The number one way to improve your riding is to look as far ahead as is physically possible. Even experienced riders often don’t do this, and find themselves reacting to hazards rather than planning for them.
This is linked to #1, and involves looking for the point where the two edges of the road converge when cornering. If that point appears to be moving towards you, the corner is tightening, so slow down. If it doesn’t appear to move, you’re at the right speed.
Upper body tension wrecks a bike’s handling because it stops the bars moving freely. If you find the bike doesn’t want to turn, or keeps running wide, check your upper body for tension. Aching neck or shoulders are a clue.
If you’re dawdling along you can waft round corners. But if you want to go at any decent speed, you need to steer positively, using counter-steering. This means you push with your right hand to go right, push left to go left, tipping the bike smoothly onto your desired line.
Don’t listen to the pub bores who say you should never have to brake if you’re riding well. Two points: a) if you’re riding above a certain pace, you most definitely will have to brake; and b) if you never brake, you’ll be out of practice in an emergency situation. If the road is clear behind you, it’s worth practicing your emergency stops
Our tame crash investigator reports that 50% of motorcycle crashes he attends in the summer are ones involving groups of riders. Trying to keep up, getting distracted, overtaking other bikes… they’re all a recipe for hospital food. And the bigger the group, the dodgier it gets.
When training, the police are made to do a commentary of their rides for good reason – it forces them to think harder about what they’re seeing and what plans they’re making. Talking into your lid sounds mad, but it can dramatically improve your riding. Practice it for five minutes every ride.
It’s legal, it’s a big advantage of riding a bike, and it’s safe if you do it carefully. The main thing is to assume no car driver knows you’re there, and they will behave accordingly (that’s not a bad premise for all situations on a bike).
Lots of accidents happen here because drivers are often overloaded with information and make bad decisions. Your mission is to help them make good ones. For a start, ride at a speed they expect (humans are good at judging distance, but dreadful at judging speed).