Ride often enough and you’ll come to view moving cars as dangerous, rolling roadblocks. Motorcyclists have two great advantages over automobiles—acceleration and maneuverability. Smart riders use both to their best interests.
BE DECISIVE The key to proper overtaking is to execute the maneuver as quickly as is safe. When ahead of or behind the car, you’re relatively safe, but when you’re beside the other vehicle you’re vulnerable and have fewer collision-avoidance options. Don’t speed up when you’ve pulled beside the car; instead, make the decision to pass, indicate, and then begin to accelerate while you’re still far behind the vehicle. Downshifting allows your bike to accelerate faster, but you don’t want to have to upshift in the middle of your pass. Choose a gear that’s low enough for aggressive engine response but that still lets you finish the pass.
BE AWARE Avoid passing in intersections, and be extra careful in areas with lots of driveways or side roads on the passing side. Why? If the car wanders into your lane, runs wide, or decides to change lanes or pull into a driveway, you need to have a way out already in mind. When you begin your pass, look for an escape route if the car changes direction.
BE CAREFUL Watch the driver’s mirrors and front wheels—these often hint at a turn a split second before the driver changes lanes. Be particularly careful if the driver seems distracted by things like texting or talking on the phone, eating, or other non-driving activities.