We have pulled together a few tips & tricks we've used in the past to help you get comfortable on the road.
Your motorcycle gear is like the safety belt of a car, you will feel naked without it & it may save your life. Confidence in gear that fits you will reflect in your riding (we explain more about this in our blog about Motorcycle Gear Basics).
• Are all your lights working?
• Do you have enough petrol?
• Are your tyres in good condition? (correct air pressure, no punctures, plenty of tread)
• Can you see any oil/fluid leaks on the ground or on your motorbike?
• Does your chain/belt have the right tension? If you feel too much slack, check your user manual to find out how to get the correct tension.
We have a full breakdown of basic maintenance in our Motorcycle hibernation blog.
Fun fact: You should be checking the air pressure in your tyres every couple of weeks. The recommended PSI will be in your manual and written on the wall of each tyre.
Would you start your day without a coffee? Nope, neither would your bike.
Letting your bike run for a few minutes before touching the throttle lets all those good brown juices run through the veins of your bike. It prevents internal damage by allowing the oil to circulate and lubricate the moving parts.
Weather & route check.
Failing to plan is planning to fail!
Know where you're going so you can focus on the surrounding traffic & your riding. Learning to ride in the wet/night time is essential, but only after you have nailed down the basics. Motorcycle commuters AKA daily riders, check the meteorology report as much as they check their socials.
Shake your body and do some stretches to rattle off those pre-ride nerves. We can hold all of life’s stresses in our bodies without even realising, so take some deep breaths and chill the F out so your reflexes are lubed up for the ride.
When you are a new rider, as soon as you sit on your motorcycle you can forget the most basics of basic. Just like jumping in your car and setting off, this too will become a natural ritual:
- Head check & saddle up
- Key turned to ON
- Bike in neutral
- Kickstand UP
- Clutch & front brake in
- Pull over choke (if your bike has it) & fire up
- Head check again, ride on!
If your bike wont start don’t panic!
This literally gets every biker from time to time and we generally facepalm ourselves for the error. It's an all time classic when someone is watching you, so take a deep breath and double-check the above list, if that doesn't work make sure your killswitch is OFF.
None of us are perfect, but doing these drills on the regular will make you a better rider and build your confidence.
Repetition is key, the more you do it the easier it will be!
Corners & weaving.
Ummmm excuse me... My eyes are up here! Where the eyes look the body follows and so does your motorcycle.
Approach the corner, turn your head (not just your eyeballs) and look into the direction you want to go. Hug your tank with your legs and lean with your bike while you turn, keeping your head up and line of sight level with the road.
Weaving through cones or down a straight road will help improve your balance and get you familiar with the weight ratio of your motorcycle. Be sure to practice roundabouts, u-turns, figure eights & yes it’s scary, but after spending ten minutes doing drills each time you ride, your confidence & skills will drastically improve.
Tip: Cutting up some tennis balls in half are a good way to add markers to the ground and you can fit them down your jacket for the ride in.
“Steer left to turn right” What, does that even make sense!?
It's easier to explain to a toddler where babies come from than to make sense of how counter steering works. Try not to overthink this one as you've most likely been doing it all along, just let your instincts take over.
To put it most simply, just push the end of the handlebar (and turn your head) in the direction you want to go!
It's easiest to do this when your not riding at slow speeds. Practice on a push bike and with a small obstacle on the ground for you to swerve around.
Pull in the front brake (all four fingers), then hit the back brake to anchor down your speed, ensuring you pull in the clutch before you come to a stop so the engine doesn't stall. This method will help avoid the wheels from locking up. DON'T RELY ON YOUR A.B.S EVEN IF YOU HAVE IT!
How slow can you go? It sounds a lot easier than it is!
This drill is all about your clutch control. You can keep your bike moving without using the throttle.
Once you're moving at snail pace and feet are off the ground, forget about the throttle & breaks. Keep your eyes up, core tight, and arms relaxed.
When you pull the clutch fully in, you'll notice the bike will want stop movement and tip, before you fall over or plank your feet, release the clutch slightly and you will regain balance & momentum. This is that magic friction point!
By using just the friction point (clutch in & out) you can control a slow speed and the bike will move by itself. Mastering this will dramatically improve your confidence, handling and knowledge of a manual transmission.