Motorcycle Roadcraft

Over on the Ride It Right Facebook page, in the middle of August, we reported on the new editions of Roadcraft and Motorcycle Roadcraft from “the Police Foundation”.

If you have never heard of “Motorcycle Roadcraft” here is the official blurb about it: “Motorcycle Roadcraft is the definitive guide to better, safer riding. Incorporating current evidence-based practice, it is recognised as the leading manual in police rider training. Endorsed by the emergency services and civilian driving organisations, Motorcycle Roadcraft is suitable for all emergency service riders and members of the public wishing to take their riding skills to a higher level.”

“Find out how your confidence and state of mind can increase or reduce your safety, and how to manage these influences.”

“One in three drivers involved in a daylight collision with a motorcyclist fail to look properly and don’t see the rider before the crash. ”

“Learn about the core riding competencies and how to develop self-assessment skills to continuously improve your riding abilities.”

Something we said at the time on Facebook was, “However it is not necessary to progress to ride safe and progressing doesnt mean riding faster.”

We had one comment on the page, “This kind of book ought to be free, funded by speedtrap and insurer revenu …”

To which we replied, “Indeed but then should we include advanced rider training itself? The Police Bikesafe initiative, which gives about an hours rider assesment, in Northern Ireland, it is free and and has been able to do this because of help from an insurer.”

Survival Skills

Over at Survival Skills – Kevin Williams – has just given their first comments to the Roadcraft and Motorcycle Roadcraft handbook after its official launch.

“We’re not sure what use emergency response riding will be to the average rider, but if the slow riding section is good, that could be useful for quite a few. So far we’ve only viewed the sample chapter which happens to cover cornering, but even in that particular short section there are some major improvements. We’ve never liked the advice (repeated in the new edition) to:

“Match your speed to the speed at which the limit point moves away from you, providing you can stop within the distance that you can see to be clear on your own side of the road… even when the bend is not constant, you can still match your speed to the apparent movement of the limit point, because this will vary with the curvature of the bend.”

Given that a motorcycle mid-lean is most stable at constant speed or when gently accelerating, the suggestion that we should close the throttle and reduce speed mid-corner has always seemed to us to be contradictory, and that a better solution is to maintain speed and change lean angle to deal with anything but major changes in the limit point.

However, the technique now comes with better warnings about the pitfalls as well as advice not to limit [sic] your observations to the limit point alone………..”

Kevin has also commented on the new warning in roadcraft about, the double apex curve/bend/turn, where roadcraft says, “Some bends have been deliberately engineered with a tightening curve or ‘double apex’. Misjudgement of the double apex bend has proved a cause of serious crashes on left-hand bends, particularly for motorcyclists. In this type of bend, the curve that the rider initially sees on the approach to the bend continues to tighten so the final curve is much sharper. If you plan for the whole bend on the basis of the curve that you see initially, you run the risk of ending up in the path of oncoming traffic.”

Kevin commented, “In other words (and as we explain it), never forget that the limit point is only a snapshot of the bend up to the furthest point that you can see – and that beyond that point the road can go just about anywhere. Corners can tighten, open up, even reverse direction out of sight, the road can rise up a hill or drop down a slope, the camber can change.

And that means that our entry speed MUST build in some margin to allow us to deal with the unexpected – a speed that matches the limit point but has no margin for error is a dangerously high speed.”

We have maybe all faced with that bend, you know the one, where you just make it round as the bend tightens up and you have had more than one go to get round – you just rode round that corner as if it was a thrupenny bit!

A Remedy For Accidents At Bends

We have an article tucked away about bends which was written in 1990, “A remedy for accidents at bends – by Douglas Stewart and Christopher J. Cludworth Department of Engineering, Aberdeen University”. The article looks at bends from an engineering point of view and sets out three acute, accident-prone bends that were converted from transitional to circular alignment.

As Kevin pointed out, “Some bends have been deliberately engineered with a tightening curve or ‘double apex’” the bends article says that:

“Until about 60 years ago bends normally had constant curvature, i.e. they were circular arcs. Today, however, a bend usually comprises two types of curve, a transition curve at entrv, followed by a circular curve, then another transition at exit. Wholly transitional curves, with no circular element, are also common. The original purpose of transition curves is rather obscure. They were recommended for road design as long ago as 1908, by the First International Road Congress, ‘ to reduce the abruptness of change from a straight line to a curve’. Whether their intention was to improve comfort, safety or appearance is not clear, but these benefits have all been claimed for transition curves. The main impetus for the use of transition curves on roads came, however, from railway engineering.”

“Incredibly, the effect of transition curves on safety seems neither to have been questioned nor examined.”

The article goes on to say: “Investigation of ‘safe’ and ‘hazardous’ bends had indicated that the main difference between them was not whether their curvature was large or small, but whether it was constant or variable. This led to the hypothesis that drivers have more difficulty in perceiving the curvature of a transitional bend, because it can deceive them into maintaining an excessive speed.”

Back in 1990 the conclusion in this article was that, “If road safety is to be radically improved, it seems necessary to develop such ideas; to consider accident prevention more as management of risk throughout a road system than as treatment of individual hazards. Skilled treatment of hazardous bends could be an effective tool to that end.”

However we digress, whatever the type of bend, we do still need the skills and be aware of bends which are, “deliberately engineered with a tightening curve or ‘double apex’” compared to those that are not.”


Survival Skills goes on to mention about the inclusion in roadcraft of, the importance of the geometry of a motorcycle’s design and the impact on how the machine remains upright in a straight line and how it steers.” which Kevin says is a big shock and also the mention of “Counter-steering”, “At speeds above walking pace, steering input to the left will make the bike lean to the right. This is known as counter-steering. Everyone counter-steers but the steering input required is minimal and often unnoticed”

Opening up a debate on counter-steering, Survival skills says, “Now perhaps the DSA (Driving Standards Agency in GB – in Northern Ireland we have the Driver & Vehicle and Testing Agency (DVTA)) will finally allow CBT (Complusory Basic Training) instructors to teach riders to steer right from the start of riding training!

This debate on counter-steering has been “raging” for as long as we can remember. Almost a decade ago Ride It Right’s, Trevor Baird, can recall attending a seminar about this issue which was attended by trainers, DSA, riders groups, and other government agencies, the outcome then was not to introduce counter-steering into CBT or learner training.

The CBT in Northern Ireland does include (havent had a look at the CBT in GB) the requirement for a rider to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of different types of bends – how to identify the sharpness of a bend – and to demonstrate the proper approach to bends – exit from bends to include correct observation – position – speed and correct use of steering – throttle – gears and brake.

Also included in the CBT is – you are able to effectivly evaluate your own skills, atitudes and behaviours in relation to driving, maybe something we should all remember and something that should be considered by other vehicle drivers as well, no matter when we passed our tests!

Planned changes to driver and rider training and testing in Northern Ireland, legislation will have to be made by the Northern Ireland Assembly expected in 2014, should include the new ‘Learning to Drive’ course, which means learners must produce a student logbook, signed by their Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), before they sit their first practical test.

We hope like the motorcycle CBT, at the very least, new drivers will have self evaluation of skills, atitudes and behaviours in relation to driving included!

Survival Skills will be doing a full review of Motorcycle Roadcraft in the next couple of weeks.

You can download this particular chapter – Chapter 7 – Cornering, balance and avoiding skids as a PDF file as a sampler to the book – Click Here

Read the Surival Skills article in full on their Facebook page – Click Here

Links Information

Motorcycle Road Craft – Click Here
A remedy for accidents at bends (1990) – 2.5mb – pdf – Click Here
Survival Skills –
Survival Skills on Facebook –
MotoOnline – Survival Skills Publications –
Ride It Right –

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