How to ride a motorcycle

This section, on how to ride a motorcycle, will deal with fundamentals of riding a motorcycle, the very basics that many riders don’t even know about.  Good riding is about making the right decisions and executing them though control inputs.  Further sections will focus on more specific parts of the control inputs such as motorcycle steering - Part I and Part II as well as motorcycle braking. The whole article though should give you many useful tips on riding techniques. Ultimately, the better rider you are, the safer and more enjoyable your rides are.

Bear in mind the weak link

Looking at the performance figures of modern bikes, most of them will have less than three seconds for 0-60mph, which to tell the truth, beat majority of supercars. The bikes continue to improve and tires get progressively better but motorcycle crashes are still a serious problem on our roads. What does this tell you? Is it the rider who needs strengthening?!

Unfortunately bravery and testosterone receive too much attention among motorcyclists. Firstly, there is a thin line between bravery and stupidity and secondly and more importantly No fear might  work for bungee jumping  but not for motorcycle riding. Concentration, practice and self-discipline are much more rewarding. Add to them intelligence, intuition and desire and you describe the most experienced riders. Some of the above you cannot learn but the fact that you're reading this article and think about riding will lead to significant improvement of your riding abilities and therefore greater enjoyment.

How to ride a motorcycle - find the optimal seating position

You need to think that the ability to sensitively operate the throttle, front brake and clutch is most crucial in motorcycle control. Now, to do that you need to be in a relaxed position, that is no pressure on the handlebars. Ideally your crotch should be about one inch from the end of the tank, your arms bent so that your forearm is parallel to the road and your back rounded.

Sitting too far back locks the elbows and this means you loose the feel on the front end. The result is abrupt steering and weak control of throttle, front brake and clutch. The straight arms often lead to wobbles and weaves into the bike chassis because your front tire isn't allowed to respond to road imperfections. 

On the other hand sitting up against tank straighten your back and often you tend to straighten your arms too and the results are just as above for straight arms. It is also important to recognise that riding with straight back will make it difficult to move shoulders to load the foot pegs on turns and transfer body weight forward and backward.

Get your eyes to work and use them in a smart way

From other tips on how to ride a motorcycle it is well known that when you ride you tend to go where you're looking. It is simple as that. How many times you've fixed your eyes on something on the road that you wanted to avoid and run right over it. In riding you must focus your eyes on the correct path and that will allow your body and your bike follow your eyes. This is especially important in emergency situations such us a car turns in front of you or you spotted a gravel on a corner. Instead of fixing your eyes on the obstacle you need to find an alternative path and follow it. As you learn the techniques and become better rider you will be able to place the bike within few inches on the road.

If you're choose to ride quickly through some mountain passes you must forget about the panoramic views and concentrate on the road and look where you want to be! Do not stare at the rider in front of you. In case he comes off you're very likely to follow. 

In situation with more traffic or congested areas you actually scan the surrounding and your eyes never stop moving. Do not focus on one event in front of you whiles in town. Keep your eyes moving quickly, this is the brain's primary information source. Focus on the main one (e.g. car changing a line in front of you) but use your peripheral vision to assess other potential problems.

On how to improve your peripheral vision read here

Look up the road

Don't focus just ahead of your front wheel which gives feeling of great speed. When you look further everything seem to slow down so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the speed. By looking up the road or further through the corner you give yourself more time to react and make correct decisions. The faster you go the further you will need to look ahead. Remember though that you must also scan back and forth from the bike's front tire to the furthest point you can comfortably see as you cannot be guaranteed a clear, gravel free road. 

We hope that this gives you some valuable tips on how to ride a motorcycle.

Read more on motorcycle steering techniques in motorcycle steering - Part I and Part II.

Also you will need to understand and constantly practice your motorcycle braking.

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