We love that so many of you are deciding to jump back on the motorcycle after a few years out of the game. The thrill of getting back on two-wheels has returned with a vengeance. You’re excited and it’s clear to see why. Born-again bikers have some real advantages; you have more time, potentially more money and know exactly what you want from your motorcycle experience.
Understandably, you’ll also have questions too, lots of them. Motorcycles have changed, motorcycle gear has advanced tenfold and motorcycle safety has become a priority.
In this guide, our Infinity team will offer advice about how to safely get back on the open road and ensure maximum enjoyment. We’ll also look at the latest advancements in motorcycles, gear and road safety.
You’re not alone
With most retired motorcycle riders, a little voice keeps nagging them.
When you drive your car in congestion, when the sun comes out on your day off, when you see a motorcyclist whizz past you; the feeling of wishing you were in their place never goes away.
As your children fly the nest, you may find yourself with more time on your hands and money too, slowly but surely the obstacles that made you hang up your motorcycle leathers disappear.
You’re certainly not alone. Over-50s now account for 30% of all spending on motorcycles. According to a recent Saga survey, 40% of their motorcycle policies are for returning riders who are coming back to motorcycling after retiring from two-wheels years ago.
Changes to motorcycle law
There are no big motorcycle-specific road law changes to those with existing licenses. However, there have been changes to Compulsory Basic Training, better known as the CBT. This means that if your driver’s licence has expired, the test you take will be very different to the one you originally took.
The main changes to road safety over the last 30 years are to do with the other vehicles on the road. Cars are much more powerful than they used to be and there's a lot more of them on the roads. It’s now common place to see distracted drivers not concentrating and drifting across the lane. The upshot is being alert is more important than ever before.
Motorcycle safety tips for returning riders
Take a motorcycle refresher course & training
“If you’ve had a long break from riding then it’s advisable to have a refresher course. The course only takes a couple of days and most motorcycle training schools will be able to facilitate this.”
You will be surprised at just how much you’ve forgotten and how many bad habits you developed since leaving the motorcycle behind. A motorcycle refresher course will:
- Revisit good techniques
- Go over potential situations & how to deal with them
- Improve braking techniques
- Improve your cornering skills
- Review your current style of riding
- Observe your riding skills & what you’ve learnt already during the course
- Final skills assessment
It’s also worth signing up for an intermediate or advanced course too. Just to be on the safe side.
Get a health check
If you haven’t been riding for a while then it’s advisable to get a health check. Although we hate to admit it, as we get older our reaction times, eyesight and hearing deteriorates. Make sure your body’s up for the challenge before taking back to the road. Remember it’s not just about your safety, but other road users too.
Get new motorcycle gear
Gone are the days of scraping together what kit you could beg, borrow or steal. Now you’re older and wiser we suggest buying the best riding gear you can afford. High-quality kit reduces the chances of injury and protects you from the elements which makes riding more comfortable and enjoyable.
It may seem expensive initially but trust us, it will be worth it in the long run.
If you’re really reluctant to buy all new kit, at an absolute minimum, buy a new helmet. A motorcycle helmet generally has a life of around five years and chances are that yours has been stored away for longer than that. If you’ve ever dropped or knocked your helmet, throw it away immediately and get a new one.
It’s not ‘as easy as riding a bike'
Whoever coined this phrase was definitely not talking about motorcycles. Take your time and don’t feel pressured into riding in a way that you’re not comfortable with. Take it slow and get used to life on two wheels again.
Scrub up on motorcycle theory
Whether you’re a new, experienced or returning rider, ever motorcyclist should have a copy of the Official DVSA Guide to Riding - The Essential Skills Book. It’s packed with loads of useful advice to help you stay safe on the roads and keeps your knowledge fresh.
Want to take it one step further? Head over to the DVLA website and re-take a practice motorcycle theory test. If there are parts that you’re a bit rusty on, research it. There’s tonnes of information online. And that leads us on to…
Read motorcycle forums & articles
Unlike 30 years ago, these days there are thousands of motorcycle websites, forums and online articles available at your fingertips. These online resources are a great way to stay current with what's going on in motorcycling.
We recommend signing up to a couple of motorcycle forums. If you have any questions about motorcycling, you can post it on the forum and get immediate responses from experts all over the world.
It’s also a great place to hear about the latest technology, clothing and motorcycles as well as the best routes in your area.
Best motorcycle forums
Join a motorcycle club
Riding alongside experienced riders is a great way of improving your technique, building confidence and meeting like-minded people.
Riding in a group is also safer than riding solo. There’s something comforting about knowing that you’ve got someones’ back and they’ve got yours.
There are motorcycle clubs up and down the country. Take a look on the British Motorcyclists Federation to find your nearest club.
New motorcycle technology
“Motorcycle clothing and equipment has advanced massively, even within the last few years. There are some fantastic materials being used now which are strong, lightweight and waterproof.”
With the invention and advancement of technical materials over the last 40 years, we now benefit from moisture-wicking base layers, fully protective jeans and affordable GoreTex. This makes it easier than ever before to be stylish, comfortable and most of all, protected.
New safety features & armour
Motorcycle clothing manufacturers such as Bering have started producing airbag vests and jackets. The built-in airbag immediately inflates to help protect the chest and vital organs.
Motorcycle armour and back protectors have come a long way since they first appeared in the race paddocks during the early 1980s. The latest protective products from Knox show just how far they have come.
Made from the latest protective materials, Knox limb armour reduces the impact energy by between 50 – 80%. Their back protectors reduce the impact energy by as much as 94%.
Electric gloves, jackets, vests, trousers and boot liners mean that you can enjoy riding all year round and be safe and warm while doing so. Powered either by batteries or directly from the motorcycle, these heated items come with heat controllers so you can choose just how snug you want to be.
All of these advancements and innovations mean that riders are safer and better protected while having more choice in style, designs and materials.
With so many options available today, we recommend heading to your nearest Infinity store to chat about your requirements with one of our team. They will be happy to tailor an outfit that will suit your individual needs. You can also throw any questions you have directly at them.
Made from technologically advanced composite materials, today’s helmets offer more protection than ever before. They’re also lighter, aerodynamically improved and come in a huge variety or styles, colours and patterns.
The introduction of the modular or flip-front helmet in the 1990s has meant that claustrophobic riders can now enjoy the safety benefits of a full-face helmet with the convenience and comfort the flip-front helmet offers.
It’s hard to imagine a world without SatNavs and Google Maps now. Gone are the days when finding directions meant pulling over to the side of the road to check your route. SatNavs have become so advanced that companies such as TomTom are now building motorcycle-specific systems, which allow you to pick the kind of riding terrain you want on route. You choose the adventure, they’ll pick the route.
The invention of GPS trackers makes monitoring your motorcycle’s whereabouts very affordable. With no expensive annual contracts, GPS trackers are packed full of security features, including movement and shock sensors, precise location detection and GEO-fence movement restriction.
Technology has advanced to the extent that buying a high-definition action camera has become more affordable than ever. You can now capture your ride, self-assess your own riding skills and even collect invaluable pieces of evidence in the event of a road traffic accident.
Motorcycle intercom advancements over the last 10 years allow riders to communicate easier than ever before. Through Bluetooth connection you can speak to your pillion, connect with other riders, receive sat nav instructions, listen to music or take and receive calls while riding.
Many of the biggest differences between modern motorcycles and motorcycles from 30 years ago are invisible to the naked eye. The evolution of tyres allows amazing levels of grip, fuel injection makes cold starts more manageable, and suspension advancements have improved tenfold.
As any rider knows, stopping a motorcycle isn't as simple as stopping a car. Most bikes have separate brake controls for the front and rear wheels and either wheel can lock up during hard braking.
With the introduction of ABS and anti-lock technology, riders can brake fully without fear of locking up which is perfect for those un-planned situations.
As well as the introduction of LED bulbs, many motorcycles today are built with headlights which turn with the riders. This keep the portion of the road where the bike is headed always illuminated.
Companies such as Volo are getting even more advanced, having introduced brake light indicators that light up whenever the motorcycle slows down, not just when the brake is applied, reducing the risk of tail end collisions and increasing following distance.
Best motorcycles for returning riders
“There’s no right or wrong here. It’s all about what the individual wants from their machine. If it puts a ‘smile on your dial’ then it’s the right bike. Simple.”
Although you’ve probably got a bit more deposable cash that before, we’d advise against going for the fastest and heaviest bike money can buy when first returning to motorcycling.
If you’re looking for a motorcycle that’s reliable and reasonable to service, we’d recommend:
- Yamaha MT07
- Yamaha MT07 Tracer
- Yamaha XSR 700
- Yamaha YZF-R3
With so many options available, our expert staff at Infinity Clapham Yamaha dealership will be able to advise you on the best motorcycle for you.
Tips for returning riders from our Infinity team
Nigel from Infinity Clapham warns riders of the most common day-to-day hazards you’ll experience on the road.
- Manhole covers
- Pedestrians on their phones not looking out for motorbikes
- Taxis and buses randomly pulling out or U-turning with no signal
- Dark mornings and evenings – always wear your high viz!
Winter brings more hazards with it including falling leaves, wet greasy roads and dangerous black ice. Take care and stay alert.”
Share your experience! Pass your refreshed experience on to other returning riders.
And, most importantly have fun but take care out there.
Motorcycle clothing & advice from Infinity Motorcycles
Infinity Motorcycles is a leading motorcycle clothing and accessories store. Online and with 14 shops around the country, Infinity Motorcycles is the place to go to get the world’s most renowned brands and the best prices. We can also offer a fantastic 0% finance option to help spread the cost. looking for new kit or advice about getting back into motorcycling, our knowledgeable and experienced team are on hand.