Riding in heavy traffic with motorcycles requires a disciplined mindset and skills to maneuver through the heavy and different modes of traffic easily. While with two-wheeler vehicles it’s easy to ride and get away from bigger vehicles. But motorcycle riders need to know some basic skills and tips to drive safely in heavy traffics.
Here are the crucial skills you need while driving a motorcycle in heavy traffic:
- Clutch and Gear Management
- Keep your hands on Brakes
- Maintain a safe distance with bigger vehicles
- Always Scan the traffic earlier
- Ready to overtake in traffic at the right time
- Use Indicators and Mirrors
- Be Patient and Disciplined
- Be Aware of the other vehicles on the highways
- Practice makes perfect
First, we’ll discuss the different types of traffic modes and then we’ll also discuss the right way to ride in the situation or traffic modes.
Here the below data has been taken from tomtom.com where the red circle indicates the highly congested cities with the traffic and the green circle indicates the less congested cities with the vehicles.
Red circles with numbers show that the city is highly congested with vehicles resulting in heavy traffics. While green circles denote the lightest traffic in the city,
Here are the skills you should have to ride safely in heavy traffic:-
In this section I will talk about the important things that you should take care while driving in high traffic.
Clutch and Gear Management
It’s important to correctly use the clutch and gear to drive in the congested stop-and-go heavy traffic. You should ride the motorcycle with 1st and 2nd gear in heavy traffic. Driving a motorcycle in a higher gear is totally dumb in heavy traffic congestion because higher gears are made to take motorcycle to higher speed.
That’s the reason motorcycles are equipped with speed transmission upto 6 gears to drive in a controlled manner or acceleration in different situations.
So, you must ride under third gear in traffic while I will recommend you driving between the first and second gear in heavy traffic congestion.
There are many people who repeat one mistake which is they press and hold the clutch lever half always while changing gear or pressing the brake or even just for riding.
Apart from this, there are some people who twist their acceleration handle too much while holding the clutch lever. These acts can decrease and damage the clutch plate life or the clutch plate, so make sure to not repeat these mistakes again and again.
In short there are three things that you need to take care about clutch while riding in heavy traffics:-
- Always press the clutch lever full before shifting the gear or applying the brake.
- Ensure that you are pressing the clutch lever fully because sometimes people shift gears etc while pulling the clutch lever half which is not a good habit.
- Never accelerate the motorcycle while holding the clutch lever it may cause damage to the clutch plate.
Pressing the clutch before changing gears or applying the brake helps the motorcycle engine to keep running. If you shift the gear without using the clutch, your motorcycle engine may stop and you will have to turn on the motorcycle again.
Always be ready to brake in required situations
In heavy traffic, it is important to keep the focus on your brakes. Always be ready to break because in heavy traffic no one can know when the front vehicle will apply the brake or stop suddenly.
Motorcyclists should be aware of bigger vehicles like cars, trucks, SUVs, Buses, etc in traffic because these bigger vehicles don’t have an effective and instant braking system like motorcycles. Thus make sure to not ride ahead of any bigger vehicles, if you do then make sure you don’t brake unnecessarily.
It is safe to ride a motorcycle behind bigger vehicles like buses, trucks, etc because then the situation is in your control. But if you ride ahead of any bigger vehicle then you are always at risk.
So, makes sure to maintain distance of 10 m with bigger vehicles and ready to brake if required.
One of the best ways to apply emergency braking on a motorcycle is applying both the brakes once while holding the clutch lever. Now, it’s important to hold the clutch before applying the brake to keep up the engine running. Otherwise, if you applied the brake without pressing the clutch lever, your motorcycle will stop and it may also affect the engine parts.
The enhancement and improvement with the braking system like ABS have improved the breaking. Because of ABS, the braking distance has been decreased on dry and slippery surfaces.
In this post, I have talked about different types of braking systems in motorcycles and their enhancements over time. Make sure to check the article.
Never drive in high-speed behind the larger vehicles
Never drive motorcycles at high speed behind big vehicles because you are more prone to get into trouble if they break suddenly.
Two-wheeler vehicles for instance motorcycles, scooters, etc are the most vulnerable ones in the traffics. There are various other types of vehicles like Buses, cars, trucks, ambulances, etc are comparatively bigger and safer than two-wheeler vehicles.
That’s why it’s important to maintain at least a 10 m distance from these vehicles. And make sure you drive in the economy and controlled acceleration. This means only riding with an acceleration of 30 to 40 kmph which is the safest. So that you can able to apply emergency instant breaking if the bigger vehicles in front of you stopped suddenly because of any reason.
Always scan the traffic earlier
This is one of the crucial steps required that will help you to move through the traffic easily. Scanning the traffic earlier means not limiting your sight and awareness to just your limited surroundings but rather expanding it to the far your eyesight can reach.
Look far and scan the overall congestion of the traffic that will help you to preplan your move.
Because there are some people who only focus on their limited surroundings and don’t know the situation ahead which can put them in trouble. So make sure to scan the traffic; like look in the mirror to scan the backward traffic and look forward to knowing the condition of front traffic. This scanning thing will help you to preplan your move consciously or unconsciously.
Overtaking in traffic in right time
As you have scanned the traffic now you know the overall situation that can help you to overtake and let you out of the traffic. Sometimes overtaking in the traffic can save you from the heavy traffic but if the right decision is taken at the right time.
Here are tips that’ll help you to overtake in the heavy traffics:-
- Have a clear and concise sight of the front vehicles and their overall position. Also, have a track of the behind vehicle with the help of the rear mirror view.
- Overtaking safely requires skill, patience, and a sixth sense of the rider that in combination gives you the perfect getaway.
- The sixth sense includes sensing the other riders’ future movement using your experience and perception which will eventually be developed as you ride daily.
- Now, with the right amount of acceleration and planning you can easily and safely overtake vehicles in traffic.
Use Indicators and Mirrors
Always use the directional indicators while changing the lane or direction on a motorcycle. It gives the signal or indicator and warns the behind vehicles about your move. This helps you and other vehicles ride safely and provides the move of the vehicles around you.
While there are also some riders and drivers who don’t care about using the direction indicator which results in accidents of vehicles. So make sure you don’t become the victim of accidents because of not using the indicators and mirror properly.
Be Patient and Disciplined
To get out from the traffic easily you need to be patient and disciplined which is the required skill. If you are in stop-and-go traffic or slow-going traffic you need to be patient. I have seen some people who are stuck in heavy traffic but they don’t stop accelerating there.
These riders just don’t stop twisting their throttle and there is no meaning in doing this. It will just burn your fuel for nothing. So, be patient in traffic and discipline. And make the move as you see any road clearance.
Be Aware of the other vehicles on the highways
You may have noticed or experienced before like you were driving with ease and calm suddenly a car crossed or motorcycle came in front of you and you got hit. This is the case for many people who get into an accident where they find they didn’t break the traffic rules or made any wrong action, still they get into the trouble of accident. The reason for these accidents is not your fault, rather it is the fault of other drivers who don’t know how to drive properly.
So, I am saying always have a mindset that drivers around you are inexperienced and they don’t have experience of riding. I am not saying that there is a lack of experienced riders, but more inexperienced drivers abate the number.
Now, this mindset will help you in many ways like you will keep your distance from most of the vehicles around you and your hands will always be on the brakes for emergency braking.
Practice makes perfect
If you have read all the above tips of mind then here is the last one. There only one thing that is going to help you is your experience which comes with practice. As you ride your motorcycle daily, you will get experience and habits, which will help you cope with the situation.
Because it doesn’t matter the number of tips or suggestions you read on blogs or watch youtube videos. These articles or resources will be of no help to you until you ride the motorcycle in heavy traffic by yourself.
Thus, to ride a motorcycle safely in any traffic, you will have to get out of your home and ride. And don’t worry if you are human you will make mistakes and that’s what we are here for, to help you. If you followed this whole article, I can guarantee that 80% of the mistakes will be simply avoided. And the rest is upto you, how you apply this information/resources in a real situation around you.
How to ride a motorcycle in stop and go traffic?
The first thing to take care of while driving in stop-and-go traffic is gear management. So, I have shared some tips/rules to ride a motorcycle in stop-and-go traffic below.
#Tip 1:- In stop and go traffic where the vehicles are traveling a bit and then stops. So, in this situation, the motorcycle riders need to take care of one thing that is gear management.
You should ride your motorcycle in between 1st and 2nd gear these are the speed transmission made to drive at low speed and in traffic congestion. The benefits of riding the motorcycle in this gear will limit your speed even though you accelerate. If you will accelerate, it may start to make a sound that you can easily notice if you ride the motorcycle for some time. When the motorcycle makes a buzzing sound then you can switch to the second gear. And drive in between these gear till you have not got the freeway or empty road to drive in speed.
#Tip 2:- In stop-and-go traffic you should take care of is braking. We don’t know when the front vehicle will apply sudden braking. So, your hands should always be ready to apply the instant brake in the required situation.
To brake and stop your motorcycle instantly make sure you apply both the front and rear brakes at the same time. And also not forget to press the clutch before braking.
#Tip 3:- Keep your vision wide. Make sure you analyze the traffic well around you. Although in stop and go traffic there is no way to get road clearance easily. But as you will be riding with a motorcycle you can maneuver through little spaces also. Make sure that you analyzed the vehicle’s position before taking a final move.
#Tip 4:- If you are somehow stuck behind the bigger vehicles in heavy traffic like trucks, buses, etc. Then make sure to maintain a proper distance from the bigger vehicles. Motorcyclists are more prone to get hurt if anything wrong happens. Bigger vehicles can’t notice small motorcyclists even though you are using your horn until you are visible to them in the mirrors.
And in traffic, the vehicles can brake at any time and if you were driving very close to the vehicles then there is a high chance that you might get imbalanced.
Which motorcycle gear to use in heavy traffic ?
Motorcycle riders should use 1st to 2nd gear while driving in heavy traffic. This range of gear allows riders to have more control over the motorcycle to get through the heavy traffic easily.
Apart from this, if you thought to drive in heavy traffic in high gear then the acceleration will be more which will require you for constant hard braking, and sometimes you may end up hitting the front vehicles and injuring yourself and your motorcycle.
Thus, make sure to ride your motorcycle between 1st to 2nd gear in heavy traffic and change gears and acceleration as you get road clearance.
How to use motorcycle clutch in traffic?
Clutch is the most important thing that needs to be used frequently in heavy traffic. Your hands should always be on the clutch and press it whenever you are applying brakes or shifting/changing the gear.
These are the only work where the motorcycle clutch is always used so make sure you use the clutch effectively.
Another reason for the clutch to be pressed while braking is that it keeps the engine running. Otherwise, if you pressed the brake without pressing the clutch lever, your motorcycle engine will stop, resulting in extra effort to turn on the engine again.
How to drive a scooter in heavy traffic?
Driving a scooter and motorcycle requires mostly the same skill and process that we discussed above briefly. But with the scooter, there is only one thing that makes it distinctive: its automated transmission system. So, there is no clutch and gear system to deal with; while driving.
The only thing that needs to be taken care of with a scooter is its acceleration. The amount you twist the throttle is the important thing.
So, with a scooter, you just need to practice and take care of the scooter’s acceleration and braking. And the rest is handling the scooter, which is easy to learn and do because of its light-weightiness.
Do loud exhaust help?
Loud exhaust doesn’t help in heavy traffic because there are lots of vehicles on the road which sound in combination is a huge noise. So, your exhaust will only be noticeable to the few people behind you. In traffic, the best practice to make aware of drivers about your presence is using the horn. Although, in heavy traffic, there is no guarantee anyone would notice you in heavy congestion even with the horn.