Millions of Americans revel in the joy of high-speed, two-wheeled travel. Indeed, around 8.5 million motorcycles are now registered to people and organizations around the US.
However, you can guarantee that a huge range of abilities and experience-levels exists among them. Whether you’re a complete newbie or a grizzled old gearhead, there’s always more to learn.
You can never do enough to become safer and smoother on the roads. It’s like any skill: the more you learn, the better you become.
Getting to grips with the mass of motorcycle tricks out there can help you do exactly that. Unsatisfied with your current level of motorcycle mastery? We want to help.
Read on to learn all about 8 tricks to try out on your next ride.
1. Aim At Your Target
Here’s a quick, easy and effective motorcycle trick that might just save your life.
It boils down to this. Look at the point on the road where you want to go in order to get there. Where you look is where you go.
We know, it’s hardly a ground-breaking idea. Yet it’s a fundamental skill to master when you find yourself in trouble on the bike.
Imagine going for a ride and having to dodge around an obstruction that comes out of no-where. Inexperienced riders are often distracted by the obstacle and take their eyes off the road. They’ll panic and look at the object instead of where they need to go.
Avert disaster by looking where you want to go.
Your eyes set the target and, miraculously, the bike moves there accordingly.
2. Pull the Clutch with Two Fingers
This tip is unlikely to revolutionize your riding experience.
But it might just make you that bit safer on the roads. Think about your riding style and the placement of your hands on the bars and levers.
Most riders move about with four fingers resting on the clutch.
Now, there’s nothing wrong if you do the same. All those fingers make it nice and easy to depress the lever and shift gears. For some bikes with a stiff clutch level that can make all the difference!
The downside, though, is that you sacrifice a level of control over the bike.
After all, it’s impossible to have a solid grasp of the left handlebar with only a thumb hooked underneath it. The next time you’re out and about on your bike, try pulling the clutch with just two fingers instead.
It might feel awkward at the outset, but that added control over the bike might save your life somewhere down the line. If the clutch is too stiff to make this approach feasible, then invest in some cable lube to make it easier to pull with fewer fingers.
3. Pull the Brake With Two Fingers
Here’s another two-finger motorcycle trick to master.
This time, though, it’s all about the front brake.
You know as well as anybody how powerful it can be. Using the front brake incorrectly or at the wrong time can spell disaster when you’re traveling at high speed. You can flip the bike over the front wheel and cause yourself serious injuries in the process.
Using only two fingers to pull the brake will reduce that likelihood and help you stay in control. Use your index and middle fingers to pull, while keeping the others firmly around the accelerator.
Ease into the brake before pulling on the lever as hard as possible. Do that and you’re on a one-way ticket to trouble.
Remember to call upon the rear brake as well. It might not be ideal in instances where swift deceleration is required, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it in hard braking situations.
4. Enjoy More Balance With the Back Brake
The laws of physics make going slowly on two wheels a challenge.
Anybody that lacks decent balance is going to struggle, which is bad news when you’re trying to work your way through traffic on your homeward commute. After all, the ability to skip between lanes is one of the primary advantages of riding a bike!
You want to be able to make the most of it.
But that’s easier said than done when you’re trying to maneuver a 400lb machine through a 3-foot gap going at 10kph. To add insult to injury you’ve got angry drivers in expensive cars on either side.
The last thing you want to do is clip a wing mirror or scratch their paintwork on your way past…not that they’d be able to catch you…
Dragging your rear brake slightly will help you succeed in the endeavor. For one thing, you’re ready and waiting for an emergency stop, should you need to do it. For another, you’ll push the weight forwards and feel more balanced as you go.
5. Upshift Without Using the Clutch
Strange as it might sound, you don’t always need to use the clutch when you’re shifting up a gear.
Here’s how to do it without the clutch:
Imagine that you’re on the highway and accelerating. You’re at the point where you’d about to shift up a gear and would normally pull the clutch. Forget the clutch, though.
Instead, use your toe to apply slight upward pressure under the lever. Ease back on the throttle while still pushing up with your toe. You should feel it enter gear, at which point you apply the accelerator again.
This trick might take a bit of time to get down to a tee. It also may be easier on certain motorcycle brands as well.
Once you master it, though, you’ll be shifting upwards with far greater ease and smoothness. Better still, the clutch should wear out more slowly over time as well.
6. Ride-On Your Balls (Of Your Feet)
This one’s another tip that’ll help you stay in better control while riding.
Position the balls of your feet on the footpegs when you’re on long rides on the open road.
You’ll enjoy more control, better balance, and improved handling (by being able to press down on either side). By lifting and lowering your feet you’ll also facilitate the bike’s suspension system, helping you navigate bumpy and uneven roads.
Just remember to cover the rear brakes in congested, traffic-heavy areas. You’ll be using the brake a lot in these situations, which makes being on the balls of your feet less practical (and even a little dangerous).
7. Use Your Legs When Braking
Your legs can play a key role in staying in control of the bike.
Because they help take the weight off your hands.
Apply too much weight to the handlebars and you’ll find yourself in less control. But think about the forces you experience in certain situations like breaking in traffic.
Your weight is distributed forward, making it almost impossible not to lean heavily onto your hands. The harder you brake, the greater the effect and the less control you have of the bike.
In those situations, you need to treat your motorcycle like a horse! Squeeze your legs together on either side of the tank. This will have an instant remedial effect, preventing you from being forced forward and taking the weight off your hands.
For some assistance in the process, certain products can be applied to the tank to make it grip more easily. Of course, the more grip you have, the easier it is to stop sliding forward.
8. Pop a Wheelie
Here’s one for more advanced riders out there who’re on the hunt for tricks of the ‘stunt’ variety. Keep in mind wheelies are considered a stunt and can be very dangerous.
Wheelies are also often illegal. Even if there is no specific law against it, you can be cited for reckless driving. If you’re going to give a wheelie a try, do it on private property or on a desolate road. Never do tricks or stunts in traffic or on a busy street.
But it’s still a classic trick and can be exhilarating in the right conditions. They are used on both motorcycles and bicycles alike to show off and have some fun.
Kudos if you’re able to master them.
We’re going to describe the process for a pump/clutch wheelie. These are relatively basic, and any bike should handle them okay without needing too much power. Here’s the process to get the front wheel off the floor:
- Ride along in first gear somewhere under 20kph.
- Press hard on the front brake for a brief moment before releasing it.
- Open up the throttle and pull the handlebars up towards you.
Voila, with a bit of practice you’ll be powering wheelies in no time.
It goes without saying that you should be exceptionally careful here. It’s all too easy to accelerate too hard and lose control of the bike. Excess power will cause the bike to flip backward, potentially causing serious bodily harm.
Looking to go even further in the air? Check out this real-life flying motorcycle.
Try These Motorcycle Tricks!
Millions of people ride a motorcycle in the United States.
Yet like anything in life, each person will have different levels of experience and ability on the bike. Some will be total beginners; others will be seasoned pros.
No matter where you fall along that spectrum of experience and expertise, though, there’s always room for improvement. Hopefully, the motorcycle tricks in this post will help you raise your riding game.
Want to make sure you stay safe on the roads?
Click here to read all about the essential safety gear you need.