Speed affects almost every aspect of riding, from braking and cornering to overtaking and how your pillion feels about the ride. Gauging the right speed for any situation is a critical part of roadcraft.

How speed increases risk

A safe speed in one place can be incredibly dangerous in another. So speed is relative to the situation. But the fact remains that an increase in speed has an exponential effect.

For example, doubling your speed will increase your stopping distance by a factor of four or even five.

The consequences of impact also grow quickly, from inconsequential to painful to almost certainly fatal.

The right speed

Every situation has a correct speed, one that let’s you make good progress, allows you to take in the situation and cope with the unexpected. The rule of thumb is that you must be able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear. Even so, unexpected things can happen and you need to have a margin to cope.

Always ask yourself, ‘What if?’. What if there’s an animal behind that hedge and it jumps out? What if the road around the corner is covered in mud or diesel? What if the corner tightens, or someone is stopped on the road?

The need for speed

Speed, or certainly acceleration, can ensure you can get out of potentially dangerous situations quickly.

Overtaking is a prime example. Once you’ve committed to an overtake you want to get it done in as short a time as possible. The fast acceleration of most motorcycles is welcome here. 

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