Page 1

Everything you need to get started on two wheels


20 b e s lear t bikener s

master your moves

celeb interview

Aimee fuller

about getting on two wheels

ultimate skills for safe riding

page 10

page 45


THE cbt how to pass your test page 14

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bike gear

money matters

Safety equipment page 28 essentials

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firstbike magazine




i, I’m Danny Kent. I’ve always loved bikes and started racing when I was six. I now ride in the Moto3 Championship for the Red Bull Husqvarna Factory Racing team. But, even with all my experience on two wheels, when it came to getting on the road, I still had to take my CBT like everyone else. Not only does it allow you to ride on the road legally, but it also gives you loads of essential skills and knowledge so you can stay safe too – even I learnt a thing or two, as riding on the road is very different from riding on the track and it’s important that you have the right skills. But whether you’re new to motorcycling, or even a pro racer like me, learning to ride on the road along with buying and maintaining a bike can

be a daunting prospect, so where can you turn for advice? FirstBike, that’s where! Inside this magazine you’ll find everything you need to ride through the process unscathed. From taking your CBT, to passing the full test, choosing and buying the right bike and making sure you get kitted out with all the right gear to keep you looking cool, but more importantly, safe. There’s even bundles of top tips on topics such as insurance, keeping your bike secure and how you can further develop your riding skills even after your test is a distant memory. So no matter what your reason for getting on two wheels, be it as a cheap way to get to work or as an exhilarating pastime, FirstBike has everything you need to get you on the right track. Happy reading and safe riding!

Danny Kent Moto2 World Championship motorcycle racer




CONTENTS Strap yourself in, hold on tight and just enjoy the ride...

FREE a pp WOR £25TH pag ! e 35



Team GB snowboarder talks boarding, backflips and biking!

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Turn to page 39 where Carole Nash and SportsBikeShop are offering the chance to win £200 worth of vouchers to get you kitted out in the right clothing to keep you safe and stylish on the roads.


6-9 why bike?



get started

The lowdown on the benefits and pitfalls of biking, to prove why life’s better on two wheels.

From CBT to full test – what to expect and how to pass first time.

22-24 buying

28-34 safety kit

Scooter or bike? Getting it right is crucial. Our advice will help you make the right choice and bag the best deal.

Don’t skimp on safety; check out our full run down of all the essential kit you need to stay fully protected.

36-38 Bike care

40-44 secure & insure

Get the most out of bike ownership with our basic maintenance tips and crucial weekly checks.

How to keep your bike safe and beat the thieves, plus how to make sure you’re covered at the right price.



Top riding tips to keep you safe in the saddle and avoid becoming a road traffic statistic.

Training shouldn’t stop after your test. Here’s how to keep your skills sharp.

Publisher: James Evans Editor: Dan Sherwood Art director: Dan Hilliard Editorial assistant: Vicky Kitchen Commercial director: Richard Storrs 08451 308853 The contents of this magazine are copyright © First Car Ltd and may not be reproduced or transmitted, in any form in whole or in part, without written consent from the editor. Neither FirstCar Ltd nor its staff can be held responsible for the accuracy of the information herein or for any consequence arising from it.


firstbike magazine

On yer bike!

Whether you’ve always fancied yourself as a biker, or if you simply want a cheap and fun way to get from A to B, there are lots of reasons why a life on two wheels could be right for you…


ikes are great. Not only do they offer an unrivalled sense of freedom and excitement every time you swing your leg over the saddle, but they’re also one of the most economical forms of powered transport too. Research has shown that the cost of biking is around half that of driving, and that’s before the price of fuel is taken into account. But a bulging wallet isn’t the only reason to get on two wheels. Bikes are also easier to park than a car, you’re much less likely to get stuck in traffic, and they look pretty damn cool too. But it’s not all good news. Bikes fall short in rubbish weather, when you’ll need specialist clothing if you’re to stay warm and dry. You’re also limited on storage capacity, and you can carry only one passenger at a time – if you have the correct licence. But the real drawback is the increased vulnerability. Experience, training, and the right protective clothing can cut the chances of being injured, but the risk is very real as, according to government statistics, motorcyclists are roughly 35 times more likely to be killed in a road traffic accident than car occupants. Scary stuff, but by taking heed to the advice within these pages, you can greatly increase your chances of an accidentfree experience on two wheels and be able to enjoy biking as the exhilarating pastime that it is.


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firstbike magazine

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WHEELS TO WORK The Wheels to work scheme offers the loan of a moped for people needing transport for work. Included are tax, insurance, breakdown cover, maintenance, CBT training if


necessary and all the clothing you’ll need. Conditions apply and you must pay a contribution of as little as £15 per week. Google ‘wheels to work’ for a scheme near you.

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The aims of the BMF are to pursue, promote and protect the rights of motorcyclists

british motorcyclists federation

“Riding with you since 1960” There’s a lot more to being a motorcyclist than riding a bike!...

...A whole lot more, whether you are a first time rider, experienced rider or simply a motorcycle fan, the BMF are here defending your rights & interests.

RIDERS RIGHTS Safeguarding motorcyclists rights!

The BMF is one of the largest riders’ groups in the world. Our aim is to protect ordinary bikers from unnecessary interference from European, National and Local Government. We are a not-for-profit organisation run locally and nationally, by elected, unpaid volunteers.

CAMPAIGNS Getting your views heard!


We campaign on issues that directly affect riders’ safety, liberty and security.

Whatever Motorcycle you ride, we speak for all bikers at the highest levels in this country and abroad. To make this possible we need your support. For information call 0116 279 5112 or email

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firstbike magazine

ee m i A l l u F



owbo n s c i p ym m GB Ol

r oarde

ee ler


celebrity interview

Fresh from the Sochi winter Olympics, FirstBike hooks up with one of Team GB’s hottest young talents, Slopestyle snowboarder Amiee Fuller...


he 2014 Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia was the first winter games to include the adrenaline-fuelled sport of Slopestyle. Unlike many sports that involve a race to the finish line, Slopestyle is more about style and technicality. Riders complete a course of boxes and metal rails, on which to slide and grind, and a series of massive jumps that see contestants putting in the kind of aerial acrobatics that would have the Red Arrows jealous. The competition was a huge hit and one of the stars was 22-year old Aimee Fuller. As one of the Nice bike! UK’s top riders and the first woman to Aimee is riding a KTM land a double backflip in competition – 125 Duke. It may be far from in March 2013 at the European Winter the cheapest, but the £3995 X-Games – Aimee was a hot tip for a KTM has got to be one of the gong. However, on the day, she decided coolest machines around. It also to ‘go big or go home’. It was close and, makes for a great first bike as if she’d nailed the run with her usual its awesome looks belie a cool style and flawless execution, her learner-friendly 125cc incredible tricks would’ve arguably put her motor. at the top of the podium. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, and she was knocked out of the contest in the semi-finals. Not one to let a setback dampen her spirits, Aimee has already thrown herself back into training for her next major competition, but has also added a new challenge to her list – that of getting her licence on two wheels. FirstBike caught up with Aimee, to get an insight into what it takes to be a pro snowboarder and how a life riding on the slopes has helped her when it comes to riding on the roads too. ‘It’s good to be back home to just chill and spend some time with my family and friends. It’s not often I get time off away from the slopes, but I absolutely love boarding, so I wouldn’t have it any other way.’ Kitted out in her Red Bull snapback baseball cap with her trademark wild blonde locks spilling out from underneath, she looks every inch the picture of an extreme sports exponent… from the neck up at least, as today she’s also clad from top-to-toe in protective leather riding gear and, with an awesome KTM 125 Duke between her thighs, she’s also pulling off the biker chick look in style too.


celebrity interview

It’s just not worth the risk to ride without the right kit.” ‘I’ve recently passed my CBT and am planning on taking my full test as soon as possible,’ she says. ‘I’d love a KTM Duke 390 when I pass. It’s light, great on and off road and would be perfect to cruise around on away from the slopes.’ Riding a motorcycle is nothing new to Aimee, as from a young age she used to race motocross bikes, which goes some way to explaining her love of speed and fearless approach to getting airborne. ‘I’d go to these meets and it would be me, blonde pony tail out the back of my helmet, and 30 other guys lining up at the start!’ she laughs. But even for a girl used to taking risks, whether that be performing a backflip 30 feet up in the air, or slicing her way through a field of mad mud-plugging motocrossers, when it comes to staying safe on the roads, Aimee doesn’t take things lightly. ‘The jumps I do in Slopestyle can be dangerous, but so can riding a bike on the streets, so I make sure I’m prepared, in my skill level and by wearing the right protective kit.’ On the slopes that means a helmet and back protector, but for biking she’s even more diligent. ‘I always wear proper motorcycle boots, gloves, trousers and jacket plus a good quality helmet when I ride,’ she explains. ‘Having a stack on the slopes can be painful and I’ve had my fair share of broken bones, but


firstbike magazine

crashing a bike on the roads can be far worse. It’s just not worth the risk to ride without the right kit.’ Aimee passed her CBT at the tail end of 2013 and will soon be taking her full test. ‘The CBT was pretty mellow,’ she explains. ‘I already knew how to control the bike from my years riding motocross, but learning how to ride safely on the roads was a really important lesson to learn.’ She’s now just got to complete her theory test and take on both modules of the full test, so is she feeling nervous at all? ‘I think it’s really important to stay relaxed. I get nervous when I’m about to set off on a run on the slope, but I’ve learned to relax and turn it into excitement and positive energy, and I hope I can do the same on my test. It’s just a case of not stressing and taking your time with it. The more time you spend on the bike, the safer you will be and feel on the road. Although I’ll still be nervous on the day for sure! The night before a competition, I always sleep in my contest bib and wear my lucky socks! So maybe before my test I’ll do the same, except swap my contest bib for my helmet or something, Ha Ha!’

Big Thanks! Big thanks to Wheels Motorcycles, Peterborough for the kit; they sell new and used bikes too. Check them out via or 01733 358 555.

first bike magazine BROUGHT TO YOU BY FIRSTCAR

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WIN £200 worth of SBS vouchers FirstBike has teamed up with Carole Nash to bring you £200 of online vouchers to use at SportsBikeShop – one of the UK’s biggest online retailers of motorcycle helmets and clothing.

to enter To be in with a chance of scooping the vouchers, simply call Carole Nash for a free, no-obligation quote before 1 June 2015, and quote FSBS. Call today on 0800 458 2603

Terms and conditions: To be entered into the free prize draw for £200 of SportsBikeShop vouchers, simply get a bike insurance quote from Carole Nash between 5 May 2014 and 1 June 2015, and quote ‘FSBS’. The winner’s name will be displayed on the Facebook page on insidebikes. The winner will be notified individually by either telephone/email on 20 July 2015. If the winner cannot be contacted within 10 working days by telephone or email, a new winner will be picked. The prize is £200 worth of SportsBikeShop vouchers supplied on behalf of Carole Nash by SportsBikeShop. No cash alternatives are available. The prize draw is open to UK residents only. Employees of Carole Nash are not entitled to participate in this free prize draw. This prize is non-transferable, for sale, re-sale or redeemable for cash. Carole Nash reserves the right to withdraw, change or substitute the prize on offer at any time. The promotion is made by Carole Nash Insurance Consultants Ltd, Trafalgar House, 110 Manchester Road, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 1NU, Great Britain. Nothing in these terms and conditions affects your statutory rights. Carole Nash Insurance Consultants Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, firm reference number 307243. Carole Nash is a trading style of Carole Nash Insurance Consultants Ltd, registered in England and Wales No 2600841. No purchase necessary. For alternative routes of entry please call 0161 927 2447 or email

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firstbike magazine


getting sta

Compulsory Basic Training does exactly what it says on the tin and is the bare minimum you need to get on the road to stay legal and safe

BIG thanks to:


ompulsory Basic Training, or CBT, was introduced in 1990 to help reduce the high accident rate among inexperienced motorcyclists. It’s now required training for all bikers before they’re allowed to ride on UK roads. The course is open to anyone, with qualified trainers taking you through every aspect of riding; it’s much more than just a basic legal requirement; it ensures you have the skills and knowledge to stay safe in the saddle.

uc h ? how m e CBT varies

rds t for th The cos nd £100 upwa ere u h ro w a y b m o d fr e affecte lace, and b n a c p and eir is taking training a rider brings th r e ing in a tr t wheth s e. Mo own bik ffer the loan of o centres nd helmets bikes a o. to




The first thing to do is get a suitable trainer. Find a member of the Motorcycle Industry Training Association (MCITA), as they abide by standards covering safety and quality of service. They’ll also have access to a site approved by the DVSA for off-road training.

getting started



Before you can even think about taking any form of motorcycle training, you need to ensure you have a provisional licence with ‘Category A’ provisional motorcycle entitlement. You’re able to apply for this online at, where there’s also further information on how to apply. However, if you passed your car test after 1 February 2001, you will automatically have ‘Category A’ entitlement, which means you’re already eligible to undertake the CBT.

right gear On the day, wear clothes suitable for riding – don’t turn up in shorts and a T-shirt, even if it’s hot. Also, avoid wearing trainers or soft shoes. A decent jacket, boots, gloves and jeans are the minimum, along with a helmet,

which is in good condition and meets BSI 6658 and ECE 22-05 standards (there should be a sticker indicating this) although many training schools can hire you helmets, gloves and a highvis bib.

vision Before the CBT course can start you’ll be given an eyesight test. You must be able to read a number plate at a distance of 20.5 metres. You’re allowed to wear glasses or

contact lenses if you normally wear them, but if you fail the eyesight test the course will not continue.


getting started

firstbike magazine

what’s involved THE course


There are five key sections. There’s no time limit; 6-8 hours is normal, but it can be spread over two days. A classroom-based introduction spells out the legal aspects of riding (see, checks you have a licence and roadworthy bike with tax, insurance and MOT (if applicable) plus L-plates front and rear. Most centres will rent you a bike with insurance. After the briefing, the practical onsite training begins where you’ll learn: ■ Basic controls & checks ■ Starting/stopping the engine ■ Using the stand ■ Wheeling the bike ■ Using the brakes

get riding


You’ll then move onto an off-road area to start riding. Here you’ll learn:

■ Using the clutch & gears ■ Riding in a straight line, circles and figures of eight ■ Slow, controlled riding ■ Emergency stops and how to deal with skids ■ Dealing with turns and junctions A classroom-based briefing follows, on the Highway Code, staying visible, road signs and riding defensively.

on the road

3 You’ll next ride on-road for at least two hours on various roads that take in traffic lights, junctions and roundabouts. When your instructor feels you’re safe to ride solo, you’ll be issued with the DL196 (CBT) Certificate. This is valid for two years and entitles you to ride on the road with L-plates but not carry a pillion or ride on motorways. You’ll need to re-take the CBT if you don’t pass both the theory and practical tests before the CBT Certificate expires.

l o ok

& see

er es prop T teach t just use B C e h T o tion – n d observa rs, but the blin r ro ir y you b of m d re e ver’ ot cov spots n ith the ‘Life Sa ur o y –w r e rs v ro o ir m is check making h T . k c che r before shoulde euvre could o n a m a ur life. save yo


Learning to ride or drive? Can you get from start to finish?


Seems impossible!?


This maze is impossible but passing your test, and getting where you want to go, shouldn’t be! Prepare to pass your theory or practical test with the only official DVSA publications. Brought to you by the people who actually set the tests.

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firstbike magazine

The next step CBT gets you on two wheels, but to really experience biking, and be a safer rider, you need to get your full licence.

direct access You need to be at least 24 years old to take this


he route to getting your full motorcycle licence can be a confusing one. With so much unclear information on the subject, many people can be unsure of the exact process. So, to help

what will it cost me? The cost of CBT and any further training is dependent on the trainer or approved training body you use. Budget £120-£130 for your CBT and a similar fee per day for any further training you require to pass your Module One and Module Two sections of your full licence test. extra costs: ■ Theory Test - £31.00 ■ Module One - £15.50 ■ Module Two - £75.00 weekdays or £88.50 at weekends


you negotiate the minefield that is getting your motorcycle licence, check out our routes to riding chart on the right, to see what tests you need to take and what you can ride when you’ve passed them.

staying safe Completing the full test is more than just getting the green light to ride a more powerful bike; the associated training also makes you a more skilled and safer rider. So even if you don’t want to straddle a 1000cc nd a superbike and want to stay riding a s t s te , 50cc scooter, taking the full test is For all s’ training y a well worth it if you plan a two d n to pay pla all-in. life in the saddle. 0 £50



beyond CBT


All new riders must complete CBT; it’s valid for two years

Age: 16

Age: 17+

You can now ride any 50cc moped restricted to 28mph and fitted with L-plates. You can’t carry passengers, and you’re also not allowed on motorways

You can now ride any machine up to 125cc as long as it is fitted with L-plates. No passengers are allowed and you’re also not allowed to ride on motorways

theory test You must hold a valid motorcycle theory test certificate before you take your practical tests

lys onk e tamins 30 o sit y t or the

PRACTICAL TEST 2-part test Module 1 - off road Module 2 - on road

c o bt vanly f l yeor i2d ar s

Age 16

Age 17-18

Age 19

AM - moped licence You can now ride a 50cc moped restricted to 28mph. No need for L-plates, no passengers allowed, you can’t use the motorway.

A1 licence You can now ride a 125cc machine. There’s no need to have L-plates fitted, no passengers allowed. You can now use the motorway.

A2 licence You can now ride any bike up to 35kW (46.6 bhp). No L-plates need to be fitted, no passengers allowed. You can now use the motorway.

Your options now. . . ■ Keep riding a moped (limited to 50cc). ■ At 17 years or over, take a motorcycle test so you can graduate to a larger, more powerful machine.

Your options now. . . ■ Keep riding a 125cc motorcycle. ■ At 19 years or over, you can now take your category A2 test and ride a bike of up to 35kW (46.6bhp).

Your options now. . . ■ Keep riding a motorcycle of up to 35kw (46.6bhp). ■ After 2 years, or on reaching 24 years of age, you can take a Category A motorcycle test to ride any machine you like.


firstbike magazine


hether you’ve only passed your CBT and are keen to get your first taste of twowheeled action, or you’re further up the ladder, you’ll still have to make the decision as to what type of bike best suits your needs and desires. And with a wide range of styles and models now available in learner-friendly engine sizes and power outputs, you really are spoiled for choice. With this in mind, the choice comes down to the type of riding you intend on doing and the visual style of bike you prefer. Put in basic terms, there are two main types of motorcycle to choose from: motorbikes and scooters. A scooter is ideal if you intend to use it solely as a transport solution for commuting to work or the odd trip to the shops. Twistand-go throttles make riding a breeze as you don’t have to worry about using a clutch and changing gears. They also offer great splash protection and can have built-in storage to accommodate your helmet when parked. Scooters come in many shapes and sizes from 50cc to 650cc, so you could spend your whole biking life on a scooter, even if you wanted to climb higher up the performance ladder. If you need something for longer distances, or want something more sporting with greater road presence, a motorcycle could be the best choice. Bigger than scooters, and with a wider choice of engine capacities and styles to choose from such as sports, commuters, cruisers, adventurers and off-roaders, motorbikes are also geared, so provide a better experience base if you’re looking at riding bikes long-term.

What to


Piaggio Typhoon £1649 A cool scoot that looks ready for off-roading, but you’ll have to stick to the road, sadly. But it packs much more than just cool looks.



Yamaha Giggle £2399 With a retro flavour it really stands out in the crowd. A high-tech motor and wide tyres make riding a breeze, plus there’s a 33-litre storage bin.

Vespa LX50 2T £2399 No-one does retro better than Vespa. Sturdily built to withstand the abuse that a learner scooter is bound to get, we think it’s superb.

s co o Bike v


top tip

When buying a bike, it must fit your needs. A sports bike may not be best for a busy city centre commute, just like a scooter probably won’t be the ideal ride for longer journeys.

Buying advice


When choosing a bike to meet your needs, don’t forget to factor in your own size and strength compared to the size and weight of the bike. It’s no use opting for a visually attractive but large adventure-style bike, for example, if you can barely swing your leg over the saddle, let alone support its weight. Make sure that any bike you choose, you feel comfortable handling both on and off the saddle.



KTM Duke 125 £3995 With a powerful 15bhp motor, anti-lock brakes and excellent build quality, the Duke packs more than just good looks. It’s road-riding royalty.


There’s a bewildering choice of bikes on the market

Yamaha YBR125 £2499 A no-frills commuter bike designed to be reliable, economical and practical, it’s not exciting to look at, but it’s cheap and easy to ride.

■ Where do you live? ■ What will you use it for? ■ Do you need storage? ■ What distances will you be travelling? ■ Do you want manual or automatic gears?

Aprilia RS50 £2949 Few 50cc mopeds have as much style and performance as the RS50. It looks like a big bike, but is learner-friendly and a great first ride.


Big Thanks to:



top tip

firstbike magazine

Whether you plan to buy new or secondhand, remember to include insurance, servicing and replacement tyre costs when you do your sums, or a bargain bike could end up costing much more than you think.

Do your sums correctly and you could ride away on the bike of your dreams

! r e w o p g n Bu y i W

hether you’re looking at doing a deal on a brand new machine or snapping up a secondhand steed, there’s lots to consider if you’re to make the right choice when buying a bike. Get it wrong and you could be paying through the nose for something that doesn’t fit your needs. Get it right, however, and you could be on the road to motorcycling nirvana. To help you decide, FirstBike lays out the options and pitfalls, so you can nail the best ride first time round.



Buying advice

walk away with a bundle if the salesman is desperate for a sale.

4 buying new Buying new from a dealer means you’ll know your bike hasn’t been abused and it’ll probably come with at least two years’ warranty. But you’ll pay for these benefits, as depreciation is greatest in the first year of ownership.


WHERE TO BUY? ■ Franchised dealer: These have an agreement with a manufacturer to sell their motorcycles. You should be able to get a decent test ride, and top quality service, but you’ll also probably pay the highest price for the privilege. However, there is the option to finance – just look out for the best deals. ■ Independent dealer: Some dealers specialise in certain makes or types of bike, while others have a huge stock of anything and everything. You should still expect good back up including warranties, finance

and the option to partexchange. Bikes are likely to be slightly cheaper than a franchised dealer, as are servicing costs.


TEST RIDE You’ll need to bring both parts of your driving licence and ID if you want to take a test ride. Only major retailers will have demonstrators, but other dealers may have a used model you can test. Try other bikes that fit your criteria too – you might find your first choice isn’t the bike you like best after all.


DOING THE DEAL Haggling to get the price down is part of the process, so make a lower offer. Check you’re negotiating on the On The Road (OTR) price, which includes all those little extra charges that can add up to a lot. Ask about what extras they can give you – luggage, a new helmet, clothing or some security product. You could

PAPERWORK You don’t need an MOT until a motorcycle is over three years old, but you’ll get the V5C registration certificate (log book). Check its details match with the motorcycle you’re getting, especially the registration, make, model and year, VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and engine number. You’ll also get a handbook, warranty registration card and bill of sale.

back up Buying from a dealer means you’re protected by the Sale of Goods Act, which says goods must meet an acceptable standard. If your bike develops a fault the dealer must fix it; if there’s a major problem you can ask for a replacement or refund.

finance deals If you’ve not got the cash for a new bike, finance could be the way to go, spreading the cost of your bike into more manageable portions over a

period of time that suits you. Many manufacturers offer great finance deals on new bikes – some even come with a year’s free insurance

– which could save you a packet! Check out the internet for the latest offers from all the key motorcycle manufacturers.


Buying advice

firstbike magazine

Buy with your head – not your heart – to avoid problems

buying secondhand Trawling the used bike ads is a great way to get more for your money, but buying secondhand also has its drawbacks. Dodgy dealers, criminal cloners and unscrupulous private sellers lurk to separate you from your cash. However, buying used also has its benefits, especially when it comes to bang for your buck; this essential checklist will help you buy with confidence.


Arm yourself with info Learn as much as you can about a bike before viewing it. Magazines and internet forums can give you information about common problems and what to look out for. Finding out the cost of consumables such as tyres and chains, could give you more haggling power if these need replacing. Also, check what the going rate is for that

model and age by comparing it to similar bikes for sale, or against suggested used prices on websites such as


Two’s company Take a mate along to inspect any potential purchase. It’s too easy to fall in love with a bike and see past its problems but, by having another set of eyes, you can get a second opinion that could save you from making a big mistake.


Use your eyes Always view a secondhand bike in good weather in natural light to have the best chance of spotting any problems. Take your time to inspect every area of the bike. Is it clean?

Have any of the panels or controls been damaged, or replaced? If so, it may have been in a crash. Is there any rust or leaking fluids? Are the seat, foot pegs and handle grips worn? Is the tyre tread legal – are there any nails or splits? If so, you could be in for a discount. If anything looks wrong, it probably is. Be prepared to walk away.


Fire her up Before starting, check the engine and exhaust for signs of warmth, which could indicate the seller warmed the bike up before you got there, hiding starting problems. Once started, listen for problems such as grinding, knocking and misfires, especially if they get louder when you rev the motor. Check all the gauges, lights and electrical components work as they should. Make sure there’s no blue exhaust smoke, which indicates burning oil. Check the operation of the brakes and clutch and make sure you can get all the gears. Assess the suspension by pushing down at the front and seeing if the bike quickly settles.

INSURANCE Remember to budget for insurance cover. Third party is the minimum with fully comprehensive the best, but most expensive option. New riders will face potentially high premiums, but this will


drop as your experience and no-claims bonus increases. Sporty bikes will also attract higher premiums, whereas scooters and commuter bikes are usually less. Be sure to declare everything when

applying so you’re covered in the event of a claim. To get the best deal, ring round or check online to find the most competitive deal. Search for bike insurance specialists online to cover all the bases.


firstbike magazine



When you take to the streets, wear the right protective gear, as it might just save your life

iding a bike gives you a sense of freedom that car drivers can only dream about, but it also comes at a cost. Bikers are much more vulnerable when on the road, not just from the elements, where a sudden downpour can leave you cold and uncomfortable, but from the possibility of accidents too, with 30 motorcyclists being killed or seriously injured on UK roads every day. Even a minor low-speed

incident, which a car driver would simply shrug off with a few dents and scratches, can leave a biker in hospital, or even worse. This is why wearing suitable protective clothing every time you get on your bike is so important. Check out FirstBike’s guide to the essential pieces of equipment you need when riding to make sure you’re covered – and also safe.



Never buy a secondhand helmet. The external appearance can disguise damage to the protective material inside the helmet, drastically lowering its level of protection in a crash.


helmet A helmet is your most important piece of safety equipment, so save a decent proportion of your budget to get a good one as it could save your life. Helmets sold in the UK must satisfy either British Standard 6658: 1985 or ECE Regulation 22.05 standards. Look for a label inside the helmet or on the shell to confirm this. Making sure that it fits correctly and won’t move around or come off when the chinstrap is affixed is essential to offer

the maximum protection in a crash. For extra peace of mind visit and check out the Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme (SHARP). This independent body tests helmets, rates their performance and has a detailed guide on getting the right fit. Any helmet listed as having the full five stars would be a good choice. A full face lid, such as the Shark S700-S will give you maximum protection in the event of a crash and also has an integrated sun visor which you can flip down if the conditions are bright. It costs £169.

COLOUR Choose light, bright colours as these help other road users to see you coming.

safety essentials

TAKE CARE When you buy a helmet look after it. Regular cleaning will keep it fresh and the visor clear. If you’re using it only occasionally, store it safely in a helmet bag where it won’t be dropped or knocked. Don’t personalise your helmet with stickers, as the adhesives can weaken the shell, reducing its effectiveness in a crash.

WHAT IT’S MADE OF A helmet is made of two protective components: a thin hard, outer shell typically made from plastic and a thick, soft, inner liner for cushioning. eye cover Wear a visor or goggles with an ECE, CE or BSI approval mark. In daylight a tint of up to 50% is okay; a clear visor must be used after dark.

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HELMET BUYING TIPS FIT Always try a helmet on before you buy, as sizes can vary. It should feel snug around the cheeks (if full-face) and hug your head. If it moves when you move your head, it’s too big.

COMFORT There should be no tight spots or pressure points. Wear the helmet for several minutes in the store before you make a purchase, as you won’t be able to take it back afterwards.

LOW NOISE A noisy helmet can make you tired and damage your hearing. Noise can be influenced by the fit, the number of vents and scoops, your riding position and the style of bike you ride.


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Gloves should have a reinforced palm area to give increased abrasion resistance if you fall. Some also have hard plastic, metal or carbonfibre knuckle guards for added protection.

Your hands are one of the first things to touch the ground if you come off your bike, so they must be protected. Fingers and wrists are fragile, so it doesn’t take much for them to sustain long-term damage. A pair of leather-palmed gloves will help take the sting out of a fall and prevent nasty injuries. Lighter gloves are available for summer riding with thermally insulated options for winter, but all-season options are available that can be worn all year round. Richa’s Hurricane GTX gloves feature highquality leather, Gore-Tex and a hard knuckle mould. A pair retails for £100.

Your hands are vulnerable in a crash and you can easily lose a finger if your hand gets trapped under you, so always wear specialist motorcycling gloves – a strong protective layer is essential.

glove BUYING TIPS Summer gloves can be lightweight but must provide good abrasion resistance. Winter gloves must keep your hands warm and dry so you’re not distracted when riding.

KEEP CONTROL Gloves shouldn’t be so bulky they prevent you moving your hands and fingers. Try them in the showroom to check you can operate the controls properly.

CUFF UP Winter gloves, particularly, should have cuffs that extend over the end of your sleeves, to prevent wind and rain getting up your arms.

STITCHED UP Good quality stitching is important. Make sure your gloves carry stitching across the palms and there’s good layering on the upper glove.

WRIST straps Check for straps, around the wrist. If a pair of gloves can be pulled off easily without undoing a fixing or strap, they’ll probably come off just as easily in a crash.

TOTAL COMFORT Ensure seams don’t chafe against your hand, palm or between the fingers. Any discomfort could affect your concentration levels on a long journey.

more kit GARMIN ZUMO SAT NAV Designed for bikers, with a 4.3in screen, it’s waterproof and you can connect to a headset via Bluetooth. COST: £330


RAM MOUNT AQUA BOX If you’d rather use your safe and dry while you’re smartphone as a sat riding. Additional nav, than fork out for mounting kits are a dedicated unit, the available to secure the Ram Mount Aqua Box waterproof enclosure could be the answer to your handlebars. to keeping your phone COST: £36.72


b o ot s A pair of sturdy over-the-ankle boots will provide support and protection for the ankle area and can prevent serious injuries, so it’s advised not to ride without them. In a crash, feet tend to get crushed sideways, so strong soles are important. A stitched sole is best, and if possible bonded as well. Anything less and it may fall apart under impact or abrasion. The sole should contain ridges to provide good grip, and be at least 4mm thick. The thicker the sole, the more the boot will absorb the vibration of the bike. Boots come in varying levels of warmth and protection and

range from a subtle black work boot to multicoloured race replicas. Whatever style you go for, try them on to make sure they’re comfortable and allow you to operate the bike’s controls with ease. A pair of TCX R-S2 Evo boots in red will look the part and set you back £289.

beware Don’t wear work boots with steel toe-caps. These can protect your feet in certain circumstances but are also capable of cutting through your toes.

Boots should ideally be made from good quality leather (at least 2.5mm thick) and be waterproof too. Some models come with additional armour areas in vulnerable spots such as the outer toes, ankles and shins.

pr i £289ce TSI URBAN RIDERS If you want the protection boots have it all in one. With of a motorcycle boot built-in ankle, toe and heel but with the style protection plus a PU leather of a trainer, these upper and study rubber sole, hi-top ankle they beat normal trainers for safety hands down. COST: £70

safety essentials

boot BUYING TIPS THE PERFECT FIT Make sure the boots you buy fit properly. Too tight and they will make your feet numb – too loose and you will find it difficult to maintain control over the gear and brake levers. FLEXIBILITY Boots will get softer and more comfortable with use, but if a boot is too rigid it may lead to discomfort. Test their flexibility by manipulating them physically in the store, as well as trying them on. SAFE ZIPS Where boots are zipped up, ensure there is a large enough flap under the zip and one over it. This ensures the zip won’t let in water or rub directly on the ankle. SAFE COLOURS Try to make sure the leather is colour-fast, otherwise you will find socks and feet are dyed the colour of your boots in wet weather.

breaking bones 19% of hospital admissions for biking injuries involve broken bones in the lower leg, making it the most likely part of the body to get injured – so proper protective boots are vital.


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jacket Whether you ride a 50cc moped or a 1200cc superbike, riding in your everyday clothes puts you at real risk of serious injury. Finding clothing to shield you from both impact and abrasion – the most common causes of injury – is extremely important, as is keeping you warm and dry if the weather takes a turn for the worse. Traditionally, leather has been the choice of most riders, but advances in textiles means that you now have options such as Cordura and Gore-Tex, which are abrasion-resistant and waterproof. Make sure any jacket you buy has CEapproved armour in the risk areas, such as your elbows, shoulders and back. Finally, make sure it’s comfortable when seated on a bike. The Richa Mugello jacket is a good choice for weatherproofing and protection; it retails for £300.

Jackets can be made of leather or a textile such as Cordura; all should be at least double stitched and have integral CE-approved armour in the most ‘at-risk’ areas, such as elbows and shoulders.

glove BUYING TIPS A GOOD FIT Your jacket should feel comfy and fit well, without being tight. Make sure the arms are long enough and the shoulders let you move within the jacket.

INTEGRATED BODY ARMOUR This is common and should enhance protection at the elbows, back and shoulders. It should also carry a CE approval label.

DOUBLE STITCHING Stitching should be double or triple and should be sealed as well, either with a leather overlap or a plastic coating.

SAFE ZIPS Zips shouldn’t lie directly against the skin, as this will transmit heat from friction if you have a slide and a serious burn could result.


top tip If you want the protection of leather but worry about the reduced level of waterproofing, wear lightweight waterproof overtrousers when it rains. GoreTex items can be bought cheaply from army surplus stores.

TARMAC TERROR A short slide on tarmac – even at 30mph – will shred through clothes and then take skin down to bone in seconds.



leather jackets

trousers Shorts and tracksuit bottoms are real nonos when it comes to riding safely, as they offer zero protection in an accident. Jeans are slightly better, but can still wear through in under a second should the worst happen. A better option is to opt for a pair of jeans that are reinforced with Kevlar. Draggin jeans come in a variety of styles and colours and feature Kevlar

and Dyneema reinforcement. Prices start at around £90 for a pair. The ultimate in protection, however, is a pair of dedicated leather or textile trousers featuring double or triple stitching, plus CE-approved armour in the knees. As with jackets, leather provides the most abrasion resistance, while textiles such as Cordura are waterproof and warmer, so they can be used all year round. The Richa Outlaw trousers below are a good choice for protection; they retail for £150.

Leather should be p at least 1.2mm £15rice thick. If it’s too 0 thick it’ll be uncomfortable and restrict your movement; kangaroo hide is about the toughest. Good leather will be treated to make it as waterproof as possible, but can get cold and uncomfortable when wet.

Just like jackets, trousers can be made of either leather or a textile, with leather being the best for abrasion resistance and textile topping the tree for waterproofing and comfort. Make sure any in-built armour is CE-approved. Make sure your trousers fit well and are comfortable when you’re sitting on the bike, allowing you a full range of motion and letting you operate the bike’s controls easily.

textile jackets A suit made from a highly waterproof material such as Cordura gives protection from the elements, while the thermal linings are often removable to allow for use in the spring or summer – they provide body armour too. These suits tend to be more adjustable, with velcro belts and fitted cuffs forming waterproof seals at the neck and arms.

safety essentials

trouser BUYING TIPS ZIP TIED Some trousers have fasteners at the top, so you can zip them to your jacket to keep you warmer and stop the jacket from riding up and exposing your back in a crash.

ArMOUR The in-built armour in a good pair of trousers may feel strange when standing up, but should realign with the necessary areas once you are seated on the bike.


safety essentials

firstbike magazine

back protector After your head, your back is the most important area to protect when on a bike, yet few jackets come with a proper back protector as standard. Back protectors absorb energy from an impact, helping to prevent damage to the spine and ribs, and internal organs such as the kidneys, liver and spleen, which can be harmed by a

heavy external blow. A back protector must be the correct size for you. If it’s too small it won’t protect your lower back and if too big, it won’t fit comfortably under your clothes. Label sizes refer to torso length and can be confusing. If you’re not confident in taking your own measurements, visit a reputable dealer and ask them to measure and fit a back protector for you.

Earplugs The noise created as the wind passes over your helmet at high speed can permanently damage your hearing. A helmet with minimal

air ducts and scoops can reduce wind noise, but your best bet is to wear earplugs on long rides. Earplugs range from disposable universalfit foam bungs to bespoke polyurethane items that, if looked after and kept clean, will last you years and offer the most protection. Prices start at just pence, but can rise to over £100 for top-ofthe-range custom plugs.

Back pack The one big difference between driving a car and riding a bike is storage. Bikes and scooters have limited storage meaning a backpack is an essential item for everyday use. Whether to hold a change of clothes or simply your lunch and wallet,


many bikers would be lost without them. Make sure you buy one that’s comfortable and big enough to hold all your gear. You can also get brightly coloured ones that help you be seen and stay safe. Prices start as low as £19.99. The model shown is a Richa Adventure, priced at £69.99

CASE STUDY 19-year old Tom Croft thought he would be OK taking a trip on his bike without the right protective clothing, he was wrong…

‘It was a hot summer’s day and I was popping to the shops for some milk. I jumped on my bike with just my helmet on and a T-shirt, as I decided that it was too hot to wear my jacket. On the way there, I hit a pothole and went over the handlebars. I landed on my right arm, breaking it, but the abrasion also left me with deep grazes, which went down to the bone. I’ve had to undergo skin grafts and have physical therapy. I can use my arm again now, but it will always bear the scars of that day. I will never ride without proper protective clothing again. It’s just not worth it…’


Be smart!

Using your smartphone when riding could save your life…


SING YOUR MOBILE PHONE when riding is bad news. However, your phone can also be an important piece of safety kit when you hit the road. REALRIDER® is an app that uses smartphone tech to help save your life in an accident. The groundbreaking app records routes and connects an injured rider to the NHS Ambulance Control Room after detecting a crash. Powered by REALsafe®, the app sends a rider’s GPS location, mobile number and medical info to the control room, which immediately makes contact with the rider. John Rowland, of the North East Ambulance Service which manages this UK scheme, knows the value of REALRIDER®. ‘It’s a brilliant app, with potential to save bikers’ lives by helping us get medical attention to them much faster’ he says. Over 13,000 motorcyclists have

signed up to REALRIDER®, knowing that by turning on REALsafe® before setting off, they have the peace of mind that they’re not alone, should the worst happen. A video showing how the technology works, which does not record speed, is at REALRIDER® Director Andrew Richardson says: ‘We want to protect as many new riders as we can, so we’re offering FirstBike readers a free 12-month trial of REALsafe®, worth £25. This will improve safety and allow riders to track and share their routes, find biker cafés and meeting points and connect with other riders on the free website.’ The site is packed with useful features including over 2000 biking routes, your own garage to save important biking info, plus hours of quality rider improvement videos such as reading the road, filtering and how to get the most from your bike.

the new REAL RIDER amazing app

claim your free download

The REALRIDER® app is free with REALroutes® and REALbenefits. The premium version with REALsafe®, the technology that detects if you have a crash and gets an ambulance to you when you need it most, normally costs £25 per year via a subscription.

As a reader of FirstBike you can claim your one-year’s free code worth £25 by emailing ‘First Bike Offer’ to A unique code together with set up and download instructions will be emailed to you. It’s as easy as that!

Terms and conditions The REALsafe® Code offer is open to UK residents and no cash alternative is available. The offer expires on 1 April 2015. The REALRIDER® App is available on iPhone 3S and above or Android smartphones running software 2.2.3 and above. A Windows version is expected during 2014. 35

firstbike magazine

Check it out! Do these quick checks before each ride and you’ll not only increase the life of your bike, but you could also decrease the risk of s for Standl, Oil, an accident.

E.R . D . P.O.W

Electrics Complete a full lights check before each ride. Remember to check both the foot and handbrake switches and give the horn a quick blip. If you’re planning to lay the bike up for a while, invest in a trickle charger to keep the battery in good nick until your next ride.

Water Check the level of the coolant, with the bike on its centre stand or with the bike totally vertical. If the level is low remember not to use tap water. Always top up with a mix of distilled water and antifreeze. Anti-freeze not only keeps the coolant from freezing in the winter, but also helps to stop your bike from overheating in the summer.


Petro amage, ,D Water trics and Elec bber Ru


Oil Check the oil level to make sure there’s the correct amount either by using the dipstick or a ‘spyglass’ in the side of the engine casing. Remember to have the bike on its centre stand, use a paddock stand or get someone to sit on the bike to keep it vertical. Never overfill your oil, as it can cause a lot of damage.

simple checks

Damage Check your bike for damage, not only to the fairings but also the light lenses, brake and coolant hoses, cracks to the bike’s frame, missing fairing bolts and dents to the wheel rims from potholes. Also check for loose brake caliper bolts from vibration, cuts or scrapes to the wiring harness and, most importantly, damage to your crash helmet or clothing. If you accidentally drop your helmet, don’t wear it until you’ve had a specialist examine it first.

Rubber Your tyres keep you in contact with the road so make sure you look after them. Check the pressures when the tyres are cold because the pressure will read higher when they’re hot. Also, check the valve to ensure it’s not leaking. See that the tread depth of both tyres is greater than 1.0mm, as this is the minimum for motorcycle tyres in the UK. Also clear out any small stones from within the tread and ensure there’s nothing penetrating the tyre such as screws or nails. Finally, check both walls of each tyre to make sure there are no cracks starting to form due to lack of use or age.

petrol It’s not only important to check that you have enough fuel for your journey, but also, if you decide to lay your bike up for a long period of time, be sure to brim your tank with fuel. Petrol, unlike other fuels, is extremely cold; when it sits in your tank it will generate condensation, which in turn will mix with the petrol. Water mixed with petrol is seriously bad news as it’ll seriously damage your engine.


simple checks

firstbike magazine

other crucial checks


steering & suspension


Wheel the bike along and feel for resistance, indicating binding calipers or warped discs. Check the brakes bite when you squeeze the lever, the pads have plenty of wear left and that they’re seated correctly in the calipers. Finally, check the level of the fluid in the brake reservoir mounted on your handlebars – it should be within the marked area.

While checking the brakes, turn the bars between locks. Graunching or resistance could be worn headrace bearings. Push down on the bars and saddle to make sure the suspension squats smoothly and returns back to its original height. Make sure the struts are clean and dry. Excessive oil means the seals are worn and need replacing.

Check the tension of the chain; it should have around an inch of slack, but check the manual for the correct settings. If possible put the bike on a paddock stand and spin the rear wheel with your hand and inspect, lubricate and clean your chain regularly. Tight spots, worn sprockets and rust could indicate either adjustment or replacement is necessary.

SELF-SERVICE SAVER Regular servicing is essential to keeping your bike running sweetly. Maintenance by a qualified mechanic is best, but with parts and labour costs


making even simple jobs pricey, proper servicing gets put off. This can be disastrous, with far larger bills hitting if a small fault develops into a bigger one.

Many tasks can be done on a DIY basis. Check the service schedule in the handbook – it’ll give you mileage intervals for key jobs. Next buy a workshop manual, or check out the numerous online videos that show you what you’ll need and how to carry out the job. It may take you a bit longer than if you dropped it off at your local garage and you may need to invest in some tools, but you should be saving bundles of cash in return. Also, you’ll get a better idea of how your bike works and be better placed to diagnose potential problems in the future.

Tested and approved by Valentino

Bridgestone takes the lead again. Just like nine times world champion Valentino Rossi, the experts at Bridgestone are always looking to find that extra edge with performance. But how do you make the best even better? Taking all our learnings from MotoGP, we worked on our class-leading S20 tyre with Valentino to add even more grip, stability and durability. The Battlax Hypersport S20 Evo is born. The rest can only follow.

Now available in the following H rated sizes:

110/70 R17 M/C 54H (Front) 140/70 R17 M/C 66H (Rear) 150/60 R17 M/C 66H (Rear) Bridgestone Corporation For your nearest Bridgestone Authorised Dealer, visit our website.

firstbike magazine

top tip When securing your bike, try to keep locks and chains off the floor, as it makes it harder for a thief to smash them with a sledgehammer.

OR T I LOCK LOSE IT! Keep your bike secure at home, or out and about


ome Office figures show that theft rates for motorcycles in the UK are far higher than those for cars, with £3 million-worth of motorcycles stolen every month. And if you think that sounds scary, wait until you hear how long it takes a thief to steal a bike – just 20 seconds on average! Which is why it’s so important to ensure


your ride is properly secured whenever you leave it. But don’t think just because you’re at home you can relax, as 80% of bikes are stolen from the owner’s home. But before you lock your bike in a military bunker, never to see the light of day again, check out our advice to see how you can still use your bike and beat the thieves at the same time.

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ou t a n d a b ou t

At home:


Keep it out of sight Don’t leave your bike on show at home; try to put it away in a locked garage or sturdy shed. Anything that removes it from view is a bonus, even if you simply wheel it to your back garden or cover it with a tarpaulin; it’s better than nothing.


Chain it up If leaving it on view is your only option, chain it to an immovable object such as a large tree or lamppost. Bikes aren’t that heavy and a thief can lift your bike into a van in seconds if it’s not secured to something. A good solution is a wall or ground anchor fitted to your house or driveway (or inside your garage) which you can chain your bike to. Some act as a bike stand that you wheel the bike into before locking it down with a chain, while others consist of Any security is better than nothing; it might deter the opportunist thief

a hardened metal loop that you pass your chain through. All need to be installed properly to be effective.


Immobilise it An alarm and immobiliser are often required by insurers. They cut the ignition or fuel – sometimes both – making them hard to defeat, and make an excellent deterrent. Look for systems with Thatcham approval as they’re thoroughly tested.


garage security Improve the security of your garage or shed by fitting door anchors, extra locks or bolts, or park a car against the garage door preventing a thief from entering. You could even install a DIY-fit garage alarm. At around £20 for a basic model, they’re cheap and easy to fit and make plenty of noise to scare off wouldbe intruders.


Park sensibly Try to park in a public place that’s well lit at night and is within sight of plenty of passers by. Dedicated motorcycle bays with fixed locking points are best.


Lock it up Invest in a good quality chain or D-lock, which can be carried safely on the bike. A good lightweight option is a disc lock, which fits around your front brake disc to stop the wheel turning.


Secure your lid If you can’t take your helmet with you when you leave your bike, and you don’t have suitable storage on your bike, buy a lockable helmet bag. You just pass a chain or cable through the bag and then through the helmet’s chin bar.


tracker can track your bike if it’s stolen. From £249 plus an annual fee of around £125.


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bike security

datatag Microdots, markings or tiny transponders containing owner details that thieves can’t scary remove. From stat around £90, no Bikes from the big annual fees. makers (Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki) are popular with organised crime groups who sell them on the black market; they account for 85% of thefts. 41

firstbike magazine



Two-wheeling is fun and practical; bikers scoot through traffic jams where drivers get stuck. Going nowhere, they burn fuel as we zip by on machines that cost less to buy and run.


iking, be it on a 50cc moped, 125cc scooter or high-powered superbike, is in so many ways the best way of getting around in the 21st century. If you’ve just passed your CBT or you’re new to riding you’ll be excited about taking to the road, but remember that you need to take good care – and have good insurance cover. You’re more vulnerable than other road users so you need to be acutely aware of potential hazards; the “sorry mate” driver who fails to see you, the uneven or oil-slicked road surface. As one of the UK’s leading motorcycle insurance specialists˚, we at Carole Nash know that most bike accidents - around two-thirds - are the not the fault of the insured rider, but other road users˚˚.


Remember also that because bikes are portable, without proper protection they can be vulnerable to theft. So, as you embark on your riding career, take extra care; expect the unexpected. Make sure you and your bike are well protected. As a legal requirement insurance is often regarded as an “evil necessity” but, should you ever need to claim on it, you’ll be more than grateful you bought it. Naturally what you don’t want to do is pay more than you need to or buy cover that doesn’t meet your requirements. Here we can help by explaining the different types of cover available and offering expert insider tips on how to get the best deal.


advertising feature

The three main types of insurance: Third Party Only (TPO):

Third Party fire and theft (TPFT)

fully comprehensive

The minimum level of cover you must have. It only covers claims by a third party for damage or injuries caused by you. It won’t cover you and your bike against fire, theft or accident.

Provides TPO benefits, plus cash if your bike is stolen or damaged by fire – but not if you damage it yourself. Carole Nash provides breakdown cover and legal protection too.

Covers you/your bike against fire, theft, crash damage plus your liabilities to third parties for damage /injury. However when buying be aware that cover limitations and exclusions may vary.




nick’s top Tips To Cutting Costs If you’re a young rider it’s even more important for you to negotiate yourself the best deal you can get, as you’re a higher insurance risk. Our research suggests bikers aged 16-19 are 2.5 times more likely to suffer a theft than bikers aged 40-44*. Young riders also lack what insurers love most: experience. To help you, Carole Nash director Nick Baker offers these top tips:

your bike with Carole Nash DNA+ forensic coding security – it’s free with all Carole Nash insurance policies. ■ Put it in the garage. Our research shows that bikes are six times more likely to be stolen from a public road than from a garage*. Insurers can offer discounts if your bike is garaged – they may even insist on it.

■ Don’t assume TPO will be the cheapest; higher risk riders can favour this cover and push up its cost. Always compare against TPFT and Comprehensive.

■ Agree a voluntary excess. If you’re willing to take the risk it may be possible to increase your excess (the amount you must pay towards settling a claim) in return for a reduced premium.

■ Secure your machine. Using insurance-approved devices can reduce your premium by up to 10%, or you can protect

■ Compare – carefully. It’s good to shop around, but not all policies feature on price comparison sites. Get quotes

direct from a specialist like Carole Nash – and make sure you’re comparing likefor-like. Some policies will include useful benefits such as breakdown cover and motorcycle legal protection which can be used to recover your uninsured losses and compensation for injury if you’re involved in an accident which is not your fault. Some won’t.

Nick Baker

Carole Nash director

For a great deal on your bike insurance call Carole Nash for a bike quote today: 0800 458 2603. ˚Voted most used broker by readers of Ride magazine in their 2010 Rider Power survey. ˚˚Data from Carole Nash Motorcycle Accident Survey 2009. Email for a copy * Data from Carole Nash Motorcycle Theft Survey 2007. Email for a copy. Carole Nash Insurance Consultants Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.


insurance cover

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top t


Don’t b getting uy a bike before riders b some quotes. M ag they can something th any en ’t Bigger e afford the insu find rance. ngines m e a cost – a nd don’t n a higher lie to ge the prem t ium You’ll be down. found out.


Insurance is costly, but riding without proper cover is not only foolish, it’s illegal INSURANCE AND THE LAW Keep your bike insured and you’re legal; fail to, and the cops will catch up with you sooner or later. When they do, if you can’t prove you’re insured, your bike can be seized and you’ll get 6-8 points on your licence. RIGHT KIT = MORE CASH Aside from the safety benefits of wearing proper protective equipment if you have an accident, it could also help you financially. That’s because if suitable protective equipment was not in use at the time of claim, a personal injury award may be reduced by 10-25%, so as well as being injured, you may also be out of pocket.


EXCESSES The excess on your policy is the contribution you must make in the event of a claim. Excesses for young riders tend to be around £500, but you can raise or lower this figure if you wish. This will have an impact on your premium – a higher excess usually equates to a lower premium and vice versa. NO CLAIMS DISCOUNT Once you’ve got your policy sorted, for every year you insure a bike without making a claim, you’ll earn a year’s no-claims bonus (NCB) or noclaims discount (NCD), usually up to a maximum of five years. How much this is worth

THE TRUTH HURTS Sam (20) decided to buy a new bike with a custom paint job and race exhaust. When arranging insurance, Sam claimed it was completely standard. Soon after, Sam crashed but his insurer refused to pay up. The assessor could see the bike had been modified, and as Sam had chosen to lie, the insurer cancelled the policy. depends on your insurer, but it’s not unusal for a five-year NCD to cut your premium by up to 60%. If you have a crash, do the maths and make sure it’s worth claiming for, as you’ll lose your No Claims Discount if you do, so you could end up with much higher premiums for years to come.

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STAYING ALIVE Riding a bike can be exhilarating and rewarding, but it comes with very real dangers. Here’s how you can enjoy riding while staying safe on the roads


otorcyclists make up 1% of the total traffic on the UK’s roads, but account for over 20% of the total numbers killed or seriously injured. That’s scary. Unlike car drivers, who rely on the millions of pounds of research and development that manufacturers put into improving the safety of car occupants in the event of an accident, motorcycle riders don’t have that luxury. On a bike, there’s no side

impact bars, crumple zones or driver airbags to save you when things go pear-shaped, so the best way to stay intact is to not get into a sticky situation in the first place. That’s why motorcyclists need even greater awareness on the road, of their own actions, their surroundings, the road surfaces, and the actions of others around them. But you can cope with it all; these are the hazards you should be looking out for and how you can avoid them.


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Visibility isn’t just about how well you can see; it’s also about how easily other road users can see you. The Police Rider’s Handbook (Roadcraft) says that a third of drivers involved

in a daylight collision with a motorcyclist claim not to have seen the motorcycle before the crash. At night that figure rises to half. Part of the reason bikes can be hard to spot is that the head-on view of a rider and machine is relatively small compared with most road traffic,


making it difficult to assess speed. If the road’s busy, a rider can all too easily get lost against a cluttered background with disastrous results. It’s for this reason that making yourself as conspicuous as possible is a crucial technique to staying safe on the road.



Wear reflective and/or brightly coloured clothing A high-vis vest or reflective jacket can be worn over your protective leathers and a white or bright-coloured helmet will also help you to stand out.



Use your lights in daylight as well as at night A headlight helps you be seen by other road users. Keep it clean for maximum effectiveness and avoid coloured tints – they cut the light level and are illegal.


Adopt a dominant road position Don’t hug the gutter. You’ll be easier to see if you ride towards the centre of the lane – about two-thirds out from the kerb is more or less right – as this is where most car drivers are used to looking.




Defensive riding is all about staying one step ahead of the game and riding in a style and with a mindset that puts you in the safest position to deal with anything that the road – or other road users – can throw at you.


Look up The further you look, the more you’ll see. Knowing everything that’s going on around you is key to avoiding dangerous situations. Move if you need a better view.


Anticipate problems The more time you have to react to a hazard the more likely you are to deal with it safely. Police riders

recommend commenting aloud on an upcoming hazard, detailing what you intend to do.

motorcycle safety

danger zones According to an in-depth study of motorcycle crashes, the most common accidents involve failing to negotiate bends on a country A-road, collisions at junctions, collisions while overtaking and loss of control.


predict hazards A stationary bus means pedestrians, a bouncing ball in the road means children at play, a bare, open road means crosswinds. Experience can help you predict hazards before they appear.


Check your blind spots Doing your rearward safety checks isn’t just something you do to pass your test, it’s a potentially life-saving habit – hence why it’s known as the ‘Lifesaver’. Make sure you keep it up.


Give yourself space Staying a safe distance behind the vehicle in front increases your range of vision and gives you space to stop in an emergency. Give parked cars at the side of the road plenty of clearance. Allow for car doors opening or pedestrians appearing from between parked cars. Position your bike accordingly and reduce speed as the space around you is reduced.


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Losing control while going round a bend is one the biggest causes of accidents involving motorcycles. Always remember that left-hand bends present a bigger danger, because if you lose control here you generally end up sliding into oncoming traffic.

5 STEPS TO CORNERING SUCCESS For each corner you take, keep these five steps in mind:


Information Consider all the info available in front and behind, and allow for changes in the road surface and the effect that weather conditions have on the road.


Your position Position yourself to minimise risk and give yourself the best view of the bend and the road ahead. Be prepared to change position if the situation changes as you go round the bend.



Your speed Are you going too fast for the corner or your skill? Adjust your speed before entering the corner, not whilst negotiating the bend.


choose your gear The correct gear gives you control and allows you to use your throttle to react to a situation, so continually monitor your choice of gear.


stopping distance Can you stop in the distance you can see will remain clear, and on your own side of the road, if you need to?

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sign language These signs provide information when approaching corner: Chevron signs indicate a sharp bend. Markings such as ‘slow’ are there for a reason! Tree lines, hedgerows may indicate which way the road bends. Vanishing points a good way to assess the severity of a bend.


motorcycle safety

IDENTITY PARADE Knowing what hazards are out there will give you a much better chance of avoiding them. These are the top 10 tarmac terrors to watch for… Potholes A real menace to bikers, so look well ahead and adjust your speed when riding down poorly surfaced roads; take avoiding action if you see any craters. Puddles can hide large potholes, so be wary when riding through them. Oil or diesel spills Oil and diesel forms a slick layer on the tarmac which can be as slippery as ice. Hard to spot, it can catch you unaware as you have much less grip than expected. Keep an eye out for rainbow-coloured markings on the road and slow down. If you lose grip mid-corner, roll off the throttle and avoid using the brakes, which can lock up. Manholes and drain covers Unless they’re raised or loose, you shouldn’t have an issue with riding over drains and manholes in the dry – but in the wet they can be very slippery. This isn’t such an issue if riding in a straight line, but hit one mid-corner and it can be a scary experience. In the wet try to alter your line through a corner to avoid drains or manholes where possible but, if it’s unavoidable, slow your speed and keep the bike as upright as possible.

Mud More of a problem on country lanes than major routes, mud on the road can be a danger, especially if you need to brake or turn. When riding on a country lane, look at the road surface when you see an entrance to a field, especially if it’s wet, and plan to slow or take avoiding action if necessary. This can also apply to the exits of building sites.

Black Ice A thin layer of ice on the road can be one of the trickiest hazards to deal with. Often found in shaded areas, where the sun hasn’t thawed the tarmac, it’s almost impossible to see as it takes on the colour of the underlying road. Approach any potential areas with caution and try to keep the bike upright through any bends and reduce your speed.

Gravel Loose stones on the road surface can reduce grip, so look for signs that indicate a road with a loose surface and slow accordingly. Gravel can also build up on the outside of roundabouts so try not to ride in this outer edge.

Painted areas Any part of the road that’s been painted could be a hazard, especially when wet. Road markings can become very slippery when wet, so avoid riding on them if you can.

Standing water While bikes may not aquaplane as much as cars – due to he rounded nature of the tyres being better at dispersing water – riding through standing water can still be a hazard for a biker as it can obscure your view of the tarmac beneath, hiding more dangerous hazards.


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Road repairs Some road repairs may not be smooth and level and can upset the balance of your bike, while others may be flat, but if fixed with bitumen, can still have very slippery areas in the wet. Keep your eyes peeled and slow down in necessary. Animals Amimals running into the road can lead to serious accidents. Being so unpredictable, it can be hard to know how best to act if an animal runs out in front of you, as swerving may result in you losing control and having a bigger crash. Cutting speed in areas where animals or wildlife may be present, can give you valuable time to react.


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advanced trainin



he moment the examiner says you’ve passed your test, thoughts of further training usually get lost in a cloud of celebratory tyre smoke. However, dismissing post-test training could be a mistake, especially if you’re planning a life in the saddle. Real-life riding will give you much more confidence in

the abilities of yourself and your bike, and you’ll naturally develop increased rider skill as you build up time in the saddle. However, without further training, it’s easy to get rusty; which could be dangerous, or even fatal. Post-test training means you can have your riding assessed by a qualified trainer who can help you take any appropriate action before it’s too late.

Keeping your skills razor sharp in this way, you’ll not only be narrowing your odds of having an accident, but you’ll also learn how to get the best from your bike and even save money as, not only will you be able to ride smoother and more efficiently, but also many insurance brokers offer discounts to riders who have completed voluntary post-test training courses. So what are you waiting for?

Blind spots Using your mirrors is essential, but you still need to check the blind spot over your shoulder

staying alive Bad habits can kill. By taking part in post-test training you can iron out any potential problems and sharpen your skills to avoid becoming an accident statistic.


save cash Investing in some extra training can help you ride more effectively and efficiently, saving you money on fuel while also reducing the wear and tear to your bike.

REDUCE insurance By completing an approved post-test training scheme such as ERS, you could cut your insurance premium by up to 20%, saving you some serious wedge every year.




There are plenty of options to hone your skills, from roadbased police-run schemes to circuit-based ones that include some track time. Most schemes are available across the country, so there’s sure to be one local to you. These are two of the most popular training schemes.

Enhanced Rider

OR try... If you want extra training including on-track, Performance Plus is held at Lincolnshire’s Cadwell Park race circuit. All levels of rider and all types of bike are catered for from commuter to supersports bikes. Space is limited so download a form from tinyurl. com/n5m4tpg. Price: £89

advanced training

bike safe

A project run by police forces The Enhanced Rider Scheme in the UK, the emphasis is on (ERS) is run by the Driver and having fun and improving Vehicle Standards Agency skills, knowledge and hazard (DVSA) and the Motorcycle awareness, to make riding Industry Association (MCIA). safer and more enjoyable. Less Aimed at riders with a full of a training scheme, BikeSafe licence, keen to hone their is about hazard awareness skills, ERS is a bespoke training and how to make your scheme, that lets you do as motorcycling safer, followed little or as much training as up in most forces by an onyou need to get your riding to road assessed ride.   the required level. Each course Most forces charge around identifies weaknesses, with £25 for what’s usually a a trainer helping you one-day course. The develop your skills ‘I did it!’ morning focuses and reduce risks. The feedback on the theory, Your riding from the ride-out has looking at is assessed by made me more aware of common errors going for a 1-2potential hazards on the and evaluating hour ride with road. The day was fun your sensitivity your trainer, and has made me a to hazards, while in different safer rider. Gary the afternoon sees conditions. After age 18 you out on the road the assessment, with an assessor who if your riding is OK, gives detailed feedback on you’re given a certificate. the strengths and weaknesses If the trainer finds areas that need attention, a bespoke rider of your riding – after which you should undertake further development plan is devised training, ideally.  to tackle them. Aimed at all bikers, BikeSafe The cost of the training is for enthusiasts with a wide varies between providers; range of experience, skills once you’ve completed it, and machinery. Whatever you you’ll receive a report and ride, you’ll be welcome and a certificate which qualifies will benefit from one of the you for a discount with most workshops. specialist motorcycle insurers.


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FirstBike 2014/15  
FirstBike 2014/15