Welcome to the road!
We remember the thrill of our first bike like it was yesterday, but we also remember the fear. The second-guessing ourselves in the moments where we didn’t have the time.
What we needed in those moments was some beginner motorcycle riding tips. And through our years of expertise, we’ve learned what we wish we knew.
So don’t learn the hard way, as we did. Learn the easy way and get our tips below.
1. Look Down the Road
It’s probably been a while since you first started driving a car, right? Even so, do you remember how scary big turns used to look when you were behind the wheel?
Maybe you panicked and wondered if you could really make that turn or maybe you almost overadjusted. If you had a good driving teacher, hopefully, they told you to relax and just look down the road.
The same is true when you’re driving a motorcycle. Except those turns can look even scarier since you’re that much closer to the road.
Some people think they need to lean into the turn (don’t do that!), which is a mistake. But the truth is, it’s just like driving a car.
Look down the road and drive for what’s ahead. It’ll keep you from over adjusting and it makes the whole experience less overwhelming.
2. Look for Road Issues
When we drive a car, it’s easy to just hit a pothole and go “oops”, thinking of the tire alignment. But hit the wrong pothole on a motorcycle and you’re both going flying.
That’s why you not only have to look down the road, but you need to look AT the road as well. Once you get experienced at looking down the road for turns and navigation, you’ll start noticing road issues as well.
Do you see any big shadows on the road? Anything other cars are avoiding?
Look for glints of water as well, they could be masking potholes as puddles – or just places you could slip out.
Basically, anything on the road that’s not the road itself could be fatal. We’ve all seen videos of someone getting a stick in their bike wheel. Luckily for them, bikes only go so fast.
If you get a stick in your wheel spokes, you’re not going to recover from that. Instead of a funny YouTube video, you’ll be looking at a coroners report.
All that to say, avoid road debris and potholes like they’re fatal – which they very well could be.
3. Drive Like No One Sees You
It’s nice when you see a car with a bumper sticker that says “look twice, save a life” but even the people in those cars get into driving patterns.
Ever been driving a car and realized you’re at work and you don’t remember anything about your commute? That’s called passive driving and it happens all the time.
Passive driving doesn’t translate so well for motorcyclists. In fact, you’ll never find a motorcyclist who doesn’t remember their commute. That’s because riding a bike is an active thing. You can’t space out.
You have to be in the moment the entire time, paying attention to the other cars and the road.
Speaking of the other cars, you need to drive defensively. Drive like they can’t see you. Never pass through moving traffic in the middle and be extra careful coming around turns.
This is where motorcycle driving and skiing have a weird connection. On the slopes, if you’re going to “drop in”, as in, come off one trail onto another, you need to look uphill.
In a perfect world, it would be up to the other skiers to see you and reroute themselves. In this world, that’s not how it works.
When you’re turning onto a road or even switching lanes, you need to look uphill and down. Remember “look both ways” from when you were little?
Same idea. You never know when a car that looks stable could all of a sudden switch lanes and swipe you with it.
4. Get the Right Gear
There’s nothing a seasoned biker hates more than seeing someone on a bike in the wrong gear. Short sleeves, no helmet, no jacket? The people that ride that way give all bikers a bad name.
They’re also the ones that give motorcycle riding the fatality statistics it has.
When you’re buying a bike, it can be easy to think to yourself, “Oh, I’ll save up for that helmet/jacket,” and ride without it for a while.
But do so at your own risk. Ideally, you should buy and have the right fitting gear before you so much as register the new title. It’s not just about you, either.
Imagine getting in a wreck with a car. Yes, with a helmet you’re injured but you’re not dead.
If you weren’t wearing protection and you died in that crash – think about how the other person would feel. Even if it was partially their fault.
Involuntary manslaughter is a terrible charge and killing someone makes a huge dent on the subconscious and mental health.
That’s not to mention your family, friends and everyone you’d be leaving behind if you were to die on the road. And all because you weren’t wearing a helmet.
And yes – there are some crashes that are fatal no matter what, but why take the extra risk?
5. Get the Right Shoes
Okay, let’s move away from the macabre stuff and into something less scary, but still important. Footwear! If you live in the desert in Arizona or something, you can skip this point.
But if you sometimes ride in the rain, you’ll need to think about footwear that won’t slip off your petals. Most of the time when and if your foot slips, you can feel your stomach drop and quickly readjust.
But it’s better not to have that problem. Look for motorcycle riding shoes that are wet-riding friendly. You’ll thank us later.
6. Know Your Rights and Know the Laws
Different states have different laws when it comes to riding and certain protections. Some states require you wear some sort of helmet.
Others require that helmet be certified by the Department of Transportation. Imagine having to pay a fine because the cop doesn’t “like” your helmet. Silly, right?
And if you live in a state that doesn’t require helmets, you’re not always off the hook.
For example, some states require you to wear eye protection if you’re not wearing a helmet. Sometimes those cool Raybans won’t cut it.
The best place and time to learn these laws is when you’re taking the class to get your motorcycle license. Your instructor will know all the laws in your state and any intricacies they contain.
Make sure you take notes and ask questions. Maybe you’ll look like the teacher’s pet, but what’s worse: that or a $200 fine? We’ll take the momentary embarrassment, thanks.
7. Learn Your Mileage
Did your bike come with a fuel gauge? Some do and some don’t – and there’s really no rhyme or reason for either.
Some manufacturers don’t like the way the gauge breaks the bike’s visual flow.
If you have one, great, that’s one fewer thing you have to think about on the road. If you don’t, you need to learn how your bike feels, sounds, and even smells when it’s getting low on gas.
Really responsible riders learn exactly how far they can go and never let their bike get so low on fuel that it’s noticeable in any way.
If you’re planning a long trip, make sure you know where fuel stops will be along the way. There are stretches of road and desert that go for fifty miles or more without anywhere to fuel up.
That’s where riding sites and planned rides come in clutch (get it). These bikers have been down these roads, literally, and know what issues might come up.
Heed their warnings. You don’t want to walk for miles, have to buy a fuel container, and walk back down the road – do you?
8. Motorcycle Riding Tips: Keep Your Heels In
When you’re riding and your toes are on the pedals, it feels more natural to let your heels swing out from your body.
But your bike was made with little metal plates where your heels are supposed to rest. Use them! That extra point of contact will make you feel that much more like a part of the bike.
You’ll be a better rider because of this one (okay two) little things.
Be Safe and Be Cautious
As you start riding, the worst thing you can do is get cocky. We know riding is fun. We get the thrill of going fast and feeling the wind whip your hair.
Why do you think we got bikes in the first place? But speed makes driving more dangerous than it has to be. You need to work up to those speeds, especially around other cars or on difficult roads.
You’re no longer in an aluminum bubble that can keep you from hitting the road – drive like it.
Did you like these motorcycle riding tips? There are more where that came from and in every way you could imagine. Want to know where to take your first long ride? Click here.