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First ride to the UK, hints

Since most of you are used to  riding in the UK, I'd like to get some hints on how to ride safely. I'm on my way to the TT and will hopefully be in the UK tomorrow. I have only been driving cars in Scotland and Australia in recent years. So I think I'll manage riding on the proper side of the road.


Hi Mikael,   If you are riding an old bike and want to avoid horrid motorways you could go up the A1 and cross over up north.  The M11 is also a usefull route. The M40 is the way I normally go.If going on the M6  the toll section is worth doing to avoid bad traffic and road works. Fuel is expensive on motorways but can often be found cheap a mile or two off route.You need 2 Mirrors. I live in the very south east edge of London near the M25  ,if you need help ,ring me  07889685377, I can collect a bust bike if not too far away.BOB.


Hi Mikael,

As Bob has said two mirrors is a must and I would add

1/ Ride with a dipped head light

2/ Be assertive and take a predominant position on the road

3/ Be careful in commuting times up to 9am and from 5pm as a lote of commuters drive aggressively going to work and going home. 

I visit France a lot and find car drivers on the continent are much more bike friendly and my best recommendation for riding in the UK is defensive riding.

Have a good trip, Steve


Hi Mikael,  As you now don't count as a foreigner I can say  , watch out when overtaking those bloody furriners driving left hand drive HGV's!  They are lethal.


All British car and van drivers are called Lewis Hamilton, and as such use the whole bend that can be used and cross the apex often, left hand bend  - stick to the left side of the lane, right hand bend - stick to the left side of the lane on the Apex's. Observe, and you see what I mean about oncoming traffic through bends. 

As above,and as you may know, some of the back roads are scenic, but can easily catch you out. if you see the 'Biker beware' signs the route is usually good, but take it easy until you know that road. If you are in remote areas on your own, ride with your phone in your riding gear, not in a pannier or tank bag, If you part company with the bike, at least you may have a chance of raising help if you can't get back to the bike.  


Other road users will be a danger all the time, you will be the most dangerous when you set off each day so make sure you remind yourself to drive on the left side every morning and every time you stop  and prepare to start off again. Car and bike are different, in a car the gear change is on the wrong side and you sit on the wrong side to remind you, not so on a bike.


On the Island you can find the local drivers very considerate  ,however because most of the time the roads are empty they are used to driving very fast and may forget the island is full of bonkers bikers. There are still some fantastic quiet roads even on TT week.


", left hand bend  - stick to the left side of the lane, right hand bend - stick to the right side of the lane on the Apex's. Observe, and you see what I mean about oncoming traffic through bends. "

That's absolutely the worst advice I've ever heard.

Have a look here to see how it is done.

You can download a pdf of a potted section from the Police Roadcraft manual here.

I highly recommend a proper read and digest of that, and I even further recommend going on one of the Police run riding courses.. Most Counties do them in some form.

If you don't think you need to go on one....Then you do!!


Thanks,  you are of course correct, it is a typo - survived 33 years in the UK and abroad with not one off, so must being doing something right. 


The Marine Pub on Peel seafront for a proper mans meal at reasonable prices  and a glass of Ockells bitter. 


I did a car course in the late 80's with Hants Constabulary based on Roadcraft, and the system as mentioned in the first paragraph of the hugger guide, it is not infallible. The later comments in the same guide are exactly that I was trying to refer to, if you are on the crown and need to tighten, or as it fails to mention, sit the bike up, it says you have got it wrong, so why put yourself in that position.

The peeling appearance point was once how it was described to me, and in effect is the limit point, what it also fails to mention is the allowance to sit the bike up and stop, that stopping distance you think is adequate on approach to the limit point with bike upright suggests it can be maintained through the bend, but bike over at 45 degrees at the same speed as the approach and you can see even with the technique it can all go wrong as the limit point will need to be compensated for the angle of lean as well as the speed to enable you to stop in your own lane. If you have judged that limit point on approach to be the minimum distance your bike can stop when upright for the speed, guess what, you are going to take the bend to fast - you have no margin for the lean, you will easily get around the bend, but would not be able to stop safely if you need to do so - you will pass your limit point. Thankfully most bikes these days will stop rapidly, so most riders will over estimate the distance to the limit point. 

The speed at which you most probably take a known and well ridden bend at may well be way too fast, think about it next time you go around it. The safe speed may be drastically lower than you would imagine.  

Roadcraft is about the rider / driver making progress safely, it is not a guide to avoid others poor standards, this is when all that is taught / practiced can come undone. Roadcraft is good, but the real gain from it is practice. I stay out on the crown to get the best vis on approach like most are taught these days, but stay well away from the crown on the apex. 

As a user of the roads down south with some of the worst driving standards in the country and most probably parts of Europe, using daily the A272, and the notorious Morestead Road which even the local motorcyclists seem to avoid these days, I see enough cars / bikes / vans cut nearly every corner on these roads, I prefer to avoid the crown in the apex, left or right bends, saves any last minute decisions and the corner cutters. 

Hopefully I'll have another 33 years of upright trouble free riding, most probably a solo passenger on a bike that rides or fly's itself by then. 




Hi Mikael

Sorry to see this thread has got hijacked into I am a better rider than you discussion, have a good vist to the UK and if you need any help email me



I doubt Mikael needs any general riding advice if he is used to Austrailian drivers antics.  It is a fact that  some  countries do  come up with surprises. In some parts of France rural locals do pull straight out of side turnings as if they have some ancient priority. In Italy it is essential to do  a mad last second blind bend overtake just before you park .In parts of Germany you can expect to be overtaken by cars doing 150mph  or more.A bit much if you are broken down fixing something.  In Spain  donkey riders who are used to leaping off before stopping and leaving the Donkey to park itself try the same trick with cars, forgetting that a car is not as clever as a donkey.I have driven in about 20 countries and think that I have seen it all, ------But there is always something new!!.


Mikael, you will be fine the statistics suggest that, take it easy for the first hour or so and observe what goes on. 

I would say I am no better rider than anyone else. Thankfully in this job I would say that Norton owners out there are surprisingly crash free, there have been crashes, yes, but these are normally either when the bike is parked up or due to another problem. I can only remember one due to rider error, all others due to third party and at low speed.  To only know of two Norton's written off in two years say something about all Norton riders. 


I do hope Mikael  posts some of his TT experience, I only do the MGP/classic TT as I have little wish to mix it on the roads with the race rep loonies. Last year we were riding well fast enough when overtaken by one (knee on road) , a couple of bends later we find him wedged between a crashed van and flint wall(ouch!) on the wrong side of the road.  We were obviously much faster riders than him as we got to our destination first!.


What bike will you be on,  Mikael?

Whatever it is... watch out for speed cameras. Not usually on motorways unless they are the busiest sections with regular overhead sign gantries and variable speed limits. But some limits feel ridiculous  especially when roads are empty.  Like A40 out of London. Don't be the quickest vehicle on the road unless you know it well! Fixed cameras are in yellow boxes, but some face forwards. They can't read motorbike numbers! There are average speed cameras in some places. Small yellow things in groups on overhanging pantries usually. They should be properly signed. Frequently used on motorway road works.

But hope you enjoy it! 

Robert; our french cousins not only get on their steeds on the wrong side they actually do have a priority to the right system, as do the Netherlands. Be careful especially at roundabouts where being on the island is not the priority...


 They can be signed or road marked but its a habit to them especially in the country,  which there is an awful lot of.



Thanks for your answers, seems most british motorists are nice. Luckily not met any idiots yet. 

So far everything ok. As my only running Norton at present is the 40M, I have to admit that I ride a small Ninja. Though the Manx raced in the -62 junior I don’t think the police like if I ride it around the island. Made a lap on the course today. Visibility at the Bungalow was about 30 meters. 30 Mph was really scary over the mountain.


Next time you arrive at the bungalow take the minor road on the left ( opposite the bungalow) Very twisty and so beautifull.


Good news have an honorable mention in this month's Old Bike Mart. Seek out a copy and revel in the publicity.

If you plan to ride a bike around the TT course my advice would be ............

Do not ride alone......go in the company of someone who knows the routes well thus avoiding any issues with tight corners, blinds spots, dodgy parts of the circuit and other riders using the wrong side of the roads.


I'm now back to right-hand traffic. Riding on the Isle of Man was very pleasant. I've never before experienced so careful and friendly drivers and riders. Maybe because most days the roads was wet. Sadly very little practice for the racers, and most races shortened.

On Nortons. It must have been a very disappointing TT for the Norton race team. Saw very little of them. My guess is that the very few practice days wasn't enough to sort out suspension on the lightweight. Anyway, it's a brand new bike, so hopefully we'll see more of them in the future. Remember that it took some years to get the SG reliable and competitive. I only saw two older Nortons, one Commander parked at the Bungalow and a Dominator going over the mountain in heavy fog without working lights. Probably Lucas again.


The weather was bad last year at the classic TT, it made a huge difference to the feel of things, I still enjoyed myself though ,even with horizontal rain and 40mph wind gusts blowing me sideways on my bike at Jurby track..  Put it on the bucket list ,time is running out!!.


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