The acceleration, high viewpoint and agility of a motorcycle mean you can make good progress through traffic. But passing other vehicles, and being passed, is always a source of potential danger.

Overtaking essentials

Memorise the ‘4P Principle’:


For the best view of the road beyond the vehicle you are about to overtake. You should be in the right gear to accelerate, ready to go. Check mirrors. If all looks clear, indicate right.

Pull out

After a quick ‘lifesaver’ glance to your right, use your indicators to indicate your intent. Do not accelerate until you have pulled out and confirmed that the road ahead is clear. If it’s not, you can slip back into position. If you are already accelerating you may be too close to the vehicle in front, and travelling too fast, to get back in.


Don’t hang about. Get the overtake done as quickly as you can, using brisk acceleration.

Pull in

Make sure you are well clear of the vehicle you have passed, indicate left and move in. Job done. Set your speed and select the correct gear. 

Never forget

  • Ask yourself ‘Is it really necessary to overtake the vehicle in front?’
  • Know where you will end the overtake before you start it
  • Pause to judge the speed of any oncoming vehicle before you pass. You need to be able to pass and pull back in safely before coming within 100 metres of it
  • If an overtake opportunity seems imminent close up to a one second gap, as soon as it looks unlikely drop back to normal following distance
  • Keep well clear of any vehicle you're passing - over to the far side of the overtaking lane. If the vehicle pulls out, you’ll have more time to react and you’re less likely to be hit
  • Passing a line of closely following vehicles is best avoided. One may not have seen you and decide to pull out. And don’t force other vehicles to make room for you to pull back in
  • Don't follow cars or other large vehicles while they pass. Allow them to pass and pull back in before you start your manoeuvre
  • Never pass alongside a right hand turn or ‘Y’ junction. The vehicle you’re passing may turn into it without warning
  • Never pass where there's an intersection, side road or rest area ahead– oncoming traffic may pull out
  • Be cautious passing other riders. They may not have spotted you, may not expect to be passed or take it as a challenge to race

Passing large vehicles

Large vehicles push a big hole in the air. Give them a wide berth to limit the possibility of being sucked into their right rear corner.

Never pass around a left-hand curve, because you can't see far enough ahead. Wait for a straight or a right-hand curve.

Use the maneuverability of your motorcycle to gain views along either side of the vehicle to ensure you the full picture before commencing the overtake.

Passing in the rain

Pass only when the road is straight, and preferably in a passing lane. Use your ‘Pull out’ to check the road surface you are about to pass on for slippery patches or standing water, as well as oncoming vehicles.

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