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Tips On Riding A 125 On A Motorway – By Ren Withnell

According to the Highway Code, I quote from the website…

“Motorcycles under 50 cc, cyclists, horse riders, certain slow-moving vehicles and those carrying oversized loads (except by special permission) also MUST NOT use motorways.”

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/DG_069862

This means that if your bike is over 50cc’s you can ride this on the motorways in the UK – as long as you have passed your full test for the machine you’re riding!  You cannot take any vehicle onto the motorways with “L” plates or with just your CBT certificate.  I personally would not fancy taking a Cub 90 on the motorways, but it seems you can.  I do however regularly ride my 125 around the motorways of the North West.

Most fellow bikers raise an eyebrow when I mention this.  I admit not having an excess of power does make riding along a motorway…er…interesting.  The first and most obvious tip is to ensure you’re bike is up to the job.  Tyres should be in good order and correctly inflated, the chain should be in good order and correctly tensioned, lights all working and everything else as it should be.  Also be sure the oil level is correct as the motor takes a fair pounding at motorway speeds on a 125.

The next piece of advice is to get the mindset right.  There’s no point trying to be the fastest thing out there, on a 125 that’s just not going to happen.  Accept that you’re probably the smallest, least powerful and most insignificant vehicle on the motorway.  Also you need to come to terms that most road users will also treat you as such.  YOU are in THEIR way and even though you have a legal right to be there you’re going to spend a lot of time being bullied.  You can either get angry and dangerous, or deal with it professionally and focus on keeping as safe as you can be.

Oddly enough, busy motorways are easier to ride that quiet ones.  On a busy motorway the speeds are reduced to a level that the 125 can cope with.  I like to get onto the motorway at 50mph and cruise until a lorry overtakes me.  I then allow him to pull in and I match my speed to his, usually around the 52 to 56 mph mark.  This means I’m flowing with the traffic.  It also means that even with a safe 2 second gap the lorry breaks up the air and makes keeping pace, especially into headwinds, a lot easier. 

Beware trying to overtake on the motorway especially into headwinds.  Behind most vehicles it can feel as though there’s enough power left to overtake.  As soon as you pull out of the slipstream you can suddenly find there’s nothing left to complete the overtaking manoeuvre.  This at worst can be dangerous, at best is embarrassing.  Unless you have a super-powerful tuned 125, when you’re above 50mph then overtaking’s probably best left alone.

Quiet motorways, especially at night, are scary.  With a limit of 70mph we know most people will travel at 80mph.  If you’re fighting a headwind at 52mph then cars and vans will be closing on you at 28mph, possibly a lot more.  You’ve got a tiny rear light that makes you hard to see, and even if you are seen most drivers will assume you’re on a larger machine and doing at least 70mph.  It only takes a tired driver a moment to rear end you.  Drivers are NOT expecting a slow moving vehicle with one tiny light to be on the motorway at 0200 in the morning, in the rain and wind.  At these times to be honest my best advice is not to be on the motorway.  If you really must then make being seen as easy as possible.  Reflective jackets, all the usual stuff.  Unfortunately you are not allowed to fit flashing lights.

All in all I suggest you put yourself into the minds of drivers.  125’s on motorways are not a common sight.  As such you are unexpected, unusual, slow, small and easily missed or misunderstood.  Even if your bike looks small most drivers, used to seeing powerful bikes whizzing past them at ungodly speeds, will not understand why you’re on the inside lane, wobbling in the wind and barely keeping up.  You can hate tin boxers as much as you like, but you’re the one taking the biggest risks.  Make it as easy as you can for them to avoid you.

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Reader's Comments

Sean said :-
Excellent.
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Ren - The Ed said :-
Thanks Sean - I'm glad someone actually read this!
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liam said :-
thanks for the tips.

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Tony Wilkins said :-
Great piece. I have been riding a 125 for nearly a year now and whilst I have not taken it onto a motorway I do take the odd journey on fast dual carriageways. Like you I find a HGV to tuck behind and settle into a gentle cruise. I have been thinking of visiting my brother and have been put off by the thought of the M56, M6 and M62, might give it a go now, but will wait for the longer sunnier days !!

As a new rider I am glad I found this site :)
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Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Tony.

Sound's like you're going from maybe Chester to Yorkshire? The hill climb out of Rochdale up into the pennies will drop your speed a bit. Luckily it also drops the speed of the lorries too so you'll be fine if you get behind a slow one. Make sure you're not in a rush too. It'll take longer than you think at 55mph. It's a cracking run though.
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Tony Wilkins said :-
Yep, just outside Chester and going up to Huddersfield. Done the journey loads of times in a car so I think I know the hill you mention. Should be interesting :)
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Ren - The Ed said :-
Chester huh? Just outside Chester huh? Is you posh Tony? What is a gentleman of Cheshire doing reading a website like this! Just teasing Tony, it's a terrible thing, jealousy :-)
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Tony Wilkins said :-
:) ROFL

I tend to say Chester because people normally say Mold? Wheres that?
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Ren - The Ed said :-
Mold...it's the name itself that puts people off. I'm sure it means something romantic, dreamy, aspirational or dynamic in Welsh but it fails in translation.

You've got all those great Welsh roads to go and play with, lucky boy. And...AND if you do it all on a 125 then you can give it the beans without fear of a speeding ticket (in the countryside of course).

Might be down your way sometime soon. Lovely part of the world.
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kvalbein said :-
Thanks for that. Great to know.
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james cub said :-
Wise words indeed, you may guess from my name that I do ride a Honda cub, when the need arises on the motorway...yup great advice sit behind an hgv and try to match their speed. I'm far happier if not on back roads then duel carriageways or motorways as vehicles have a clear lane to get by, as on single carriageway A roads some people do stupid overtakes...even though I may be sitting at the speed limit (modified cub) Finally I always hold my lane confidently...DO NOT ride along the curb like a push bike! The cubs a great touring machine and has taken me from my home in Dorset to mid and north Wales/Derbyshire/Birmingham NEC bike show) and a couple of France/Belgium trips...
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Ren - The Ed said :-
Hey James. I follow a few folks who are travelling the world on the indestructible C90. Look out for Ed March, he's in Canada at the moment.

Wise words, don't hide in the gutter otherwise no matter how big your bike is drivers will treat you like a pushbike.

Enjoy your rides and if you ever feel like writing them up I'd love to publish them on here!
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james cub said :-
Hi, thanks for the reply! I follow Ed March , also Sean Dillon is a well travelled c90 chap as well as Nathen (who's last name escapes me)who rode his Aussie postie(ct110 or something) bike from Sydney to London...
Great site here and nice to find a review on smaller bikes like the ANF 125..
cheers
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Ren - The Ed said :-
HI James. Yip I'm following Sean and Nathan too. Sean's just got home now though. I agree with their philosophy. Firstly the smaller the bike the more you can do and see, the less money you spend so you can extend your trip. Secondly the C90, being ever present worldwide can be fixed pretty much anywhere.
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Natasha said :-
thanks, this is really, really helpful!
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Ren - The Ed said :-
Hey Natasha. Glad you find it helpful. It's about getting your head around the attitude first.
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Samantha Davidson said :-
Me and my partner are planning a journey from Derbyshire up to Scotland in July. He has an r1 and is very experienced where as I have an rg 125, and have only just started riding. I know I will not be keeping up with him obviously but do you have any other tips? Everything you have wrote here will be very useful thanks! X
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Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Samantha. Hope you're enjoying the riding!

Firstly you say you've only just started. Have you passed your full test! I assume so.

By "rg 125" I can only guess you mean Suzuki RG 125, the sporty little 2 stroke. They're quite nippy those things but a long motorway trip can torture the engine. Don't get carried away with the speeds. Try and get a few miles done on local motorways or at least dual carriageways. That way you can get used to the way the traffic moves etc and iron out any problems with the bike or your riding.

Derbyshire to Scotland is not a problem, even on a 125. If you haven't done big miles before then maybe organise a stop halfway for the night?

You can read about Sharon's trip to Scotland on her 125...and she was on "L" plates!

Scotland With Friends

I hope it's a good trip, love to hear how you got on.
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Greg said :-
Just wanted to say thanks for some sound advice. Really helped
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Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Greg, you're most welcome. Ride safe.
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Jhonny said :-
Thanks for sharing. Very helpful

Cheers
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Hanora said :-
Hi I'm going to make the trip from Ireland via sienna line to Wales and then use my Suzuki an125cc to go to London ,I will stay 4 days and then travel back again it's part of my bucket list ,I'm 62 five two and I may need to bring a lot of floressent gear and a tall flag so's I'll be seen can't wait for my challenge ??
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Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Hanora. That sounds like a fab trip. Yeah, making yourself visible is important. It doesn't guarantee everyone will see you but you give them the best chance. London, the big smoke. Take your time there too, it's a busy little place that London village. Hope you have a great trip - would love to hear about it.
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kacey said :-
Thanks for this, as a returning biker, downgraded from a 500cc to a 125cc due to size issues (mine and the bike lol)I had been wondering about the legalities and practicalities of a 125 on the m6. Travailing north yesterday into the wind I did think what a hard ride it would be on the bike. Think I will hold off till I know the bike better and the weather hopefully warms up
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Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi kacey. If you're not quite sure about yourself or the bike on the motorway then it's not a problem to "hold off" until you feel more comfortable. There's no rush is there. The weather is certainly turning now, it was a bit chilly this morning on the M6 / M56 and the extra speed drain the heat away quicker. What bike have you got?
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Ciaran said :-
Great advice, I haven't got a bike yet but I'm looking for a good 125 to start riding. I was thinking a yamaha wr125x. The only problem is that my mum and dad realy dont want me to get one because of how dangerous it is.
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Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Ciaran. I'm not going to tell you motorcycling is safe. I've lost friends and almost been killed myself. If you're passionate about motorcycling you'll find a way when the time is right. Motorcycling is a risk. You can greatly improve your chances by wearing hi-viz gear, riding carefully, being alert and obeying the traffic laws. This won't guarantee your safety though.

I'm guessing you're young. I doubt you'll listen to an "owd mon" like me but if I could talk to young Ren of 25 years ago I'd say "slow down...you'll enjoy it much more."
UTC
rickbat said :-
from a rider that have been on the road for just over 22 years i think your tips are quite solid and can be used not just on a motorway but also on a dual carriageway.

not i just want to add that if you already ride on a dual carriageway then a motorway isnt going to be much different,
and in my humble opinion i think a motorway is safer than a dual carriageway and i will write some examples as to why i think this way

these are some hazards that you will find on a dual carriageway with a 70mph speed limit that you by law shouldn't come across on a motorway

pedestrians
pedestrian crossings
cyclists
learners
junctions
roundabouts (on a motorway roundabouts are either above or bellow the motorway)
abnormal loads
slow moving vehicles (tractors and others)
lower quality asphalt
and im pretty sure someone will add a few more to this list


04/01/2016 00:26:36 UTC
rickbat said :-
just want to clarify the junctions i put above
when i said junctions i meant a different type of junctions from what you will find on a motorway
on a motorway if you want to come off that motorway and join a road to the right side of the motorway you have to come off the motorway via a off ramp, and most likely have to negotiate a roundabout either above or bellow said motorway to join the road to the right.

on a dual carriageway while is a uncommon sight to see as most junctions on a dual carriageway have a roundabout, you can still find the odd junction on a dual carriageway where you have to negotiate 2 lanes of oncoming traffic at 70mph to turn in to a side road
im adding a image of a junction just like what i wrote on the A11 near mildenhall in norfolk

A11 norfolk dodgy junction
04/01/2016 00:44:18 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi rickbat. I agree, many 125 riders seem happy with the idea of taking on dual carriageways without batting an eyelid, but motorways scare people. If you're used to national speed limit dual carriageways then you're ready for motorways, licence permitting of course.

There certainly are a lot less hazards on a motorway. Statistically speaking motorways are safer than regular roads too. I still maintain that for 125s the real issue is because very few 125 riders use motorways, other motorway users are not used to seeing and therefore are unfamiliar with our unique problems, primarily a lack of top speed.

Regarding right turns across the centre of a dual carriageways - yes - scary. Firstly we have to use the outside lane to reach the turning. At 55mph when vehicles are approaching at 70 or more I expect to get rear ended! Secondly as you say, then crossing the opposite lanes finding a safe gap is harder than quantum physics.
05/01/2016 09:14:46 UTC
Tristan said :-
Thanks for the info Ren! However, I'm looking for some advice. I'm just about to move in to sixth form, and will hopefully be getting a 125 very soon after (I'll be 17, so a 125 will be all I can get). The problem I have is that a motorway sits in between my home and the school I shall be attending. I have wanted to get a motorcycle for a long time now, and would like to travel to the sixth form college using it, but I'm terrified by the daunting prospect of a motorway. Would it be a bad idea for me to attempt to travel there on a 125? Or do you think that it would be viable for five days a week, almost every week, for two years?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, since I have no idea what to do.
02/02/2016 14:45:13 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Tristan. Firstly let me make one thing absolutely clear. You can NOT ride a motorcycle on a motorway unless you have passed all the tests and gained a full licence for that machine.

I am of course being presumptuous. Just because you are 17 does note preclude you from taking your test for the A1 class of motorcycle that will allow you to ride a 125. However a CBT is definitely not sufficient and your motorcycle must have "L" plates clearly visible and full size both front and rear.

If you are in any doubt whatsoever about your licence then you need to seek professional guidance.

That said...

If you are terrified of the notion of riding on a motorway then my first recommendation is to gain some experience on dual carriageways. Also ride on the regular roads until you gain confidence. While motorways are actually statistically safer when things go wrong they tend to go wrong badly.

A 125cc motorcycle can cover many thousands of miles on motorways. As I've stated in the article you need to ensure the bike is in tip top condition because the high speeds stress the engine as well as all the other parts.

And again from the article do all you can to be as visible as possible.

Finally I strongly recommend adopting a mature attitude towards other road users who will treat your rather poorly. Racing or seeking revenge on those that will inevitably bother you in various ways will only lead to trouble.

Would it be a bad idea? If you think it might be then for the time being I'd steer clear until you feel confident that you can do it safely. How about practising riding the motorways when it is quiet, good weather and good visibility and build up gradually. Maybe an experienced biker could join you on occasion? Maybe a motorcycle instructor?

I hope this helps.
02/02/2016 17:48:06 UTC
Tristan said :-
Thank you for the advice and the speedy response! I plan to get my A1 licence straight after I reach the applicable age, so that won't be a problem :D.

I will make sure to start out on dual carriageways as well, that seems like a very good idea to build up confidence on the road.

I'll make sure the bike is always in the best condition possible, which should be simple enough because my Dad is fairly skilled in maintaining his car, and should be able to show me skills that can be translated to motorcycles. If need be, I will also seek professional assistance to keep it in working order, after all, I don't want to be replacing a £3000 or more vehicle any time soon (I'm a student; I'm poor xD)

I shall also make sure that I do as possible to stay in sight, and wear visible clothing.

My main fear was other drivers, especially those of larger vehicles, being a-holes and driving aggressively/poorly around me. I'm not particularly experienced, so I was just concerned that I may not know how to react. I would never try to seek revenge or race them though, especially on a motorway.

Focusing on quieter days first seems like a good thing to do too, so I'll try that as well. As for a more experienced biker, I don't really know any, so that may be a problem.

Anyways, thanks for the help, and if someone more experienced believes a 17 year old may at least have a chance at being to do this, I should give it a try. Don't take that as me trying to be reckless though, I'll make sure to be as careful as possible, cus I've seen how bad accidents can get.
02/02/2016 19:54:25 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Tristan. If you've got a few spare pennies once you've passed your test ask your instructor for maybe an hour or two lesson on the motorway?

Where are you from Tristan? There's bound to be some local biker hang out where you can make friends and glean opinions, help and advice.
03/02/2016 18:28:11 UTC
Tristan said :-
That is a good point Ren. I'll make sure to ask about motorway lessons. With regards to where I'm from, I live in the East Anglia area, so finding a club should be easy enough, so I'll give that a try too. I hadn't really thought about asking a local hang out, simply on the basis that I figured they may not take a teen just starting biking very seriously. But then, I have no evidence backing that idea up, so I imagine I'm entirely wrong. I'll check a couple of them out and see what they say. Thanks again for helping me out, and I'll go for speaking to bikers for the time being :)
03/02/2016 18:59:16 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Tristan. By hang out I mean a place where bikers usually gather! Here in the North West there's Rivington Barn for example. On a warm summer's day there might be 300-600 bikers up there on a Sunday afternoon. I am not aware of anything like that in East Anglia. Have a look on Facebook, there's probably some info and groups on there.

That said the bike clubs are cool too. You're right, some won't entertain a "yoof" on a 125 but then plenty will welcome you with open arms. It can be hard finding a club to your style and taste so don't be afraid to "shop around". There's a whole world of motorcycle folks out there. Some are idiots, thugs and chavs but most of them are regular people who share the same passion.
www.thebikerguide.co.uk ...
03/02/2016 20:50:55 UTC
Tristan said :-
Well I'll certainly try to find somewhere, and in the meantime I'll give that biker guide a look.
04/02/2016 19:33:05 UTC
Soraya said :-
Great info and tips!!! I will have a go on the M11 going to Stansted airpot from London tomorrow in the morning with my CG125, let's see what happens! :) Otherwise I have the option to get A10 and A120.
10/02/2016 05:11:49 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers Soraya. Be careful out there.
10/02/2016 14:18:01 UTC
Dylan said :-
Thanks for all this information, I am cautiously thinking of doing the M6 to Birmingham to get to work from Telford, a reason for taking the test was to reduce a sometimes ridiculous commute time. However, I get alot of pleasure riding the 125 and would recognise that is different to going to work at 8 on a Monday morning.. I also have a car and can get a train so it's not like I have no other option than riding a 125.. I will probably give it a go as I ride safely even though having just passed a test I know I am not experienced as a biker, but it has to be tried. My only thoughts are when I can afford it should I not be doing this on a bigger bike ideally? My 125 felt like a BMX after a day on the saddle of a Suzuki Bandit, but since pasing the test and not getting a bigger bike, the 125 has all the power I need most of the time. No real question as such! Just useful to use your site to think it through while I procrastinate from clearing the conservatory of junk to make it more pleasent for the summer, when I will be out on a motoebike anyway!
30/03/2016 22:16:31 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers Dylan. It really is a matter of personal choice. A bigger bike will make keeping up with any traffic at any speed easier, there is no doubt. 125s are not really designed for motorway speeds but I hate saying that because it will put readers off and they should not be.

Suck it and see, decide for yourself. What works for you won't work for me and vice versa. All I ask is that you remain safe and sensible.

Now clear out that conservatory you lazy swine!!
31/03/2016 13:29:52 UTC
dok said :-
I would like to go with something like a 250cc bike, but I am only legally allowed to ride a 125 for now, so I don't have much of a choice /:
04/09/2016 23:35:31 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Modern 250s can sustain motorway speeds no problem Dok. But if 125 is all you have then that's that. I do hope you've passed your test!
06/09/2016 07:26:35 UTC
Alex said :-
This has made excellent reading. I have been riding my 125 for 4 months now and have already covered over 3,000 miles. I live in London so use it most days for getting from A-B, but have already done two hefty trips- London to Carmarthenshire via the A40 and then, slightly shorter but still enough to cause stiffness, London to Bristol. I am still on 'L' plates so unfortunately can't use motorways yet, however with city commuting and dual carriage way miles under my belt, I feel ready. I know I don't have much experience, but what A roads have a-plenty is fluctuating speed limits, and when that national speed limit sign comes up ahead people absolutely bury it and clearly drive faster than perhaps they would on a motorway in order to make up for lost time. It's a fuzzy logic but as a car driver myself, I know I have been guilty of it in the past. I would say it is vital to experience dual carriage ways. I would also encourage anyone to actually go to their nearest city and just ride around to build up confidence.

Another thing I recently found useful was practicing how to handle the bike when there is a lack of grip. I was riding along some rather greasy country lanes a few weeks back and approached a tight corner at very low speed, no more than 15mph, I touched the back brake and the rear wheel immediately locked up. Of course when this happens your instinct makes you pull the front break, which is not the best idea. I got the bike around the corner safely, but had a there been another vehicle coming the other way then there may have been a problem. Later that week I was camping and the campsite was literally deserted, so I took the opportunity of riding on wed grass and practiced my handling skills by deliberately causing either wheel to lock up when cornering. Hugely recommend doing that, obviously ask the land owners permission first and assure him or her that you aren't just going dirt riding and are going to tear up their field. Anyway, safe riding to all of us that are gaining experience and to those who have riding for longer than we.
15/10/2016 00:52:41 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Now THAT's what I call some good advice Alex. ANY form of motorcycling will improve your road skills. Race tracks will help you appreciate what a bike can do, off road riding will develop skills to deal with on road slippages. Slow riding will improve balance and machine control. Just don't go thinking because you're fast on track or dirt you can ride fast on the public roads! It don't work like that.

Riding in cities is not for the faint hearted. It will certainly hone your skills of observation and teach you to beware of other road users. I have been through the quaint little village of London and found it to be a great challenge even with my years of experience. Personally I don't get much pleasure from city riding but I quite agree it keeps you sharp!

Training also helps too. After 26 years on two wheels the more I learn the more I realise I still know so little. My cornering leaves a little to be desired, my road position is often times lazy and I'm sure any motorcyclist with more than a week's experience could point out something I do wrong. Keep on learning.

The best piece of advice I can give any rider? Slow down! Not to a snails pace just take 5 or 10 percent off your pace and everything becomes much more manageable.
15/10/2016 11:22:39 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
"The best piece of advice I can give any rider? Slow down!"

Agreed. In 9 times out of 10 this will, if not avoiding a collision / nasty incident altogether, at least make the results less catastrophic. I believe that few of us are actually competent enough to recognise the 10% (or less) where it's possible to "accelerate out of trouble" which I park somewhere near the "laid the bike down to avoid an accident" category.

The other advantage of slowing down is that both the bike and the rider are ready for further slowing - suspension settled, fingers & foot over brakes etc.

And you're absolutely right about constant learning. Ten years ago I bought my first "modern" bike - a year old Triumph Tiger 955i. A real monster with 100 bhp or so together with a very tall and top-heavy stance. In the first 2 weeks I'd managed to topple it twice - both at walking speed. I had been riding for around 40 years - my previous machine was an 850 Norton Commando that I'd owned for 20 of those years. I considered myself a competent rider at least, having sailed through an IAM test and never dropped the Norton.....

I realised that I'd never actually learnt to ride slowly and took the opportunity to learn. Use of the back brake, slipping the clutch, throttle held at a constant position - once learnt it was all so much easier. But all were out of the question for the old Brits, where slipping the clutch was a definite no-go area.

I also had an assessment by a qualified instructor (see link) which was excellent at pointing out those areas where I'd become sloppy or needed improvement.
www.survivalskills.co.uk/index.html#our_courses ...
15/10/2016 13:57:36 UTC
lynn said :-
Sound advice, I needed to hear this lol I will take this on board, thank you
14/11/2016 08:47:55 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers Lynn. Safe riding.
14/11/2016 09:23:52 UTC
neil said :-
Ive been riding my Honda ANF 125 on the motorway for my commute to Heathrow for a couple of years now.Its just under 20 miles each way and 80% of the trip is on the M4.
Your right when you say its more dodgy later at night when quiet because the speeds are up.I work shifts so travel early morning and night.
I like the 0730 shifts when the motorway is busy and speeds are lower.
Its great when theres jams because filtering is easy with big gaps between lanes (usually) and car drivers must hate it seeing a scooter cruising past when they been stationary for ages.
The big bikers at work must think im mad,but they only come into work on their bikes for a couple of weeks in the year,when im most of the year round.
Hers why i think its safer than A roads : When im overtaken its 99% of the time given a very wide berth because of the width of the lanes.When overtaken on a A road the car/van/truck driver passes much closer and more likely to take a risk when doing it.
I tell people,who tell me my bike is too small for the motorway,what is more dangerous, a HGV passing me a couple of mph faster and giving a wide berth or someone on a bicycle getting a car desperate to pass them bombing past with a doors width(if there lucky) with a oncoming vehicle and cutting back infront of the bike.See that all the time.
Done nearly 10,000 miles on this route to date.
04/01/2017 21:50:15 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers Neil. You are quite right about the fact other road users CAN overtake a slower motorcyclist with plenty of room on a motorway. It's quite common on a single carriageway for a frustrated executive to squeeze past on a blind bend if the rider isn't going as fast as the executive thinks s-he ought to be. It happens - a lot.

10,000 miles is good going. You be sure to treat that ANF125 well, it's working hard for you.

Stay safe, stay visible and enjoy the commute.
05/01/2017 07:38:42 UTC
Chris said :-
Hi there,

I have a normal car licence and have been driving for 20+ years. I commute 180 miles everyday on 4 different motorways and I am fed up with traffic! What is the easiest cheapest way for me to do this commute on a bike? Do I need to get a different licence for a more powerful bike or can I use the one I have on 125cc? Which tests do I need to take etc? I know I can reduce the time I spend travelling without having to queue every 5 or 10 miles!
09/01/2017 16:43:21 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Sounds to me like you need a helicopter Chris!

First and foremost you'd have to pass the complete motorcycle test before you can ride on the motorways. Unless there's something I've missed if you only have a car licence you'll need to do a CBT training course before you can ride a 125. Then you'll still need "L" plates on the 125 and you cannot ride on the motorways.

There are several classes of motorcycle licence. Rather than explain them here I'll add a link to the government's own information. It's up to you which class of motorcycle test you take.

Please please don't go thinking a motorcycle is a quick fix solution. Here's a thought for you. Imagine your 90 mile each way commute was on an empty motorway and you travelled at 70mph. Your journey would take 1.3 hours, about 1 hour 20 minutes.

Imagine now that ALL of the journey was in heavy, almost stationary traffic. While you can indeed filter between the lines of vehicles you may only be travelling at maybe 15mph. Now your 90 mile journey will take 6 hours.

People seem to think motorcycles are not affected by tailbacks and jams. THEY ARE! Yes we are still moving but we are not continuing our journey at full motorway speeds, not by a long shot. You may save some time on a motorcycle but perhaps not as much as you may like to think.

Also if you're new to motorcycling it will take a while to develop the required skills to filter with a reasonable degree of safety. Filtering is not for the faint hearted or the inexperienced.`
09/01/2017 21:41:57 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I forgot the link...see below
www.gov.uk/ride-motorcycle-moped/bike-categories-ages-and-licence-requirements ...
09/01/2017 21:43:14 UTC
Theo said :-
Hi Ren,

Great post and extremely informative. I am 20 and about to do my CBT in a couple of days as I would like to take a 125 on A-roads (and potentially motorways when I complete my A2 licence) to get to my university. However I will be travelling from London to High Wycombe.

Is a Honda CBF125 the right bike for the job? I don't have the deepest pockets so I can't really afford a much better bike.. Student life, ey?
10/01/2017 01:40:30 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Theo. The CBF 125 is probably the best 125 for the job in my opinion but I'm biased. Good servicing and maintenance are the key to longevity for any motorcycle.

Be sure to keep your eyes open, ride safely on those city roads and keep your speed down. I've been to that quaint little village of London and it's a scary place! Otherwise enjoy the ride, a 125 is perfect for exploring new places.
10/01/2017 07:14:14 UTC
Theo said :-
Thanks, appreciate the response!
10/01/2017 16:52:45 UTC
Sharon said :-
Hi Theo,

The Honda CBF is as Ren said a fantastic bike so if you can get one then great but if your pockets are not very deep do not be afraid of looking at Chinese bikes. Despite the horror stories these bikes have come on in leaps and bounds the last few years and the quality is much improved but so far luckily not the price.

I can only speak from experience about my own Chinese bike which is a Keeway RKS 125. He is over 3 years old now and has over 23,000 miles on him and he is doing just great. You will find lots of information about my bike on this site.

Have a good look around they are so many 125cc bikes available these days. Good luck.




10/01/2017 23:32:18 UTC
Mark said :-
You state that "You cannot take any vehicle onto the motorways with “L” plates"? Of course you can if you have a full licence.
16/01/2017 20:20:53 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Mark. I must confess my information may be out of date but you ought not to be driving or riding a vehicle with "L" plates unless you haven't passed your test. There are exceptions for instructors.
16/01/2017 22:10:36 UTC
Mark said :-
Cheers Ren - the Highway Code says you should not rather than MUST not.

Obviously better not to and avoid any confusion.
16/01/2017 22:29:38 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Well if it's "should" and not "must" you're quite right to be curious. Like ya said though, best not to avoid confusion.
17/01/2017 05:39:43 UTC
Mark said :-
Cheers Ren

Apparently someone on Facebook is going to report this article for being misleading. :) :) :)

I'm not sure what he think he'll achieve by that, or who he'll report it to. :)

Have a great day, Mark.
17/01/2017 08:14:55 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
The rule for the Highway Code was always "must" = legal requirement, "should" = advice not requirement.

And still is: see link.
www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/introduction ...
17/01/2017 11:01:47 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I know the must versus should thing, although woebetide anyone not following the shoulds as well as the musts.

I am curious about who can and cannot drive with "L" plates. When I was instructing we were allowed to ride with the L plates, typically because we were moving bikes around for customers and the business.
17/01/2017 12:32:37 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
As for being misleading Mark, I can't imagine anyone sees me as a leader and if I'm not leading surely I can't mislead!

Hang on, I think I've disappeared up my own philosophical black hole. Help!
17/01/2017 12:37:24 UTC
Borsuk said :-
Regs are pretty straight forward.
"Plates should be removed or covered when not being driven by a learner (except on driving school vehicles)."
If you are an instructor on a driving school bike then you can keep the plates on. If you are in a private car on a motorway going to or from a lesson then you should remove the plates. No doubt there is a possible fine for not removing your plates I remember my Dad getting a few words in his shell like because he still had them on the car after giving me a lesson 40 years ago.
17/01/2017 19:39:04 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Sounds about right to me Borsuk. I vaguely recall another instructor and I being pulled by the cops on the M62, we were riding 2 Suzuki GS500s with L plates. I can't recall much but I do remember the look of disappointment on his face.
17/01/2017 19:49:44 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I don't want to labour the point, but you won't be fined unless you're actually committing an offence. "Should" in the HC means that you are being advised not instructed.

Of course anyone with any sense will take the L plates off when appropriate.
18/01/2017 11:12:43 UTC
Matty said :-
I've just this weekend covered 590 miles on my 125cc auto scooter pounding the motorway network! Am I a fool? Am I mad? Probably but I tell you what - I'd do it again next week if I could. The bike in question is a 2016 Yamaha Nmax. I set out from the south coast (Fareham) on Saturday morning and made the trip to just north of Stoke on Trent to visit relatives. I reckon the bike is good for 65 on the level but I did pretty much what Ren suggests and tucked in behind a suitable lorry and just took it easy. I stopped at the Cherwell Valley services on the M40 for refreshments and petrol for about half an hour - and the journey to Stoke took about 4 hours door to door and about 210 miles. The M6 in Birmingham was backed up well and proper - roadsigns were quoting 45 mind delays but needless to say I got through in about 10 mins on the scoot - it was a bit hare and the tortoise passing the speedy Audis and BMWs that had passed me back on the M42! On Sunday I did my mammoth day! Off at 9am to hit the M6 north; hanging on against the sidewinder on the Thelwall Viaduct before taking the M62 past Manchester and up over the Pennines. What a brilliant motorway! I managed an indicated 60 mph up the steepest bit - even overtook a lorry... Being on the bike was great to take in the scenery, I even managed to pick out the summit stone at the side of the motorway. I stopped off at Halifax for an early lunch in the glorious sunshine at a cafe in the park by the Jungle Experience - it was like a summers day! Next stop was to visit an old friend I haven't seen in 6 years. Only thing was that he lives in a small village between Brigg and Lincoln. So back on the M62 then the M18 and M180. Boy was that stretch windy or what?! Even hunkered down on the bars I struggled to even hit 60mph - that's when I started to really question my sanity - but I managed to locate a lorry again and tucked in behind which helped massively! I left my friend's place at about 4pm and then it was what felt like the graveyard shift of my road trip adventure the A46 across country all the way down to Leicester. The wind was awful, the traffic busy and I was getting tired. A break and some chocolate helped pick me up and then on to the M1 south, across on the A43 to the M40 and then the A34 past Oxford. Another fuel stop for me and the bike and then off into the now dark evening. I decided to overtake a couple of lorries on an uphill stretch south of Didcot and yep: the wind and the hill very nearly made it a non-overtake - but little beauty - the bike did it with maybe 2mph difference in it! On then down to the M3 and then the M27 and back home by 9:30pm. I filled up 6 times the whole weekend - could have done it just about on one fill up of my car but the bike only has a 6.5 litre tank! Average 93 mpg so not too bad! Next morning my shoulders were aching but the bike didn't look like it had been anywhere - well except for the splattered insect remnants on the front ??
11/04/2017 21:10:12 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Blimey Matty that is one seriously EPIC weekend! You've certainly covered more miles in one weekend on a 125 than I've ever achieved. The most I've ever done in a day was 550 miles on a 1995 CB500 and that crippled me for sure.

Your comment at the end - I know what you mean. You as the rider are shattered and beat after so many miles, so much wind and so much motorway. Yet the bike sits there as if nothing has changed except a few more miles on the clock. I guess metal doesn't have feelings.

Glad you enjoyed it. 125 adventures are the best.
12/04/2017 09:35:52 UTC
CJC said :-
I do on average 100 motorway miles every day on my 125 motorcycle.

Its not a race tuned 125 but its definitely a high spec reliable machine. Yahama YZF R125 is the bike.

It shocks me to hear you guys talking about 50 to 55mph! my average cruise speed on the motorway is as follows.

No wind - 82-84mphmph
In wind - 70mph
Hill Climb - 68-70mph

I tend to stick to the middle lane although i regularly change to the fast lane for overtakes. I also ride in the blistering rain and wind at night on pitch black motorways. Its really not as bad as people make out once you get used to it.
21/05/2017 04:15:52 UTC
Ren -The Ed said :-
CJC - your YZF R125 seems to be considerably quicker than my CBF125! The only time mine reaches 70mph is downhill with a tailwind while drafting a van.

Stick to the middle lane? I hope you're not lane hogging??
21/05/2017 06:29:05 UTC
CJC said :-
I was actually looking at both the Aprilia RS125 and the CBF125 when i was looking for my second bike Ren but then i came across the YZF R125 and i quickly noticed how it was the perfect mix between the power of the RS125 and the reliability of the CBF.

After giving it some thought though i can see why the majority of 125 owners wouldn't feel comfortable on the motorway. I had a skyjet 125 before this and i would have felt extremely vulnerable to wind and speed on motorways with that. With the YZF R125 it feels fairly comfortable on the motorways because its a heck of a big bike for a 125. People don't really overtake you so much because from a distance at 80mph they assume its a 300cc bike i would imagine.

Its not really about lane hogging its about what is safe. During heavy rain the inside lane is full of trucks and lorries which create immense spray. Making it next to impossible to see what is in front of you never mind the road surface. Then the outside lane is full of idiots doing 120mph again creating huge spray. In this type of situation the middle lane tends to be the safest road position. Is it legal? no, is it safer? definitely. Also during heavy traffic the middle lane is again the safest spot for a 125 who doesn't intend to travel at less than 80mph. Because if you stay in the outside lane in heavy traffic then you will constantly be overtaking lorries doing 55mph and overtaking is something i try and minimize on a 125. Been told off for it by traffic police a few times but they did tend to agree that my reasons was justified.

On a nice sunny afternoon with a open motorway i will always stick to the outside lane and just overtake the occasional truck.
21/05/2017 20:26:26 UTC
CJC said :-
Was pulled over the other day actually on the M6 traveling from Carlisle to Liverpool. They got me coming through the pennines stretch. I was doing about 80mph and the rain was so bad that i couldn't even see the white lines separating lanes. So i stuck to the middle lane and had no idea that a traffic cop had been tailing me for ages. After pulling me which he explained due to speeding (80mph?) and cruising in the middle lane for miles. But he did agree that the spray was far less under these particular road conditions and let me go without a fine.

Most of them tend to be fairly understanding and not very educated on bikes providing you give them your valid reasons.
21/05/2017 20:46:49 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I reckon you're a lot more hardcore than myself CJC! While I usually run 20,000 miles a year on two wheels but at 100 miles per day, 5 days a week that's 25k per annum. I'd like to hear how the YZF R125 ages as the miles increase and what sort of work is required to keep it on the road.

A quick internet search suggests the service interval is 3,500 miles. How much does it cost to service?
22/05/2017 07:51:02 UTC
Chris said :-
Hi all this was a great read,
just passed my big boy bike licence but due to other commitments cant upgrade my bike for a few months.
I haven't had any experience on motorways with my little 125 but i think i am going to give it a go i have been on my L plates for 4 years and ride all year round (my wife hates this after having a few slippy accidents) some great advice given here so Thank you all. Just a slightly related note does anyone service there own bikes i am spending £100 a service every 500km on my bike so i am curious if anyone has tips and what i need to go through to service it(i am quite handy with a spanner)
thanks in advance guys/girls
27/06/2017 11:51:27 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I've been servicing my own bike for over 20 years now Chris. I'd strongly recommend getting a Haynes manual for the bike and following their service schedule. The most important thing for 125s is regular oil changes but don't let the other service items slide. It's impossible to say what's required for you model of bike as each one has it's own service intervals, items to be serviced and ways of being serviced.

Great to hear you've passed your test. Enjoy the ride be it 125 or 1400. Sharon and I have been all over the UK and into Europe on 125cc motorcycles and they're great.
27/06/2017 13:43:57 UTC
Bill Rutter said :-
I had a Honda PCX for 2 years and the service intervals were very short (so much so that to use the Main Dealer keep the workshop stamp and the warranty) it became less economical in real terms. Honda reckon on a service including valve clearance check every 2000 miles but my dealer said that to his knowledge no valves have ever been found to be out at that mileage so I could stretch it a bit and still keep my warranty. If you are handy with workshop tools then at least do your own oil & filter change - in fact do as much as you can. Anything a bit testing or needing a special tool can be done by a qualified mechanic. Many people do their own servicing and keep the receipts for what they've used for when it comes time to sell. Dealer charges are largely inflated (I baulk at saying rip off)
27/06/2017 23:21:35 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
My CBF125 has a 2,500 mile service interval again with a check and adjust on the valve clearances. I found for the first 10,000 miles they did need checking but they settled down after that. I check mine every 10,000 miles now.

I'm loathe to advise against following the service schedule to the letter though. Just because I think my tappets will be OK every 10k doesn't mean I'm right and also I don't know what bike other people are riding and how hard they ride them. What works for myself won't necessarily apply to others.
28/06/2017 10:01:54 UTC
chris said :-
Thanks guys appreciate your input,
yeah the service schedule was ridiculous every 500km at £100 a time i was doing this in 4 weeks easy.
So i took the plunge yesterday(got a little sunburn) and serviced the bike started with an oil change, new chain and sprockets and air filter, one think i noticed this morning on my way to work it seems a bit sluggish and idle very low think i might have touched the carburetor screw when giving it a deep clean after my service.

Ren i have just ordered the Haynes manual looking forward to receiving it and saving money on my services.


10/07/2017 10:51:13 UTC
Borsuk said :-
Chris. What bike do you have. A service every 500Km. Never heard of anything that low a service interval before.
10/07/2017 16:44:46 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Yeah, I must say 500km is roughly 300 miles! Sharon's Chinese bike is around 1500 miles, my CBF125 is every 2500 miles. I hope Chris meant to put 5000km which is 3000 miles?
10/07/2017 20:45:01 UTC
Scottie said :-
Appreciate the insight. At 26, I'm considering doing my direct access course, but don't have a lot of money EY to buy a larger bike, so a 125cc would be more cost effective. And gets me to my parents home once every so often. Thank is again for the heads up about other road users. Great piece.
16/07/2017 13:52:56 UTC
Scottie said :-
Appreciate the insight. At 26, I'm considering doing my direct access course, but don't have a lot of money EY to buy a larger bike, so a 125cc would be more cost effective. And gets me to my parents home once every so often. Thank is again for the heads up about other road users. Great piece.
16/07/2017 13:52:57 UTC
Bill Rutter said :-
With regard to slow riding (such as maneuvering in car parks etc) I find it a lot easier to use the rear brake. This keeps everything nice and stable in that the forks won't react (and dive) as when you use just the front brake. Not enough attention is paid to slow riding yet it's where casual observers are more likely to think ' that rider can handle a motorbike'. Also with regard to Ren's advice to 'slow down' I couldn't agree more. When out riding I rarely chase about. I just don't think you can enjoy riding a motorbike riding fast on British roads. There are far too many hazards out there so you need to get those odds in your favour and keep them there. I read an article many years ago when I was a long-distance HGV driver stating that on a London to Birmingham journey the difference between travelling at 50mph and 60mph was something in the region of 8 minutes in real terms. When you consider the increase in fuel economy and less stress on the driver it shows how less is sometimes more. The same with motorcycling but I will concede the difference between riding at 60mph and the National Speed Limit on A-roads to be slightly less marked timewise. But the effort put in by the rider will be much less when taking it easier thereby ensuring a safer ride and being fresher on arrival. I also never, ever ride up the tailpipe of the car in front. I always leave a considerable gap whenever I can. I've lost count of the times that doing what is often called a 'lifesaver' in looking over my shoulder to see what's going on behind would have caused problems had I been following a car too closely that then suddenly slowed severly because the drive had missed his turn or something like that. If a vehicle overtakes and then pulls into that gap so be it. Just ease back again and maintain that space. There will be plenty of opportunities to make up any lost time. Sit back and enjoy the scenery and smells that you miss sitting in a car.
22/07/2017 23:09:07 UTC
Borsuk said :-
That's what they teach us learners. Set your revs, keep your fingers off the front brake when slow maneuvering and just a touch on the back brake to keep you at a constant speed. As soon as you start playing with your right hand the revs go awry and everything becomes jerky.
I think learning to ride has improved my driving, for observation if nothing else, a lot more conscious of motorbikes for some strange reason.
23/07/2017 00:13:52 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
When I was instructing the default method of slow riding was by application of the rear brake with steady revs and clutch. Not everyone could manage it, some had to find their own way but whoever and whatever do not be grabbing that front brake! Sharon knows this - the hard way.

Totally agree on the time thing. The difference in travel time between going mental and going steady even over a massive distance still turns out to be "not a lot". There is one thing to note though. If you ride *too* slowly as an experienced rider it allows the mind to wander rather than concentrate. Again we're all unique and we have to find our own balance. I like to ride at a chilled out pace most of the time with the occasional squirt when it's clear just to wake me up.
23/07/2017 08:12:21 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I only learned this slow riding technique after dropping my new (to me) Tiger 955i twice in the first couple of weeks of owning it. I was seriously considering whether I'd done the right thing (it's a very heavy bike especially when it's on your foot).

When I started riding many years ago, clutches were so delicate that if you slipped them for more than a few seconds they would overheat, start snatching and grabbing, and generally misbehave. So clutch slipping was a definite no.

When I discovered the slipping clutch method and practised a few times, I realised just how effective it is and have never looked back (although of course still not using it on my older bikes).

After having the Honda Super Four for nearly a year now, I've decided to move on from it. Excellent machine though it is, I'm finding the frantic nature of the engine just a bit too much for me. I am considering returning to earlier days with a Moto Guzzi V50 which, as some will know, has linked brakes. Any pointers on slow speed manoeuvring with these, as of course the front brake is applied with the back?

WRT time, the real thief is stops. Even a comfort break with coffee will steal half an hour. Make that an hour if you get anything to eat. The problem with traffic is that it's terribly hard to stay behind something going at a couple of mph slower than you want. But of course once you pass that, you catch up the one in front.....
23/07/2017 11:32:49 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
As far as my understanding of the new laws go - all motorcycles over 125cc must have ABS and those under 125cc must have either ABS or linked brakes. I too am unsure how linked brakes will affect slow control using back braking. I shall endeavour to speak with an instructor sometime soon and seek their experience.

Yes stops make a HUGE difference! Everyone seems to believe a "quick cuppa break" takes 10 minutes. Nonsense. By thr time you've had a pee, a chat, a brew and another pee the hour is gone. Still, stops are essential and often part of the fun too.

As for the CB 400 Super Four. Damn! I wish I had a big garage as I'd have that. Ian you seem to suffer a common disease of motorcyclists - the inability to stick with one bike. You'll get the Guzzi, you'll love it for a while then you'll be ready to move on once more. It's a good job they're motorcycles and not women.
23/07/2017 19:36:56 UTC
 

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