Pete the Free teaches his grannie to suck eggs part two. Many links in the text.


To me half the fun of riding is acquiring a target (cager), zeroing in and then blowing away. All done in the best possible taste of course. It is, though, a high risk activity. Interestingly head on collisions between bikes and cars are relatively unusual as a bike will often fit between two cars (as illustrated in one of the following videos). However, when they do occur they are devastating. Because of the narrow nature of a bike, it's agility and it's power, bikers as a group often get away with perfectly dreadful overtakes. Nonetheless, it is not hard to apply a few simple rules that make overtaking smoother and safer.

The main errors I see are: -

1 Poor observation, anticipation and planning.
2. Following through on someone else's overtake (trusting their planning).
3. Over anxious and hence rushed overtakes (presumably to "keep up").
4. Floating around the back of the target vehicle "like a bee round a honeypot".

1. Always be looking as far ahead as possible, but don't forget rear observation, a faster (but not necessarily safer) rider may be about to overtake YOU, this is why you should consider a life saver before each overtake. What can you see? What can't you see? (Is a large vehicle obscuring your view of other traffic?) What can you reasonably expect to happen? (I saw the three riders approaching and guess they would all follow through on the overtake which is why I pull over to the left.)
2. Never, ever, trust someone else's assessment. They are not planning (if they are planning at all) YOUR overtake. (Three riders. Rider number one snatches overtake, rider number two follows through and nearly becomes the jam in a car sandwich, rider number three has to abort getting very close to the car then swoops around.)
3. There is no spoon. No rush I mean. When we ride in groups we tend to make sure no one gets lost, so take your time.
4. Remember the triangle of death, it is called that for a reason. Actually I call it the quadrangle of death, that's 'cos I'm a pedant. See below.

The triangle of death.

If the overtake is not on, follow at two seconds. As you anticipate an overtake developing then move up, never crossing the "hypotenuse", to the pre-overtake position. If the overtake is not on, drop back. If the overtake IS on then move to the overtake position THEN overtake firmly and in a straight line to your chosen position in front of the target vehicle. This shows any oncoming vehicles the side of your bike which will tend to make them feel more confident that you are not going to hit them. This whole process avoids the no go zone behind the car, does away with "swooped" overtakes and will make you, the target vehicle and any oncoming traffic more comfortable with the whole process. Once in the overtake position if the situation changes and you need to abort the overtake simply shut the throttle and move back to the pre-overtake position and then the following position.

The overtake.

This is the three phase overtake. You are never exposed in the triangle of death. You have two chances to abort the overtake from the pre-overtake and the overtake positions. The straight line accelaration allows you to use up to the maximum amount of power available thus reducing your exposure whilst overtaking, also there is no risk of drifting wide as in a "swooped" overtake. The re-entry point has hopefully been selected BEFORE the overtake was even begun. This is a clean, planned, safe overtake. This is IWoo if I remember correctly. A nice approach from the following position to the pre-overtake position. A straight drive across the corner with re-entry point also being the turn in point for the left hand bend.

Clips from 2 overtakes in quick succession.

Following position

Pre-overtake position

Overtake position (about to start the drive for the gap between the two cars hence then lean angle).

Pre-overtake position

Overtake position

Clip from which these images came Listen for the throttle opening AFTER the overtake position is reached.

Overtaking on bends requires careful planning but is perfectly possible and safe when done correctly. The camera angle on most of these videos does NOT give my full view.

Overtake on a left hand bend. This requires a good long look at the road you expect to be riding on AFTER the overtake. Observing for a while will let you know that there is no approaching traffic and there will be no vehicle in the road you cannot see (behind the target vehicle).

Overtake on right hand bend. Second overtake on straight, brief pause to check safety but no need to pull in. Right hand bend overtakes are easy if you are in the pre-overtake position in time. You will get a clear view of the road past the target vehicle and are in the correct postion to commence the overtake.

Overtake using right hand bend for view past target.

Where there are double white lines they often come to an end after a bend, so observation and anticipation are key to making progress.

When making a series of overtakes in traffic try to time your arrival in the pre-overtake position so there is only a brief pause before adopting the overtake position (reduces exposure). All speed control should be by the throttle, it shouldn't be necessary to brake between vehicles. I showed this video to CtC and these were his comments "Last video ... Over take 1 by right vehicle access; Overtake of lorry approaching junction on left. IAM fail !!!" Now I could have replaced this with a cleaner example but I think these points are very well worth discussing. They are exactly the issues I would have brought up with an IAM associate, when I was still doing that thing. However, there is a difference between associate level riding and observer level riding. I have to say an IAM pass is a darn sight better than nothing but a long way from excellent. The first overtake was completed before the car could possibly have turned right into the junction. The junction was empty, i.e. nothing waiting to come out, and traffic coming the other way would have prevented a right hand turn anyway. Similarly the junction on the left after the lorry was empty, also had there been traffic (which would have made me hesitate) there is no way it could have got in front of me in the gap between the lorry and the car in front. However, these assessments MUST be made. Careless overtakes by junctions are very dangerous. More riders are killed at junctions than on corners according to the last set of figures I studied. Do you think this rider saw the truck approaching the junction on the right? There could have been other lower vehicles in front of the truck. If they turned left they would NOT have expected to have a bike on their side of the road.

Overtaking in the twisties. It is possible to overtake even in a very tight series of bends. The key is planning and anticipating opportunities - usually on right hand bends. Correct gear selection enables firm accelaration without which this is not usually possible. The selected entry point after the overtake will often be the turn in point for the next bend.

Overtakes on single track roads. Be confident, be decisive, be quick! Many drivers will pull to the left and leave more than enough room to slip past.

Overtaking your fellow biker. Any overtake should be courteous, but overtaking other bikers particularly so. Preferably give them plenty of warning by positioning yourself in their right mirror then pull past giving a reasonably wide berth. Do not blast past without warning 6 inches from their right shoulder. It is unfriendly. I did not follow through the first overtake as I thought that was unfriendly enough, the second overtake is very poor. See how the person being overtaken pulls to the left in alarm.

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Quick Quacks Pete the Free

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