Friday, October 19, 2007

Getting Experience Riding Your Motorcycle

Ride on straight roads.
Ride on twisty roads.
Ride slow.
Ride fast.
Put miles on your bike.
The best way to get experience riding a motorcycle is to ride a motorcycle.

But don't ride beyond your comfort zone. Initially, stay on familiar roads at moderate speeds until your are throughly accustomed to your motorcycle. My advice is to ride alone, vice riding in a group with other motorcyclists, at least initially. Do this until you have achieved a level of familiarity where you don't have to be conscious about shifting, braking, or any of the other mechanics of riding. When riding in a group, many riders and especially new ones, feel peer pressure to "keep up" with other, more experienced riders. Keeping up can tempt new riders to ride beyond their capabilities and possibly make a mistake. Avoid this. Ride alone until you've gained experience.

As you gain experience, concentrate on several aspects of riding:
  • Be smooth.
    Concentrate on clutch, shift, and throttle so that each up shift is so smooth that the only way you can tell you've shifted gears is aurally. You won't do this every time, and it's nearly impossible when you're accelerating briskly. But when you're not in a hurry and out of traffic where you can concentrate on your riding skills, be smooth.
  • Exercise throttle control.
    Related to the above, consciously practice opening and closing the throttle in controlled, smooth, movements. Avoid snapping the throttle open. Avoid slamming the throttle closed.
  • Be balanced.
    God's laws of physics ensures neophyte riders can keep a motorcycle upright at speed. The gyroscopic effects of the rotating tires provides stability at speed. An easy way to differentiate new riders from experienced is to watch them start off from a stop light. An experience rider has both feet on the pegs nearly as soon as the bike begins to move. A new rider will "walk" his bike with both feet for several yards before putting them on the pegs. The next time you're at a stop light, watch a motorcyclist and determine whether he is a new or experienced rider.

Check out these books on motorcycle riding from

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