Rider’s guide

Thinking about taking up two-wheels? Here’s what you need to know to stay safe and comfortable on your motorcycle.

Before you ride

As a rider, your safety starts even before you swing a leg over your motorcycle. It’s absolutely crucial to ensure that both your bike and protective gear are up to standard.

As a rider, your safety starts even before you swing a leg over your motorcycle. It’s absolutely crucial to ensure that both your bike and protective gear are up to standard.

View of motorcycle chain being checked for roadworthiness

Motorcycle roadworthiness

Before you ride you need to make sure your motorcycle is roadworthy. Check the:

  • registration is current and the registration plate is clearly displayed and securely attached
  • lights are working – including headlights, tail-light, brake light, indicators
  • brakes, steering, suspension and horn are in correct working order
  • tyre pressure and tread depth is at least 1.5 mm over the whole tyre surface
  • chain/drive belt guard.

Routine motorcycle maintenance

Perform these checks regularly to make sure your motorcycle is in a good and safe condition to ride.

Motorcycle tyre
Put the motorcycle on a stand and make sure you can rotate the wheels. Also check the wear indicators and make sure the tyres are not damaged.
Tyre pressure being checked
Tyre pressure
Check tyre pressure is within the manufacturers’ recommendations, at least every two weeks and when the tyres are cold.
Chain tension and lubrication
Chain tension and lubrication
Rotate the wheels to detect any tight spots. Oil the chain when it is hot.
Brake pads
Brake pads
Look into the calliper to check the pads have enough material on them.
Engine oil check
Engine oil
The oil should be between the high and low marks on the inspection window or dipstick.
Brake fluid
Brake fluid
Check the level on both the front and rear master cylinder reservoirs.
Coolant level check
Coolant level
If your motorcycle is liquid cooled, check the level in the coolant reservoir tank. Never open when the engine is hot.
Fork legs
Fork legs
There should not be any evidence of fork oil leakage.
Electrics check
Check all the electrics such as lights, indicators and brakes.

Rider protection

Wearing the right gear can help you to stay safe, keep you comfortable and protect you from the elements.


Your most important piece of gear is your helmet.

  • It must comply with the Australian Standard AS 1968, AS/NZS 1698 or ECE Standard 22.05
  • The chin strap needs to be fastened and the helmet should be close fitting
  • A full face helmet will protect your face, jaw and chin and offers better eye, wind, sun and impact protection than an open face helmet.
Eye protection

Visors and goggles shield you from wind, rain and dust.

  • They should be clean, shatterproof and have clear lenses for night use.
Jackets and pants
  • Should be correctly fitted and completely cover the entire body
  • Secured at the wrists, waists and ankles
  • Need to be abrasion and tear resistant and provide extra reinforcement over your limbs and vulnerable areas.
Back protector

A back protector will protect your spine in the case of a crash.

  • Dual density foam is recommended.
  • Should be gauntlet style and have a reinforced palm area, knuckle protection and a Velcro/zip around the wrist.
  • Should be leather and overlap the pants.
  • Should have zipper/velcro fasteners.

Check the Motorcycle Clothing Assessment Program (MotoCAP) website before you buy. MotoCAP rates motorcycle protective gear for safety and comfort and aims to help riders make more informed decisions about their protective clothing.

Visit MotoCAP

While riding

While it’s impossible to avoid every hazardous situation, you can still take measures to ensure a safe motorcycle experience.

While it’s impossible to avoid every hazardous situation, you can still take measures to ensure a safe motorcycle experience.

Riding to conditions

Riding at night

Riding at night is considerably more dangerous for riders. You have reduced vision and it’s harder for other motorists to see you. Take extra care and:

  • wear reflective clothing
  • check your lights and indicators are working
  • reduce your speed
  • use high beams to increase your field of vision, except when you’re within 200 metres of another vehicle
  • keep extra distance from other traffic.
Riding in varying weather conditions

The following weather conditions can have a significant impact on the safety of your ride. Riding in unfavourable weather conditions is tiring, so watch for the signs of fatigue, and rest if necessary.

Bright sunshine
  • Adjust your mirrors to reduce glare
  • Be aware that motorists in front of you may have difficulty seeing you before they overtake or change lanes.
  • Avoid the temptation to follow the vehicle in front close enough to keep contact with its rear lights
  • Make sure to slow down and increase your crash avoidance space to allow yourself more time to respond.
  • Reduce your speed to allow yourself more time to respond
  • Avoid riding on painted arrows and lines as they can be slippery
  • Use low beam during the day to increase your chances of being seen.
High winds

Strong gusts which may affect the handling of your motorcycle can occur on entering or emerging from under bridges, crossing an open valley and riding into open country. These can also cause other vehicles to veer suddenly, especially high sided vehicles like trucks or buses.

  • Reduce your speed
  • Grip the handlebars correctly. It may help to lean your motorcycle into the wind to compensate for sideways force
  • Keep your speed down and create space between you and other vehicles.

Tune up your Ride Craft

Safe riding

Your beliefs and choices you make will affect how safe you are on the road. Riding requires your full concentration — your survival depends on awareness, anticipation and judgement. Factors that can increase your risk when riding include:


The way you feel when you get on your motorcycle will show up in the way you ride. Try to be mindful of your mood and behaviour on the road and try and stay impartial to other drivers exhibiting aggressive or bad behaviour.


Safe riding requires your full concentration. Do not ride if you’re impaired by:

  • fatigue
  • alcohol
  • drugs
  • dehydration
  • exposure to fumes.

The road ahead of you is constantly changing so it is important to regularly:

  • scan the road ahead
  • watch the road surface
  • monitor your left and right
  • check your mirrors and instruments.

Fit riders find it easier to stay alert on endurance rides and during physically demanding conditions.

Tune up your Ride Craft

In a crash

You should always ride low risk to minimise the potential for being involved in a crash. However, accidents do happen on the road regardless who’s at fault. If a crash becomes inevitable there are some things you can do to help reduce the consequences:

  • Stay upright for as long as possible and reduce your speed. Tyres and brakes are designed to stop your motorcycle, plastic and metal components on the side of your motorcycle aren’t. Staying upright allows you to most effectively slow down — hitting the ground at 30km/hr a bit further down the road is better than hitting it at 60km/hr
  • Keep control of your motorcycle for as long as possible and steer towards the least hazardous area. Try to avoid a head on crash, sliding into an immovable object or ending up in the path of oncoming traffic.

And if you have fallen from your motorcycle:

  • Try to relax and slide to reduce your risk of injury — sliding on your back, feet first is the best position. Avoid tucking into a ball and tumbling as this will increase your risk of broken bones. Wearing the right protective gear is vital in a crash.
  • Let go of your motorcycle – it’s likely to travel further than you in a slide so holding on will mean you also travel further.

Most importantly, always brush up your Ride Craft to make every ride as safe as possible.

Tune up your Ride Craft

Returning riders

Person on a motorbike

Been a while since your last ride? Returning riders can have a higher crash risk as skills can drop off in the intervening years. To ensure a safe return, you should check your motorcycle’s condition and consult a mechanic if needed. When purchasing a new motorcycle, consider safety features and take time to familiarise yourself with its handling and capabilities.

Before you ride again, it’s recommended that you:

  • Check your protective gear for damage and consider updating it for better protection
  • Assess your skills and start riding in low-risk situations, gradually increasing journey lengths and taking regular breaks
  • Rebuild your riding skills by participating in a refresher or advanced safe riding course.

Tune up your Ride Craft

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Safety gear ratings

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