Learning how to ride a motorcycle could be intimidating at first but when you approach it with caution and care, it becomes a fun exercise. Learning how to ride should be done in a safe and controlled manner. First things first, once you’ve settled on the type of motorcycle you want, start by buying crucial safety gear and then take care of licensing and insurance and you are good to go. If you have a passion for the motorcycle but you don’t know where to start from, here is everything you need to know on how to ride it.
Inspect your bike
Motorcycles have no airbags or seatbelts and given that they always include an element of danger, there is a reason to inspect it before hitting the road. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, you should focus on a checklist referred to as T-CLOCS that entails;
- T – tires, wheels
- C – Controls (throttle, cables, hoses, levers, and pedal)
- L – Light (headlights, mirrors, battery, turn signals)
- O– Oil (the fluid levels)
- C – Chassis (suspension, frame, chain)
- S – Stands (kickstand/center stand)
With that checklist, you have already taken care of the basics and you can boldly learn how to ride a motorcycle.
When riding a motorcycle, you can easily scrape yourself during an accident and that’s why you need to equip yourself with safety gear.
- Get a helmet: It will protect your head from injury in any case your motorcycle goes down. For effectiveness, fit it well and maintain a field of vision to help you see the road properly
- Get a jacket: When considering riding a motorcycle, you must be extra cautious about your body. A motorcycle jacket will protect your torso that includes your internal organs in case of an accident. Generally, these jackets are made of manufactured materials like Kevlar or leather and it should be capable of absorbing body armor. The jacket will also protect you from adverse weathers
- Get motorcycle gloves and boots: With gloves and boots, you are assured of maximum protection, safety and comfort as you enjoy the ride. Gloves protect your hands while boots protect your ankles and feet
Learn how to ride
If you want to become an expert in riding motorcycles, it’s important to learn how to ride. This can be done by taking a motorcycle safety course and learning the controls.
- Taking a motorcycle safety course
New riders are highly recommended to take a motorcycle safety course in order to be equipped with excellent safety and riding techniques. In some states, a safety course is a requirement for you to get a license, but even if it’s not mandatory in your state, it’s something you should consider for your own safety.
When learning, you are provided with a motorcycle if you don’t have one, and at the end of both the classroom and riding portion, you will be subjected to a test and upon passing, you’ll be given a license.
- Learning the controls
Before taking that first step and ride your motorcycle, it’s always important to familiarize yourself with the basics. For instance, understand that the hand clutch is situated on the left handlebar and when you intend to shift gears, you’ll use it to disengage the power from the rear wheel.
Te gear shifter changes one gear up or down when pulling the clutch lever, and it’s situated by your left foot. The throttle is used for acceleration and it’s located on the right handlebar.
The handbrake is the lever on your right handlebar and it typically applies the brakes to the front wheel. In other words, you must keep in mind that the right side of your motorcycle is meant to control braking and acceleration, while the left side is for controlling gears.
Mounting the motorcycle
Mounting a motorcycle is not as easy as it seems especially if you’re doing it for the first time. For effectiveness, stand on the left side of your bike, bent your knees slightly and center your weight over your legs. Grab the left handlebar with your left hand and the right handlebar with your right hand and then mount it by shifting your weight onto your left leg and lift your right leg back, up and over your bike. Ensure your arms are bent in the elbow and that you can plant your feet on the ground.
Get the feel of the clutch
After learning the controls, you get to understand that it’s the clutch that changes gears. Therefore, immediately you pull the clutch in, you’ll release the engine from the transmission and this puts your bike in neutral to enable you to change gears.
Pull in the clutch lever smoothly and gradually and push down the gear shifter using your left foot to put your bike into the first gear which will be displayed on your gauge. Note that you are supposed to be extra careful when shifting gears to prevent your bike from jerking.
Start the engine
Once you pull the clutch in, locate a red switch on your right handlebar called the kill switch and switch it on by flipping it down. Turn the key to its ignition position and ensure the gauges and lights are on and operational.
Put the bike into neutral and you’ll see ‘N’ on the gauge, and then push the start button using your right thumb. When your engine is already turned on, give it a few seconds to warm up. With your feet on the ground, you’ll pull the clutch lever back in until you experience a good feel for the clutch.
Power walks the bike
With your feet planted on the ground to balance the bike, gradually let the clutch out until it starts moving by itself forward and pull your feet off the ground when the bike gains stability.
Get down to driving your motorcycle
After starting your engine and letting it warm, you can now begin doing what you’ve been wanted; riding a motorcycle starting with gear 1. Accelerate it slightly and try riding your bike in a straight line.
Practice shifting gears
Once you realize you can ride your bike in a straight line, it’s now the time to advance and learn gear shifting and feel the ‘friction zone’. When you engage the clutch, resistance is created in a friction zone which allows power to be transferred from the engine to the rear wheel.
Always note that gear shifting, whether up or down should be done in consecutive order and it might take time before feeling when to shift, and that’s where practice comes in place.
Generally, roads are not straight lines and you’ll need to turn several times to reach your destination. Therefore, it’s important to practice turning your bike by counter-steering when you are about 10mph or higher. When turning, slow down and never apply brakes.
Master slowing down and stopping
So far so good, you are about to become an expert in riding a motorcycle. However, the experience would not be complete without practising how to slow down and eventually stop.
Always keep in mind that the right handlebar lever operates your front brake while the right foot brake operates back wheel brake. Therefore, begin with the front brake and after slowing down, apply the rear brake.
It’s also important to downshift into second gear and opt to stop before shifting into first gear. As you gradually increase the pressure you apply to both rear and front brake, don’t pull back on the throttle and don’t engage the brakes completely. As soon as you stop, engage the front brake then plant your feet firmly on the ground and get off starting with your left foot followed by the right one. And congratulations, you already know how to ride a motorcycle.
Riding a motorcycle is not always a walk in the park but with patience and determination, it’s a less daunting and fun activity. The best thing is to master the basics and concentrate on the road. Most importantly, practice the riding experience and you’ll definitely become an expert with time.