Advanced Motorcycle Riding Techniques

Welcome to the world of advanced motorcycle riding techniques. This isn't just about riding faster; it's about honing your skills, understanding dynamics of your machine, and respecting the road.

In this article, we revisit the fundamental techniques of braking and refine the advanced techniques of steering. Drawing on years of collective experience and insights from some of the most skilled riders, we aim to enrich your riding acumen.

Subsequent articles will discuss the throttle control - often the most misused aspect of riding, and further refine techniques of braking. We will also explore environmental considerations and the nuances of group riding. Each article will provide practical drills to develop and enhance your advanced riding techniques for life.

Remember, motorcycle riding is a lifelong study, and every ride presents an opportunity to refine your techniques. Whether you're navigating country roads, city traffic, or the racetrack, the lessons learned from each experience are invaluable.


Understanding Braking Dynamics

braking techniques

When you apply the front brake, the motorcycle's weight shifts forward, compressing the front suspension and loading the front tyre, which can handle the majority of the braking force. This is why the front brake is more effective and powerful than the rear brake.

The front brake provides most of your stopping power. To brake safely:

  • Squeeze the brake lever gradually to avoid a sudden weight shift or tyre lock-up.

  • As the bike slows and the weight transfers forward, you can apply more brake pressure.

The rear brake is useful for low-speed manoeuvres, stabilizing the bike during downshifting, or when traction is compromised. It should be used lightly as it's easier to lock up the rear wheel, especially under heavy braking.

Mastering the Brake: The Art of Controlled Halts

Consider your usual riding speed. Now, ask yourself: do you know the exact time and distance required to bring your machine to a complete stop from that speed? It's vital to know, as rigorous testing reveals that even from 60 mph, the average stop spans 120 feet (37 meters) - and that's under ideal conditions, with an adept rider at the helm.

Braking proficiency is what separates the adept rider from the novice. It's not about a forceful grab but a progressive squeeze of the brake lever, a technique that can smoothly bring you to an impressive stoppie or a necessary halt. This brings us to the one of the most important and fundamental aspects of motorcycle riding, your sitting position.

Sitting position

motorcycle riding sitting position

One crucial aspect to remember while braking is that your arms should not push the handlebars, which might be the instinctive reaction. When your body weight shifts forward, pushing the handlebars can make it challenging to control the brake lever or clutch. Instead, use your knees to lock yourself against the tank in a position that allows your arms to remain relaxed.

Whether you're braking or accelerating, you should sit comfortably about an inch from the back of the tank, with your chest close but not touching it, and your arms bent at the elbows. Your forearms should be more or less parallel to the road. The weight of your upper body should be supported by your core and lower back muscles, rather than resting heavily on the handlebars. This approach prevents wrist fatigue and enhances your ability to operate the throttle, front brake lever, and steer effectively. Remember that relaxed hands are essential if you want to improve your riding skills.


Most bikers tend to be better at twisting throttle than squeezing that front brake lever, obviously it is easier, but think of what is actually more useful. Whichever speed you tend to ride, practicing emergency stops from that speed is essential. Find a safe stretch of a road where you can practice you stops and see how things get better in time, it's all muscle memory that will make you a better and more confident rider.

Motorcycle Steering: The Countersteering Conundrum

Steering a motorcycle can seem mystifying, but in practice, it's often more intuitive than it sounds. In a counterintuitive twist, you turn the handlebars to the right if you want to go left, and turn them left if you want to go right. This concept is especially familiar to anyone who has ridden a bicycle, as two-wheeled vehicles share similar handling characteristics. This phenomenon is known as "countersteering," where you initiate a turn on a motorcycle by pushing on the left handlebar to go left, and conversely, pushing right to go right. Essentially, it involves pushing the handlebar in the direction you wish to travel.

While countersteering may initially seem perplexing, it is a crucial aspect of riding, particularly for those with larger sport-touring motorcycles. These bikes, often characterized by their long wheelbases, require a keen understanding of this technique as they don't turn as easily as shorter bikes. With practice and heightened awareness, countersteering quickly becomes an instinctive part of the riding process.

The Influence of Control Inputs

Your motorcycle's responsiveness to steering inputs is proportional to the force you apply. A gentle push on the handlebars results in a graceful arc, while a more forceful jab can cause the bike to tip quickly. Experimenting with different pressures and speeds will not only boost your understanding but also your confidence and enjoyment on the road.

Speed plays a pivotal role in steering due to the gyroscopic effect of the rotating parts like the wheels and chain. The faster you travel, the more effort it takes not just to initiate a turn but to recover from one. Manufacturers strive to strike a delicate balance between stability and agility in a bike's design, but it's your skilful input at the handlebars that truly unleashes a motorcycle's potential, transcending basic descriptors like "stable" or "nimble."

Mastering Countersteering

Before you can explore the more sophisticated steering techniques presented later, you must first master countersteering. It's about learning to influence your bike's trajectory with deliberate pressure at the handlebars.

Focus on Fundamentals

This article strips away distractions like speed obsession and suspension adjustments, redirecting attention to the rider. The quintessence of motorcycling is understanding that control stems from the brakes and steering. For new riders, these are the paramount skills to conquer before advancing to other aspects of riding.

Once you've grasped the principles of countersteering, you can look forward to advanced methods that will further refine your control and bolster your confidence. These techniques, which work in tandem with countersteering, will be covered in-depth, preparing you for the nuanced dance of precision riding.

motorcycle riding sitting position

Advanced Motorcycle Riding Tips: Steering Techniques

To demystify steering, we explored various methods. Our tests revealed that while you can influence a bike’s direction with body movements, the most effective control comes from the handlebars.

On the other hand, overpowering the handlebar can upset the bike's balance. Instead, steer with smooth, controlled motions. This not only maintains chassis stability but also overall riding comfort. A balanced push on the inside bar and pull on the outside bar can initiate a smooth, controlled lean.

Additional Steering Secrets


While we will delve deeper into throttle control in subsequent articles, it's essential to understand its basic principles here. The motorcycle's throttle does more than just control speed; it also influences the bike's lean angle. This ties back to our discussion about relaxing at the handlebar.

By using the throttle to adjust the lean angle, you can ease your grip on the handlebars, enhancing your ability to sense traction feedback from the front tyre. This leads to improved speed, safety, and confidence in your riding.

When you close the throttle (off-throttle), your bike leans into a corner. Opening the throttle (on-throttle) brings the bike up out of the corner. A slightly open throttle (maintenance throttle) maintains a constant lean angle. Understanding these terms is crucial for effective throttle steering.

On-throttle signifies acceleration and increasing speed, while maintenance throttle involves a minimal throttle application, barely engaging the carburetor slides or fuel-injection butterflies. It's a subtle but significant difference. Maintenance throttle allows for a controlled turn, while on-throttle is more about gaining speed.

adcanced motorcycle riding throttle steering

Entering a corner, you typically start off-throttle, allowing the bike to lean into the turn. To control the lean angle and navigate the apex effectively, you can either apply slight pressure on the outside handlebar or use maintenance throttle.

A closed throttle transfers weight to the front tyre, compressing the fork and tightening the steering geometry, facilitating steering. Transitioning to maintenance throttle shifts the weight slightly rearward, allowing the fork to extend and the bike to stabilize its lean angle. Fully opening the throttle then shifts most of the weight to the rear tyre, helping to straighten the bike out of the corner.

The key to mastering throttle control, especially on powerful motorcycles, is smoothness. A small turn of the throttle on a high-powered bike can result in a significant surge of power. This demands a delicate and controlled approach to throttle application, particularly when steering through corners.

Remember, opening the throttle too early or too aggressively can lead to overshooting the corner or missing the apex. The secret lies in timing and finesse - open the throttle gently and only after the bike is well into the turn. This technique is essential not just for controlled cornering but also for achieving success in competitive racing.


Expanding on the concept of throttle steering, consider the subtle use of the front brake to facilitate steering into a corner. Just as a closed throttle shifts the weight forward and compresses the fork, a gentle application of the front brake can enhance this effect. This technique allows the bike to turn into the corner more quickly and efficiently, requiring less handlebar pressure.

motorcycle riding techniques

You might wonder if applying the front brake while steering into a corner would cause the bike to straighten up. The key is in the subtlety of the application. A harsh, abrupt touch will indeed cause the bike to stand up, but a gentle, measured application can assist in steering. The trick is to ease onto the brake lever gently, controlling the pressure with smooth, slow fingers.

We will delve deeper into this technique later, where we explore the art and science of trail-braking.


A significant challenge in steering a motorcycle by pushing and pulling on the handlebar arises from unintentional inputs, like gripping too tightly or leaning heavily on the handlebar. A useful technique to alleviate this issue is to use leg pressure, particularly from the outside leg, to aid in steering the bike into corners.

This method isn't about steering with your knees; rather, it's about redirecting your steering efforts from your hands to your legs. While you still apply pressure to the handlebar, pushing on the fuel tank with your leg allows your hands to relax, minimizing the weight on the handlebar. This relaxation improves the overall quality of your ride, helping to release an overly tight grip on the handlebars.


Your body weight significantly affects motorcycle steering. By shifting your weight, especially onto the inside foot peg, you can influence the bike's direction. This technique is particularly effective when complementing handlebar inputs.

When leaning into a turn, the bike naturally follows your weight shift. Positioning your body towards the inside of the corner, led by your chin and upper body alignment, helps steer the bike more effectively.

On-road riding differs from dirt biking in this regard. On pavement, using your weight to lean into corners is more effective than remaining upright. The key lies in the timing of the weight shift to the inside foot peg, which needs to be precise to avoid early or late corner entry.

Practice this by standing on the pegs while riding. Lifting one foot demonstrates how weight distribution affects steering. In turns, subtle shifts in your body position, especially your hips and shoulders, aid in steering. Ensure you move smoothly across the seat, using your legs rather than tugging on the handlebars.

It's crucial to differentiate between general body movement and specific weight shifting to a foot peg. While moving around on the bike is normal, actively weighting a foot peg is what initiates a turn. Mastery of this technique requires practice, focusing on subtle movements and timing.


An alternative method to tighten your cornering line, apart from closing the throttle, is the technique of rear brake dragging. This method, often employed on racetracks, is particularly effective in left-hand corners due to the placement of the brake pedal.

The rationale behind this advanced motorcycle riding technique is based on the unique dynamics of racetrack riding. When cornering on a racetrack, you're usually operating closer to the traction limit compared to regular street riding. Closing the throttle mid-corner can shift the weight onto the front tyre, which, at high speeds, might already be close to its traction limit. To avoid overloading the front tyre, racers often keep the throttle steady while lightly dragging the rear brake. This method provides additional control during cornering.

It's important to note, however, that simultaneously using the brakes and throttle is a skill specific to track riding and is not typically recommended for street riding. On public roads, the general rule is to ease off the brakes before picking up the throttle, and vice versa. Nevertheless, a subtle application of the rear brake can aid in steering the bike more precisely into the corner.


Steering a motorcycle effectively is about integrating various techniques. It's not just about mastering countersteering but also about how you apply throttle, brakes, use leg pressure, and shift your weight. As you experiment with these techniques, focus on the timing and smoothness of your movements. This integrated approach is what elevates your motorcycle riding from basic to advanced, enhancing control, precision, and enjoyment on the road.

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Fun Facts

Did you know the world's longest motorcycle was over 26 meters long. It was presented and measured at Lakhota lake, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India, on 22 January 2014. The bike was more than 4 m (13 ft) longer than the previous record holder's.

To ensure that his super-stretched motorcycle would be able to perform like a conventional motorbike, the constructor rode it along a road for 100 m (328 ft) without putting his feet down.

Did you know?

The aerodynamic drag on a motorcycle can increase by up to 40% just by the rider sitting upright instead of in a tucked position. It's a wind-resistance thing—like trying to walk through a pool vs. gliding through it!

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Riding a motorcycle is like savouring a five-star Michelin meal when you're absolutely famished. It's an experience that not only satisfies an immediate craving but also leaves a lasting impression. Just like that first bite of an extraordinary dish makes you forget the world around you, so does the initial twist of the throttle. Your focus narrows to the sensation of the bike, the road, and the rhythm of your breathing. It's an immediate way to bring mindfulness into your day.

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So next time you feel weighed down by the demands of life, remember that your two-wheeled 'Michelin experience' awaits you. One session on the road can recalibrate your mood quicker than you can say 'Michelin star.' It's the sort of lifelong journey that never disappoints, always offering new flavours for your soul to relish.

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Forget the fuss of hotels; discover the liberating joy of motorcycle camping with us, and elevate your road trips from memorable to absolutely legendary!

Having the camping gear with you grants the freedom to decide where and how you want to spend your nights, including the option of choosing a hotel bed if desired. Though it's common to camp every day due to the desire for fresh air and the outdoors when you're prepared.

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