Regardless of age and experience, all motorcyclists can benefit from brushing up on skills and techniques.
It's a worrying thought that there are thousands of older motorcyclists out there on the roads who have never had to attend any kind of riding course. Back in the 1970s, obtaining a motorcycle licence in most states was just a matter of spending a period of time on 'L' plates and then answering a few questions before driving around for a few kilometres with a police motorcyclist following behind and observing you.
Advanced skills courses for experienced riders
How much can you teach yourself? The answer to this question is related to how interested you are in learning. Consider car drivers. Perhaps a majority never attend any kind of driving course once having obtained their licence. Conventional wisdom within the advanced driving community is that experience may teach you some things but it often results in the consolidation of bad habits.
To get a motorcycle licence now, you have to pass a more rigorous test. But further courses are an excellent idea. Even a one-day program should bring a significant improvement in the average rider's skill level.
Theory is important to motorcycling, perhaps even more than it is to car driving. I have heard of very 'experienced' riders saying that they never use the front brake of the bike for fear of locking up the wheel or going over the handlebars. Interesting that, because motorcycle racers place far more dependence on the front brake than the rear. Why? Because the front brake is many times more powerful. The secret of course is in how you apply the brake - smoothly and gradually. Road riders should use both brakes together but in an emergency stop it will be the front brake that makes the far greater contribution. Those who advocate not using the front brake have not understood anything much about motorcycle riding theory.
Countersteering might sound complicated but it's the same technique you use automatically when riding a pushbike. If you want to turn right, you push on the right side of the bars. To turn left you push on the left bar. The bike - regardless of whether it has a 1.5-litre engine or relies on person power - leans appropriately into the corner. Why it's called countersteering is because you might feel as if you are steering the wrong way. One important way of improving your skills in the early years is to apply this technique consciously. Many motorcyclists come to grief because they have not steered the bike sufficiently to take a corner that turned out to be tighter than they expected.
The importance of distance vision
Vision is at the heart of all driving and riding. Look as far down the road as you can. Rely on peripheral vision to tell you what's happening in the immediate foreground. Try this simple test. Sit in a chair and look into the distance. Now move one of your hands over your knees. You can see it, can't you? You don't need to be able to inspect the fingernails or read your watch to register the presence of a moving object. Now try it in reverse. Look down at your hand. Can you see into the distance?
But the best advice is to book yourself in for an advanced riding lesson.