Overtaking with Horsepower and Horses

Overtaking – surely it’s just a case of getting past someone travelling slowly and carrying on your journey, isn’t it?

Bikes can be great for overtaking as they don’t take up as much space as cars and they often have rapid acceleration. However, there are a number of things to consider before attempting an overtake.

Only ever attempt to overtake when you’re sure you have somewhere safe to return to on your side of the road – waiting until you’re in the middle of the road to choose a gap, or forcing your way back in, is never advised.

Motorcycle Roadcraft, the police rider’s handbook, highlights three main stages when overtaking: the follow position, the overtake position and then overtaking itself.

Follow Position

The follow position is where you should be planning and extending your observations. Try to match the speed of the vehicle you're intending to overtake.

Overtake Position

For the overtake position, get into a position to further extend your observations and plan a safe gap to move in to. Generally, position your bike towards the offside rear corner of the vehicle in front but avoid sitting in the blind spot of any vehicle.


Once you know it is safe with no hazards ahead, behind or to the side of you, indicate to let other road users know your intentions and proceed with the overtake. Make sure you know what is happening all around you and ensure that you have your safe gap to return in to once you have completed the manoeuvre.

Overtaking doesn’t always involve higher speeds. You may need to regularly overtake parked vehicles where it's vital to constantly be aware of doors opening, vehicles moving off and emerging pedestrians.

Please be particularly aware, and considerate, of horses and their riders. If you are approaching horse riders and would like to overtake, be patient and give the rider time to find a gateway or other place at the side of the road where there should be enough space between the horse and your bike to allow you to pass safely.

If you do come across horses:

  • Please slow down and be prepared to stop
  • Keep well back
  • Never rev your engine or sound your horn
  • Pass slow and wide, at no more than 15mph - but only when it's safe to do so

Points to Consider

  • Never overtake when you can’t see far enough ahead to be sure it’s safe
  • Avoid causing other road users to adjust their course or speed
  • Be ready to abandon an overtake if a hazard comes in to view

Friday, 19 October 2018