Filtering Part 1 – Congestion and Speed

The Get Cornering motorcycle training centre explains filtering, the myths and the truth. The truth about filtering starts with making decisions about what you can see and what you can’t see. What you can and can’t see is also affected by the weather and the visibility through your visor come rain or shine. Riding with your headlight on to be seen is a good idea, as is wearing brighter clothing.

Think about what you might expect to happen or what you might expect not to happen. In other words filtering needs to be planned.

The ‘What if’? comes from experience, coaching and practice. There’s far too much to consider that we can sensibly put in writing here. This section is about giving you a structure to work from rather than trying to teach you anything and everything about filtering.

The Golden Rule

Maybe you are, or maybe you aren’t familiar with the golden rule of riding. “Always ride at a speed that you can stop well within the distance you can see to be clear, and on your own side of the road”. Let’s go for it again…”Always ride at a speed that you can stop well within the distance you can see to be clear, and on your own side of the road”. Keep it in your mind forever for all riding that you do.

The Choice is Yours

Once we use that golden rule we are virtually home and dry providing your assessment of ‘What if’? is accurate. And therein lies a whole lot of opportunities for information to be misinterpreted. It is the assessment you make that is key to your decision to filter or not.

A more experienced rider may make a better decision or they may not. They may make an over confident decision or be too hasty because they’ve done it a thousand times before. Whatever decision you make though, unless you are being coached in radio contact with a skilled trainer, it must be yours and yours alone. If you are not happy filtering, then don’t do it.


One of the great reasons for riding a motorbike is to overcome the problems of congestion on the roads. Notwithstanding the pollution, anxiety, delays and the general frustration caused by making a 5 mile journey slower than a walk. The world seems to stand still in a car and I do wonder how people ever get round to doing anything.

Motorists Behaviour Towards You

The freedom that comes with riding a motorbike can come with some penalties. Not all motorists, or dogs, understand or accept why motorcyclists can filter whilst they have to sit still in stationary or crawling traffic. It’s really important that you understand that they don’t understand! Very occasionally you may encounter a situation that puts you at risk as a consequence of another vehicle intentionally blocking your path. And that dog might just jump out of the window.

Such behaviour is highly dangerous and puts the rider at enormous risk if the filtering manoeuvre has been started. It is not unreasonable for you then to note the number of the vehicle and report the driver to the police. They may not be able to do much, but they may well be able to embarrass the driver later that day or the next at their workplace perhaps. In some cases they may be able to prosecute. Whatever you do, stay calm and look for another way out of the predicament. Such instances are extremely rare but they do happen. Factor it in to your ‘What if’? Planning.

Filtering Speed

One sure way to cause agitation to others is to ‘hammer’ along past queues of crawling traffic. Not only will you agitate others, you will place yourself at serious risk of missing the clue that the driver was changing lanes, and well, bang. And it’s your fault as much as theirs.

Filtering can only be safely done when the speed you are travelling at allows you to stop calmly and in full control of the machine if the situation changes, as you planned for of course! A severe wobble whilst slowing down may itself cause you to bang into another vehicle.

The answer to the question of what speed is acceptable for filtering is; slowly, and in any case use the golden rule.