Reproduced with permission from ACC
Good Riding Habits
It is important you have a thorough knowledge of the way your bike operates before you start riding it. When you are familiar with it, you are more likely to know when something is wrong and how to go about fixing it.
To develop good riding habits you should:
- Read the operator's manual and become familiar with the controls, especially when riding a new or different bike.
- Wear clothing which is protective and not restrictive. A long-sleeved shirt is vital. Footwear also needs to be protective. Sturdy boots with reinforced toecaps and sides are ideal. It is also important to wear a helmet.
- Clean your bike regularly, so you can quickly spot any maintenance needs. However, when cleaning your bike avoid directing high-pressure hoses at the bearings, as this can cause unnecessary mechanical problems.
- Follow the regular maintenance programme from the operator's manual, especially for brakes, footrests and controls.
- When learning to ride a farm bike, or adjusting to a new one, you shod do so in a clear open space. Having to learn new skills requires concentration and takes time, so you won't want to have to avoid obstacles or negotiate slopes at the same time.
When you are riding, there are a number of techniques you should use to make sure you are minimising the risk of injury. These techniques are especially important when riding on hills.
- Look ahead of you and check for obstacles.
- Keep your feet on the footrests to help keep the bike stable. When one foot is removed from a footrest a noticeable "imbalance" occurs, possibly causing the bike to slide or fall. Balancing on the footrests improves all parts of riding and is an essential part of good riding technique.
- Concentrate on riding the bike - it is your main task. If you need to look at stock or examine something else, you should stop.
- Learn how to correctly stop and get started on hills.
- When riding farm bikes, keep your body and bike movements as smooth as possible.
When stopping uphill:
- Put down only your left foot (to the ground), apply the rear and front brakes and pull in the clutch; then
- Pivot the bike around your left foot by easing the brakes, to bring the bike to a standstill across the hillside.
- Move off slowly, using second gear if you are going downhill.
- Negotiating slopes successfully is a critical part of riding farm bikes. When riding on steep or rough round it is especially important for you to move and use your bodyweight to influence the stability of the farm bike. This is called "active riding", and is normally best achieved in a standing position with knees bent, but weight carried on the footrest.
When riding downhill:
- Move your body rearwards so that your bodyweight helps keep the bike stable.
- Choose second or third gear; never first. This will help hold the bike in check without fishtailing.
- If you need to stop or slow down, use the front brake more that the rear.
When riding uphill:
- Move your body forward when riding uphill. This reduces the chance of the bike overbalancing and flipping.
- The steeper the slope, the more you will need to move your bodyweight forward. Stand with bent legs with some weight on the handlebars and the rest on the footrests.
- Use as high a gear as the bike will pull. Low gears create wheel spin. Select the correct gear before making the climb.
- If you stand on the footrests rather than sit on the seat, it maintains better tyre grip.
When riding across a slope:
- When you are cornering or riding along the side of a hill, press harder on the outside (downhill) footrest. This keeps your weight distribution directly on top of the tyre treads where the grip is important.