Steering and manoeuvring

To steer your motorbike around bends, you’ll need to use the throttle and the steering, and lean the motorbike. Using these together takes practice.

Before you start your journey, put your hands on the handlebars to check you can comfortably work the controls. Adjust the hand controls if necessary.

If you’re carrying an extra load, such as a pillion passenger, the motorbike will handle differently when you’re steering. You’ll need to adjust the way you ride so you can steer safely.

Adverse camber

A road with adverse camber slopes downwards towards the outside of a corner. This can make your motorbike less stable because of

  • the increased angle between the tyre and the road surface
  • the road sloping away from the direction of the turn.

You’ll need to reduce your speed and how far you lean your motorbike when riding a bend with adverse camber.


Being able to manoeuvre your motorbike accurately is an important part of riding: you need to be able to guide your motorbike exactly where you need it.

Before you start to manoeuvre your motorbike, you need to check it’s

  • safe – is there enough room; can you see where you’re going?
  • convenient – other road users should not have to slow down or change course to avoid you.

Always use the Observation – Signal – Manoeuvre/Position – Speed – Look (OSM/PSL) routine to make sure you can manoeuvre safely.

  • Observation: use your mirrors and look behind you to check blind spots.
  • Signal: give a signal if it will help other road users understand what you’re doing.
  • Manoeuvre: carry out the manoeuvre using:
    Position: move into the correct position on the road in good time to make the manoeuvre.
    Speed: adjust your speed so you can make the manoeuvre safely.
    Look: keep looking ahead and around you for possible dangers, such as other road users or pedestrians.

You’ll need to use the clutch, throttle and brakes carefully while you’re manoeuvring to keep your motorbike under control at slow speeds. Avoid using the throttle, brakes and steering suddenly or harshly because this will make it difficult to carry out the manoeuvre correctly and you could end up getting in the way of other road users.

For some manoeuvres, you’ll need to wheel your motorbike rather than riding it: make sure you practise doing this before you take your motorbike out on the road.

You should be able to

  • make a U-turn
  • turn in the road.

If you’re unsure about how to do these manoeuvres, speak to your trainer or take a look at The Official DVSA Guide to Riding – the essential skills.

Never make a U-turn

  • on a motorway
  • in a one-way street
  • where there’s a ‘no U-turn’ road sign.

If you need to brake suddenly to avoid a hazard

  • keep your motorbike upright – do not try to brake while cornering
  • shut the throttle
  • use the front brake just before the rear
  • use the right amount of braking on each wheel, depending on the road and weather conditions.


Avoid coasting: this is when your motorbike is moving but it’s not being driven by the engine – either when the clutch pedal is held in or the gear lever is in neutral. If your motorbike is coasting, you have less control over it; doing this while you’re travelling downhill will mean you’ll quickly pick up speed, and you’ll then need to brake harder than should have been necessary.


Skidding is when tyres lose their grip on the road surface and veer off course. It can be caused by a number of different factors including

  • heavy or uncoordinated braking, which locks one or both wheels
  • too much acceleration, causing the rear wheel to spin
  • swerving
  • leaning over too far when cornering, causing one or both tyres to lose grip.

To avoid skidding

  • do not accelerate suddenly or harshly
  • do not brake harshly
  • do not brake while cornering
  • watch out for slippery road surfaces and keep your speed down if you think the road is slippery
  • use engine braking as well as the brakes to slow the motorbike down
  • keep your motorbike in good condition – brakes that are in poor condition can snatch or pull unevenly, which can cause skidding.

If your motorbike begins to skid because you’ve accelerated too quickly

  • steer in the direction that your machine is sliding
  • ease off the throttle.

To stop a skid caused by braking

  • do not try to brake harder
  • release the brakes so the wheels can start turning again
  • reapply the brakes as firmly as you can in the road conditions.

If your motorbike skids when you’re cornering or changing direction

  • steer in the direction that your machine is sliding
  • keep your feet on the footrests: trying to put your feet on the ground could upset your balance.

Engine braking can be useful when you’re riding in slippery conditions because the motorbike is less likely to skid under engine braking than when using the brakes.


The weather, road surface and traffic conditions have a much bigger effect on the safety of a motorbike than on a car because

  • as a rider, you have little protection from the weather
  • motorbikes are less stable than cars as they only have 2 wheels in contact with the ground.

So, it’s very important to think about the conditions you’re going to be riding in before you start your journey.

In particular, you might want to avoid riding in conditions that will make you particularly vulnerable such as

  • wet, icy, foggy or windy weather
  • very heavy traffic.

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