Victoria offers some world-renowned trail bike terrain that challenges both rider and machine. Make sure you enjoy your ride by keeping it safe and legal and remember to CHECK YOUR MATES before and during each ride.
Yourself. Ensure you are legally, physically and mentally prepared to ride.
Your riding group or buddy. Know your companions and always look out for each other.
Your bike. Make sure it is serviced, mechanically sound and legally compliant.
Mistakenly, a minority think the Road Rules don’t apply to riding a trail bike in the bush or on other public land because they don’t look like conventional roads. This is a misconception. All Road Rules apply whether it’s an informal single track, open fire trail, main forestry road or a camp ground.
All too often comments such as “I didn’t think that would apply out here” or “but I’m in the bush” are heard after an intercept by police or as a result of a collision. By that stage it’s too late.
The physical, social and financial impacts of trail bike trauma are significant and often avoidable. The following information will assist you to make informed choices to safely plan and enjoy your time on the trail.
Get out there and enjoy the riding environment, look after your sport, look after yourself and always CHECK YOUR MATES.
Helmet and Headlight
Always wear an approved helmet. A good quality, proper fitting helmet can be the difference between life and death. Ensure your motorcycle headlight is fitted and if legally required, the headlight is in good working order and operating as you ride. Be safe, be seen. All motorcycle headlights must be of a type intended for use on motorcycles and comply with the relevant standards.
Offence: Fail to wear approved motorcycle helmet
Fine: Excess of $300 + demerit points
Offence: Ride without headlight on (Learner & Restricted)
Fine: Excess of $150
Conserve Energy when riding
Physical and mental fatigue is one of the greatest contributors to Trail Bike Road Trauma. You may be using skills you haven’t practised in a while and you may fatigue quickly. Track and road conditions change frequently, which may also result in increased levels of fatigue.
Evaluate the risks
A great day out can turn into a long recovery process because of a poor decision. Over one third of all motorcycle injury collisions on Victorian roads occur on trail bikes. Continually modify your riding to suit the terrain. Remember a safe speed is one that allows you to safely respond to changing road conditions.
Comply with your licence Conditions
You must have a motorcycle licence. If required, ensure that your motorcycle is LAMS approved, you’re wearing a high visibility vest, you’re displaying L or P Plates and carrying your licence.
Offence: Unlicensed riding
Fine: Excess of $750
Offence: Ride non LAMS approved motorcycle
Fine: Excess of $300 + demerit points
Offence: Fail to wear Hi-Vis Vest
Fine: Excess of $150
Offence: Fail to Display L or P Plates
Fine: Excess of $150 + demerit points (P plates)
Offence: Fail to carry permit or licence
Fine: Excess of $75
Don’t let your next ride be your last. Plan your ride. Ride your plan. A failure to adequately plan your ride dramatically increases your chances of having your day cut short with an unexpected emergency. Plan each ride around everyone in your group. Know the distance you intend to cover and the type of terrain you are expecting. Have you thought about first aid, maps, fuel or spares? Know what you plan to do if someone is hurt.
You are not alone
Remember to stay left and expect people coming the other way. Other riders, walkers, four wheel drives, horse riders, mountain bike riders, campers and families all share these areas. The last thing that you want is to have a collision with another forest user. The impacts are nearly always significant.
Rural roads and forest tracks are not the place to push your riding to the limits – your actions have consequences in an unforgiving environment. Avoid being prosecuted for your riding behaviour
by keeping it safe and legal.
Offence: Careless riding
Fine: Excess of $360 + demerit points
Offence: Fail to keep left of centre of road/track
Fine: Excess of $190 + demerit points
Offence: Fail to keep left of oncoming vehicle
Fine: Excess of $265 + demerit points
Offence: Fail to keep as far left as practicable
Fine: Excess of $150 + demerit points
Under the influence
Did you know drink and drug driving laws apply everywhere? This includes private property. Alcohol, drugs and dirt bikes don’t mix – separate the activities.
Don’t ride if you’ve just had a big night. Avoid the temptation to ride after a few drinks around the campfire and remember illicit drugs can stay in your system for days after use. You can be tested for drugs and alcohol at any time on the trail. It’s also mandatory after any collision involving injury to you or another rider.
Ensure that your bike is registered and meets the required standards. Headlights, taillights and brake lights are all about your safety and the safety of others. Make sure you know the conditions of recreational registration. Riding outside these conditions makes you unregistered. The removal or alteration of mandatory items required for full or recreational registration is an offence.
Offence: Use unregistered motorcycle
Fine: Up to or in excess of $750
Offence: Use of vehicle that does not comply with standards of registration
Fine: Excess of $370
*Recreation Registration Information Bulletin is available on the Vic Roads website HERE
Make sure you ride with others or let someone know exactly where you are going. Look out for each other and take your mates’ safety seriously. If you ride by yourself consider taking a personal locator beacon to assist you in the event of an injury or other emergency.
Trail bike riding is often a social activity. Monitor each person in the group, as everyone will have different ability and fitness levels. Take a break or modify a ride for your mates if they are struggling.
Attach your number plate
No backpacks, no stickers, no excuses. Your number plate needs to be affixed to the rear of your motorcycle in a safe, secure and visible manner. It is extremely hard to forge or duplicate a VicRoads issued number plate. Stickers can be readily printed and altered. If officially permitted, this would allow people to easily clone motorbikes in the event they are stolen. The issued number plate is used to identify that a particular vehicle is registered and most importantly for you – not stolen. The legal fixing of a number plate also allows other forest users or residents to identify that bikes are legal. This is good for the reputation of trail bike riding to authorities and the broader community.
*Sticker number plates are not acceptable!
Offence: Number plate not displayed or affixed to motorcycle
Fine: Excess of $150 + demerit points
Offence: Use of vehicle with misrepresented number plate (sticker)
Fine: Excess of $300
Taking children for a ride
You cannot obtain a motorcycle learner permit until you are 18 years old. This means children cannot ride any form of motorcycles in public areas or on public roads. This includes mini bikes,
fun bikes, pit bikes and more. Victoria’s state forests and parks are open for all members of the public to enjoy in a safe and legal manner – including those who are legally driving or riding vehicles under an appropriate licence or permit.
Junior permits have been introduced for some selected activities with careful consideration of safety principles and the ability to provide direct supervision. However, effective communication and physical control are very hard to effectively apply when riding motorcycles over hazardous and isolated terrain. There is no evidence of any long term safety benefits to teaching children to ride in uncontrolled environments and on public roads. There continues to be a number of options that allow for juniors to ride under direct supervision in a controlled environment that are utilised by responsible parents. A number of motorcycle clubs offer family friendly environments, access to property, first aid response and coaching. Explore these options through Motorcycling Victoria.
We all want the best for our children. The last thing we need is injuries to children on public roads in the infancy of their skill development.
Often, appropriate medical response in the event of an injury can also be challenging and delayed. Avoid questions from police. Avoid the fines and recorded history for your children. It’s not worth the risk to them. You may have grown up riding in the bush with your parents. Unfortunately, this practice was never legal. The rules today are very clear.
You are riding in public areas; the law doesn’t end where the trees and trail begin. Police regularly patrol these environments. The Road Rules and Road Safety Act apply in all public areas irrespective of the road surface or feeling of isolation. There is no such place as ‘the bush’ with respect to the law. Road trauma does not discriminate just because you think you are ‘out here’. Take care, follow the rules and enjoy your riding today and into the future.
Riding a dirt bike means that sooner or later you will most likely hit the dirt. Think about your safety to ensure such encounters are met with appropriate protective equipment. Trail bike safety is about more than a helmet alone. Boots, gloves, goggles, knee protection, body armour, hydration systems and full length clothing all play a significant role in increasing your personal safety. Bike preparation can increase both your safety and the enjoyment of your ride. Make sure you check over your entire motorcycle including: tyres, tyre pressure, brakes, suspension, oil levels, bolts, chain and sprockets.
So make sure before you go you…
C- Conserve Energy when riding
H- Helmet and Headlight
E- Evaluate the risks
C- Comply with your licence conditions
K- Killer ride
Y- You are not alone
U- Under the influence
A- Attach your number plate
T- Taking children for a ride
More information can be found at:
What is Check Your Mates?
CHECK YOUR MATES is a community-driven road safety campaign targeting recreational trail bike riders. You can learn more about the breadth of this program by reading the below ‘Check Your Mates’ Flyer.