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Is it illegal to ride a motorcycle with one hand?

If you’ve been stopped by the police for riding a motorcycle with one hand, you might be confused about the laws surrounding this and whether it is an illegal practice.

At Bikelawyer, we’re more than just a specialist motorcycle accident legal firm. As well as our motorcycle accident claims service, we also provide basic legal advice and expert information for the motorcycle community, through our column in Motor Cycle News (MCN).

In this blog, our motorcycle experts answer a question we were recently asked by one of our MCN column readers:


In the past, I’ve been told off by the traffic cops for riding with only one hand on the bars because apparently, I¹m ‘not in proper control of the machine¹. Is it an offence to ride like that? If so, what’s the point of cruise control where you can let go of the twistgrip without the throttle shutting off?


It’s useful to consider the law relating to riding a motorbike with one hand, as well as the safety advice in the Highway Code.

Can you ride a motorcycle with one hand?

There is no law that says you can’t ride one-handed, for instance, where arm amputees are driving a vehicle. However, if a police officer believes there are other factors that do constitute the offence of ‘not being in proper control’ (S41 D of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Regulation 110 Construction and Use Regulations 1986) the matter could go to Court. Mobile phone use by a driver is covered by the same legislation.

So, riding one-handed is fine, but if you are fiddling with a pannier catch and the bike is weaving all over the road, then you could be committing an offence. Getting pulled over for a wheelie falls under the same legislation (and can often lead to a dangerous driving charge) as the bike is not being ridden as it should be, with most of the bike’s braking capability up in the air.

Relaxing your throttle grip with cruise control on is one thing, but a police officer could argue in Court that resting your right hand anywhere else than the handlebar for an extended time seriously limits your ability to brake and swerve around a sudden obstacle.

The penalty for this offence is a Level 3 fine, maximum of £1,000 and 3 points with a discretionary disqualification.

Section 41D in full is……A person who contravenes or fails to comply with a construction and use requirement — (a) as to not driving a motor vehicle in a position which does not give proper control or a full view of the road and traffic ahead, or not causing or permitting the driving of a motor vehicle by another person in such a position, or (b) as to not driving or supervising the driving of a motor vehicle while using a hand-held mobile telephone or other hand-held interactive communication device, or not causing or permitting the driving of a motor vehicle by another person using such a telephone or other device, is guilty of an offence.

Is it against the Highway Code to ride a motorcycle with one hand?

The Highway Code doesn’t explicitly state that it is against the rules to ride a motorcycle with one hand, however, it does emphasise the importance of maintaining proper control of your vehicle at all times.

While it may not be illegal, operating a motorcycle without holding the handlebars could be considered a safety risk and might contribute to a charge of careless or dangerous riding if law enforcement determines it affects your ability to control the motorcycle effectively.

Therefore, it is generally considered safer to operate your motorcycle with both hands, if possible, and to be aware of your surroundings and any potential hazards.

It’s important for motorcyclists to prioritise safety and adhere to the guidelines outlined in the Highway Code to ensure their safety and the safety of others on the road.

Contact our motorcycle accident claims solicitors

At Bikelawyer, we specialise in motorcycle accident claims, supporting those who’ve been involved in accidents on the road.

If you require our services and would like to discuss your circumstances, please get in touch with our motorcycle accident lawyers at Bikelawyer. You can call us on 01446 794199.

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