How to Ride a Motorcycle | Tips for Beginners
One of the coolest and easiest ways to commute to school or office or cruise around town is through a motorbike. Motorcycles are a great form of transportation and they allow you to move around town in style. However, you first need to learn how to ride one.
Learning how to ride a motorcycle is pretty simple — much like learning to drive a car. It can be a little bit intimidating at first, but if you let yourself go through the learning process, taking the right lessons, and exercising caution, you’ll be riding in no time.
When learning how to ride a motorcycle, patience really is a virtue. You need to be patient with the entire process and take it one step at a time. In this guide, we will show you all the simple steps involved in riding a motorbike. Before we get started, let’s give you a hint of some of the things you need to consider when learning to ride a motorbike.
Prerequisites for Riding a Motorbike
There are many things you need to consider when you want to learn how to ride a motorcycle. These range from the kind of motorbike you need to all the safety lessons you need to get started. Here are some of the things you need to do before you get started.
Take a Safety Course
Before you get started with your motorcycle riding lessons, the first thing you need to do is to take a motorbike safety course. When learning to ride a motorbike, you need to do it confidently and safely, and you can only achieve that when you complete your safety course. Motorcycle safety courses usually last for about three days, and they are organized by certified instructors.
These safety instructors are also familiar with the motorbike laws in your place and they will teach you how to handle riding challenges that may arise. This training will introduce you to the basics of riding and how you can keep yourself safe while riding on the road. Even some experienced motorbike riders usually come back after some years to brush up their skill with these courses.
Get Your License, Registration, and Insurance
This is a very important aspect that you should not ignore. The process of getting your license can be tedious but it is very important that you do get it. After your safety course, you will need to write and pass a test. You will also need to write another test at the DMV for you to obtain your motorcycle license. We also recommend you get insurance for your motorbike, as it is very important. Since you are a learner, you are susceptible to crashes, and being insured is a great way to go.
Even for professional motorcycle riders, safety gear is one of the most important things to put on when riding. As a beginner, you need all the best quality motorcycle safety gear that you can lay your hands on. As we said earlier, learners are susceptible to crashes, and the best way to protect yourself from getting injured in this process is to put on the best motorbike safety gear.
Your safety is very important and you should invest a lot in it. You should go for tough and withstanding gear. The gear should be able to keep your head and other parts of your body safe in the event of a crash. You should invest in a premium-quality motorbike helmet that fits perfectly and will not dent if there is a crash. Your motorbike apparel should also be safety oriented.
Start with A Motorbike for Beginners
There are different types of motorcycles on the market today. We have some high-performance, heavy-duty machines that are ideal for professional riders. There are also lightweight bikes with smaller engines suited for beginners. When starting to learn how to ride a motorbike, we highly recommend you start with an option designed for beginners like you.
If you cannot afford a new one, you can opt for a used one, as it will still suffice. It is recommended you start with cheaper ones, as there is a higher chance of denting it. It is much better if you dent a motorbike of $3,000 than you dent one that is worth over $15,000. You can start with a used one and get something better as you improve your skills. However, you want to make sure you look for only the best beginner motorcycles, as they are specifically designed for learners like you.
Avoid Interstates, Freeways, and Highways
When learning to ride a motorbike, you need to practice more often to build your confidence. However, while practicing, you should avoid practicing on freeways, highways, and interstates. You should avoid high traffic zones at all costs. You should only consider those routes when you have the experience, confidence, and speed required.
This is very important, not for your safety alone, but the safety of others as well. You need to learn how to walk before you can run. Hence, in your walking days, you should maintain the walking lane.
Always Ride Alone
As a learner, you should avoid carrying passengers until you have built yourself well enough to do that. You need to be well-experienced and skilled to carry another person with you. If you carry a passenger without the skill required, you are only putting the safety of the person at risk. Hence, you should avoid carrying passengers until you are ready to do so.
Simple Steps on How to Drive a Motorcycle
Check and Inspect the Motorcycle
Before you get started, you should take out some time to check and inspect the bike thoroughly. You need to check the bike very well before you hit the road. Everything should be in perfect working condition. Check the wheels and tires, controls including pedal, levers, hoses, throttle, and cable. You should also check the oil fluid levels, headlights, battery, mirror, and turn signals. You should not ignore the center stand or/and kickstand, chain, suspension, frame, and more.
Mounting the Motorbike
Mounting a bike requires some sort of flexibility, and it can be a little bit awkward for the first few times. Nevertheless, as you keep doing it, you will get used to it. The best place to mount on the bike is on the left side, and you should bend your knees slightly with your weight centered over your legs. Use your right hand to hold the right handle of the bike and then grab the left handle with your left hand.
When mounting the motorbike, your weight should be geared towards your left leg while you take your right leg backward and then over the motorcycle. You need to lift your leg very high to prevent it from getting caught on the way. After mounting and sitting down comfortably, you need to get yourself familiar with the controls of the bike.
You should know where all the controls are, including the footpeg position, horn, turn signals, and lights. If your mirror is not well-adjusted, this is the right time to do it.
Brakes and Throttle
Your right hand is very important when riding a bike, as it does some vital things. The right hand is in charge of two major functions – applying brakes and accelerating the bike. To accelerate the bike (applying throttle), you need to hold the right handle and twist the grip in your direction, which means your wrist has to move upward.
You need to be careful when twisting the grip, as the bike is more likely to fly if you twist too hard. To control the brakes, you also need your right hands. The brake lever is placed in front of the throttle, it has a similar design to a bicycle.
You need to be delicate with all your controls. Like the throttle, you need to be smooth with the brakes as well. You should apply the brakes gradually when needed. If you hold the brake lever too hard, it might cause the front brakes to lock up, and this can result in skidding or an accident.
The lever in front of the throttle controls the front brake, and you can use only two fingers to operate some models while some require the entire hand. You need your right foot to control the rear brake. According to most experts, the best way to stop your bike is to first apply the rear brake gently, then ease off and gradually apply the front brake.
Nevertheless, the effectiveness of the brake system is dependent on the type of motorbike you are riding. You want to make sure you learn how to ride with a bike that has a very effective brake system.
This is where your left hand will come into play. The lever in front of the left handle is the clutch. With some motorcycles, you can operate the clutch with just two fingers. However, for some bikes such as cruising and touring motorcycles, you need your entire left hand to grab the clutch. If you know how to drive a manual car, you can easily use the clutch of a bike, as they do the same thing.
The clutch helps to disengage and engage the transmission and engine. If you press down the clutch, you will put the motorcycle in neutral. You engage the transmission and engine by releasing the clutch. When you want to disengage the engine, you should press down the clutch slowly. Handling it slowly is a great way of engaging gears more efficiently and smoothly.
The process of changing gear on a bike is different from the way it is done in a car. The shifting of a car and motorbike operate on the same principle but the way they are applied is different. For bike shifts, you need to move a lever down or up with your left foot. The shift pattern of a bike is referred to as “one down, five up.
At the bottom, you have the first gear – gear one. Right above it, you have the Neutral. Above the Neutral, you have the second gear, third gear, fourth gear, fifth gear, and sixth gear (for motorbikes with up to six transmissions).
However, you need a lot of practice to know how you can use your leg to find the right gear you need at any time. The most difficult shift to find is Neutral, but you will get used to it with constant practice. To get used to it, you should click the shifter back and forth when practicing; be looking at the gauge until a green “N” shows up.
You can shift some bikes without disengaging the transmission and engine (applying the clutch). However, it is a good practice to apply the clutch whenever you want to shift. To shift to the gear you want, apply the clutch gently and disengage the engine, shift the gear, and then release the clutch gradually. If you want to enjoy a smoother shifting process, you should feather the throttle with the clutch.
Starting the Engine
Motorcycles are very easy to start, especially the new models. You can start your bike’s engine just the way you start your car. To start your bike, you need to put the kill switch on the “On” position. You need to flip the switch down before turning the key. After doing that, the next step is turning the key to the “Ignition” position. While doing this, make sure the bike is set to neutral.
After putting the key in the ignition position, you can push the start button with your thumb. You can find the start button beneath the kill switch – at least in most bikes. Depending on the bike you are riding, you might need to press down the clutch before starting the engine, which is a safety measure to prevent the motorbike from setting off accidentally.
Pressing down the start button will turn on the engine and put it in idle mode. If your motorcycle is carbureted, you might need to throttle it a bit for fuel to enter the cylinders. If the bike is fuel-injected, you do not have to do this.
When the engine is up and running, you should wait for some time to warm up. While people no longer warm cars these days, warming up the engine of a bike is very much important, especially the carbureted models. When you warm up the engine, it is more likely to provide consistent, smooth power when you start riding.
You should leave it running idle for a minimum of one minute. If you are in a haste, 45 seconds should suffice. However, the amount of time you leave it running should depend on some factors like the displacement of the engine, the oil capacity, as well as the temperature of the environment. Your general guide should be the temperature gauge on the bike and you should avoid revving the engine.
Final Stage: Riding and Steering
Now that we have put you through everything you need to get started, it is time to hit the road. You now know how to mount your bike, check all the necessary parts, handle your brake, throttle, and clutch, and even start your bike.
To hit the road, start the engine, press down the clutch lever, shift the bike down to gear one, gradually let go of the clutch, and twist the throttle (as we explained earlier) slowly. At this point, the bike will start moving slowly, provided you twist the throttle slowly.
When the bike starts moving forward, remove your feet on the floor and put them on the foot pegs. Just for the records, you will not be riding in a straight line. Hence, steering your bike is one thing you should learn. Fortunately, steering a motorbike is not difficult; it is just like riding a bicycle. You can turn a motorbike by counter-steering when it is moving at about 10mph, not by pushing the handlebars from right to left. Counter steering refers to pushing the grip in the direction you want to go.
Riding a motorbike is not as difficult as many people think it is. All you need is the right basics to get you started. The most important thing is getting the right lessons and gearing up for your safety. With our comprehensive guide, getting started with your motorcycle riding career should no longer be a problem.
Remember, you need to ride with precaution and put on quality safety gear when riding. You should start slowly, ensuring you take everything one step at a time. When applying brakes, throttle, and clutch, the gentler the better. You should hold and release them slowly to avoid accidents. This process will take you some time and practice, but you will come out at the other end like a pro.