Motorcycle Roadcraft illustrations

Chapter 7. Cornering, balance and avoiding skids

How does a skid happen?

A machine skids when one or both tyres lose normal grip on the road surface. This happens when the grip of tyres on the road becomes less than the force or forces acting on the machine.

These forces act on a machine whenever you operate the controls – the brakes, the throttle, the clutch or the handlebars. If you brake or accelerate while cornering, two forces are combined. As we saw in Chapter 4, there is only limited tyre grip available and if these forces become too powerful they break the grip of the tyres on the road. Never ride to the limit of the tyre grip available – always leave a safety margin to allow for the unforeseen.

Chapter 9. Positioning

Following position

In a stream of traffic, always keep a safe distance behind the vehicle in front. Follow the two-second rule. Leave a gap of at least two seconds between you and the vehicle in front, depending on conditions.

The rider is keeping a good safe position and can see all the hazards. The rider could see even more by moving slightly to the nearside or offside

The rider is too close to the vehicle in front and cannot see the hazards in the shaded area.

Chapter 12. Emergency Response

Overtaking slow-moving vehicles across junctions

When moving past slow-moving or stationary vehicles, be aware of the additional hazards presented by road junctions and adjust your speed accordingly.

Nearside junctions

This manoeuvre is particularly hazardous for a rider as you present a smaller approaching profile and will be masked by other traffic until the last moment when the red vehicle emerges. Consider an extended offside position to increase the distance between you and the emerging vehicle. Consider a long horn note or change of two-tone horn note.

Emergency Response: Approaching Roundabouts

A roundabout is a one-way system for which there is no exemption. Approach roundabouts in the same manner as you would red traffic lights. Choose a low approach and entry speed so as not to cause drivers on the roundabout to over-react or brake hard. If there are vehicles occupying all the approach lanes to the roundabout, use the same procedures as for a traffic light junction. Consider the following options to minimise the risk of drivers ahead entering the roundabout into the path of other vehicles.


  • Turn off all the emergency equipment and hold back.
  • Straddle the lane markings to cause a ‘parting of the waves’.
  • Subject to view and safety, use the opposing carriageway. Bear in mind that drivers exiting the roundabout may have a late view of your bike.

A lower approach speed gives other motorists more time to help your progress. Drivers exiting the roundabout may have a late view of your approach.