that motorcyclists have a better knowledge of the rules of the road than people on four wheels. Based on the official DVSA quiz, bikers outperformed drivers on issues of road safety, identifying road signs and overtaking safely. This research backs up other studies which show that bikers make significantly safer car drivers. But why is that?

1. Awareness

Why Riding A Motorbike Makes You A Better Driver

Motorbikers don’t have crumple zones or side curtain airbags to protect them in a crash, and because they’re sometimes invisible to road users on four wheels, their lives depend on their awareness of their surroundings.

Because there’s no space for making assumptions on two wheels, bikers learn to question everything. Riding like everyone is trying to kill them is also a mindset that bikers adopt, which makes their hazard perception far sharper than those who are surrounded by a wall of steel and safety.

2. Reading the road

Why Riding A Motorbike Makes You A Better Driver

One of the first pieces of advice you’ll receive when learning how to ride is to “look where you want to go”. This might seem like common sense, but it’s absolutely crucial in order to avoid being caught out by the target fixation phenomenon; this is where you look at the object you want to avoid and therefore steer into it.

As a result, from day one you are taught to look ahead and push your point of focus as far as possible. Riding performance motorcycles makes you think about your road craft even further. Techniques like using the vanishing point to know when to get on the throttle is the key to a safe and fast country road blast. All of these skills are fully transferable to the four-wheeled world but you’ll learn almost none of them during your normal ‘driving test’.

3. Visibility

Why Riding A Motorbike Makes You A Better Driver

Checking your blindspots is something that is drilled into you during your motorcycle test, and by the time you’ve passed it’s become second nature. If you’re lucky enough to own a sports bike like the Ducati 1299, looking over your shoulder to check for traffic will become even more of a necessity. Not because the bike is slow, but because the mirrors are absolutely useless.

When learning to drive you are taught to look over your shoulder, but only for certain situations. And with more manufacturers like Mercedes installing blind spot warning systems, taking responsibility for your own surroundings is something that is going to diminish. If the bike test were compulsory for all road users, there would be far more attentive drivers on our roads.

4. Regular Maintenance

Why Riding A Motorbike Makes You A Better Driver

We’re often told by insurers and roadside assistance groups that we should check our tyre pressures and oil level before we set off on a long trip. But how many of us actually do it? Ask a motorcycle rider the same question, however, and I guarantee that the majority check over their bike before each ride. Checking tyre pressures, oil levels and chain tension can be the difference between life and death.

Bikes are also a great place to start experimenting with some DIY wrenching. Everything is easily accessible and you can start off small with modifications like slip on exhausts, and then work your way up to changing brakes and suspension components. After a while of working on your bike, servicing and modifying your car no longer seems like such a daunting prospect.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of checking your phone at the lights or resetting your sat-nav on the move. But once you’ve taken to two wheels you gain a whole new appreciation of focusing on the road.

Sitting higher up on a bike allows you to see most road users’ bad habits and a five-minute ride will reveal all manner of bad habits. With time, bikers develop a ‘sixth sense’ making it easy for them to determine what each driver is doing just from the way they are placing their car on road.

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For bikers, the weather is everything. It dictates if and when you go out for a ride, which bike you take (if you’re lucky enough to have more than one) and even what protective gear you wear. Obviously it’s possible to get caught out by the conditions, but thinking ahead before you’ve even set off is something that some four-wheeled road users could really benefit from.

Now granted, there’s not much need to plan ahead when driving to work on a sunny summer’s day, but future planning has come in handy many times during the winter.



all of these would apply well to lorry drivers, well most of us anyways

12/02/2015 - 11:46 |
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4x4 FTW

I think riding a bike you learn a bit of driving dynamics more than an car. When on a bike you feel every wheigt transfer and suspension loads. It’s much more sensorial and when you get back to 4 wheels you understand the rolling better

12/02/2015 - 11:52 |
10 | 0

haha its funny how so many motorcycle posts are coming up around this time of year. ive already decided back in september that all money earned this christmas is going into Motorcycle licence. As much as i love cars and the sounds they make, for someone who is starting out my life with very little financial backing i can have alot more fun on a bike than in a car.

Im pretty happy also how a Bike crash course for 1 week (6 days) costs £650 which takes you from provisional to full licence.

Anyway, hopefully the hatred between cars and bikes will be squished as both parties realise that they are both cool and are fun and why not own both!

(Insert why not both meme)

12/02/2015 - 11:53 |
66 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Also i’d like to add, In my opinion the state of motor racing bikes are pretty entertaining and they scream like the old V10/V12s of the early 2000’s F1. If you guys want to watch some fun action watch the Irish road racing races, its ridiculous. TT isnt that bad either :)

12/02/2015 - 11:54 |
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patrick poirier

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

absolutely spend the extra money for the course its incredible how quickly it brings you from a first time rider to an confident rider

12/02/2015 - 12:00 |
10 | 0
Mitch Drake

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

That’s a lot more expensive than the class I took! Mine was $300, and was only 2, 8 hour days over the weekend. But still, I highly recommend it to everyone looking to get on 2 wheels. I know it’s saved my life a bunch of times, learning emergency breaking and how to avoid situations quickly is key!

12/02/2015 - 17:38 |
2 | 0

On the senses thing – you also get to smell everything around you. In London, that’s mostly lots of car and van drivers smoking weed behind the wheel… not cool.

Also, riding a motorbike in the wet is a huge lesson in being smooth – how many car drivers are aware of how slippery wet white lines and manhole covers are? Ask a motorcyclist about riding over one in the wet and they’ll probably get a clenchy bumhole.

12/02/2015 - 12:04 |
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Stephen S

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Even my MX-5 slips on wet lines. Wet lines are a nasty trap for the young players.

12/02/2015 - 13:52 |
6 | 0

As an ex rider myself, I can attest to the awareness part. You learn to keep everyone out of your “bubble” and don’t let yourself become mixed in with general traffic (if at all possible) and it teaches you to instinctively be aware of exactly what cars are around you, how fast they’re going, etc.

12/02/2015 - 12:15 |
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Igor Konuhov

One of these “aware cautious road reading professionals” managed to run over my friend in city limits killing him instantly. Yeah, I reserve the right to call them all useless wankers unless they prove themselves to be any different.

12/02/2015 - 12:19 |
4 | 10

I have been riding for 4 years, and driving cars for 3.
Its actually mind boggling how little other new drivers can read traffic and the road. On two wheels, you have to really read the traffic around you - potential dangerous situations, who might make a sudden lane change, do others see you ect. At the same time you have to look at the road - bumps, potholes, oil slicks, gravel, wet spots, and sand, all can take you out if you are careless or not paying attention. Even when driving cars, you will still take the same precautions as riding. It truly does become second nature.
When changing lanes, I would never rely solely on my mirrors, because I know how easy it is for a bike to get lost in a blind spot.

12/02/2015 - 12:21 |
8 | 0

In reply to by Z0ne

Exactly. I’ve been daily commuting on my bike for 3 years now, but last year I got my car license. Riding my bike made me a lot better. Just a couple of days ago, a friend of mine gave me a ride home (in his car), and him being a new driver too, I just couldn’t help being astounded by the difference in attention, and thinking about “that guy is going to cut me off”. He once entered a roundabout, thinking that another car that was in the wrong would stop for him. Nearly crashed. The day after I took his car and drove him to school, and the biker instinct was up, I saw a car starting to move from a car park to my right, and thought “that guy is going to enter the road and cut me off”. I started braking slightly, and rightly, the guy entered the road not caring for me, and cut me off

12/02/2015 - 12:28 |
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Couldn’t agree more. When I started driving my car, I had been daily commuting my motorcycle for a bit over a year at the time, and by riding daily, I had really picked up a lot of skills that people my age didn’t have, since they never rode bikes. I can really say that riding a bike really made me a better driver. Plus, the whole not shifting mid corner, when you’re pushing a car hard, it was really implanted in my brain.

As an edit: I plainly believe that everyone should be forced to ride a motorcycle daily for at least a month, just to learn how vulnerable they get, and to pick up a few skills like awareness, and starting to mind about the other drivers. That would result in drivers being considerably better and stopping to think “Oh, I bet I can turn around right here, that biker surely is going to be able to stop until he gets here”

12/02/2015 - 12:22 |
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Dat muscle guy (Sam Stone)(Camaro Squad)(Die augen leader)(E

Welp guess its high time I start borrowing my friend’s motorcycle then

12/02/2015 - 12:37 |
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Well-said except of one minor mistake. At the begining of the article it says “they’re sometimes invisible to road users on four wheels,”… The truth is:

“they’re SOMETIMES VISIBLE to road users on four wheels,”

always ride like you are invisible to car drivers and they don’t care about you…

12/02/2015 - 12:45 |
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