Do you love the slick, powerful look of motorcycles but have no idea how to go about riding one? Well, you're not alone. New riders often feel butterflies when stepping on a bike for the first time.
SA1NT is all about arming the risk-takers of the world. We love those bold individuals who live on the edge of chaos and control, but even the bravest of souls needs to learn how to ride a bike properly.
Fortunately, motorcycles are way less intimidating than they look. Anyone can learn to ride one, and with enough practice, everything will quickly become second nature. That's when the real fun begins.
We've put together this guide to help make those beginning steps as easy as possible. So relax, remember to have fun, and embrace the process.
WHO CAN RIDE A MOTORCYCLE?
The beauty of motorcycling is that just about anyone can do it. You don't have to be physically fit, a certain weight or a particular height. Motorcycles come in all shapes and sizes so there's bound to be something for everyone.
Obviously, someone who is deathly afraid of crashing shouldn't be riding a bike. We're not saying you should be Evel Knievel out there, because caution is necessary for owning a motorcycle, but a stressed-out rider won't be in control and is likely to make poor decisions on the road.
IS RIDING A MOTORCYCLE HARD? FOLLOW THESE 7 STEPS
#1: CHOOSE THE RIGHT MOTORCYCLE FOR YOU
As a brand new rider, it's important to choose something that lets you feel comfortable and in control. Your first motorcycle should be below 600cc so you can handle it with relative ease. Heavier bikes don't corner as well and aren't recommended for beginners.
Comfort is important because it means you're loose and focusing on the road. You don't want to feel cramped or stretched out in any case, especially when you're still learning how to ride.
Before every ride, give your bike a once over to make sure it's safe and up to code. You don't have to be an expert. There are a ton of five-minute guides showing exactly what you'll need to look for.
Check for fluid leaks and make sure the brakes, throttle, and clutch lever are all good to go. You can also test the chain tension and the tire pressure. Your mirrors should be sorted well before you take off.
#3: PICK THE APPROPRIATE MOTORCYCLE GEAR
Wearing the right gear is crucial to motorcycle safety. Sometimes things go random on the road, and the only thing between you and the ground is what you're wearing at the time.
You'll need to have a helmet, pants, gloves, boots and jacket on every time you ride. A good way to remember this is the simple acronym: A.T.G.A.T.T. All The Gear, All The Time. It could be the difference between a cool story to tell your mates or a life-altering event.
Thankfully motorcycle clothing has come a long way. You can find denim motorcycle jeans that look great but are still insanely tough. Likewise, the latest motorcycle jackets combine style and protection in a way that would make non-riders anywhere envious.
#4: KNOW YOUR BRAKES
Unlike a car which has just the one brake pedal, you'll be using both a rear brake and a front brake on your bike. This might sound a bit scary and technical, but it's quite a simple adjustment.
The front brakeis controlled by the lever on your right handlebar. Squeezing it down controls the braking, which will be a familiar concept if you're used to riding a bicycle. This brake makes up about 70% of your stopping power.
The rear brakeis a pedal that sits on your right side that's controlled with your foot. Stopping or slowing will involve the even use of both brakes. Step on the rear brake with your foot and slowly pull on the front brake in a controlled movement.
Just like a car it's important to avoid slamming the brakes down. Aim for a smooth movement or the bike will jerk and lose balance. Before your first proper ride, try feeling out the brakes to get a sense of their power. You can do this while the bike is standing still: roll forward then with your right foot tap the rear break to get a feel for it.
#5: LEARN PROPER CONTROL OF CLUTCH AND THROTTLE
The throttle is basically your go button. You've probably seen people in movies rip that thing with everything they've got, but the reality is quite different. A little twist can go a long way, so be gentle or you'll find yourself losing balance.
The lever on your left handlebar is the clutch, which engages and disengages the bike's transmission and engine. You'll need to practice squeezing it gently so you can engage the gears smoothly. Like the throttle, it shouldn't be pulled with full force.
New motorcycle riders find the concept of changing gears intimidating, but it's a lot easier than you might think. Motorcycles shift gears by moving a lever up and down with your left foot. The gear order from top to bottom is as follows:
When you first start riding this will probably seem a bit foreign, especially if you've never used manual transmission before, but like everything else it comes with practice. Unlike a car, bikes can only change one gear at a time, which actually helps if you're still in the learning phase.
#6: EXERCISE BALANCING AND TURNING
A motorcycle is very in tune with your body movements. A sudden shift can throw the bike's balance, so be conscious of staying with the bike as it moves.
Riding a motorcycle in a straight line is fairly simple but turning requires the use of your body's weight and momentum. When rounding a corner, lean with the bike rather than fight it. You will need to get very close to the ground on wide turns which takes some getting used to.
Balancing on two wheels will seem daunting at high speeds, but just like a bicycle, you'll get a feel for the motorcycle's natural movements in time.
There's no substitute for practice. Be patient, build up your skills, and don't forget to enjoy yourself along the way.
BEGINNER RIDERS MUST NOT FORGET
THE IMPORTANCE OF MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE, LICENCE, AND REGISTRATION. In Australia, it's compulsory to have motorcycle insurance. The policy you get will depend on things like your age, gender the bike you ride, and how often you use it. You'll also need a valid motorcycle license to purchase insurance. Reading up on the legal requirements in your area for insurance, licenses, and registration is highly recommended.
DON'T TAKE PASSENGERS UNTIL YOU CAN Your friends might ask to bum a ride while you're still learning the ropes. They'll just have to wait if you're not ready yet, because both of you will be put in danger by deciding to take your chances. Check out our 11 Tips for Riding on the Back of a Motorcycle if you want to ride safely with a buddy.
STAY AWAY FROM THE HIGHWAYS FOR NOW Until you're a more confident rider, freeways should be avoided. You're still getting used to shifting gears and changing lanes, so don't make the mistake of going beyond your skill level. It all comes in time.
BE AWARE OF THE WEATHER Rain has a big effect on bike riding. The key is to drive slowly, take turns with ease, and brake earlier than you normally would. Your tires won't grip a wet road as easily so make sure to account for it. A waterproof outer layer is an excellent way to stay warm during those wet rides. You can easily find rain gear specifically made for motorcycles like this Armored Puffer Jacket, which keeps you dry without skimping on protection.
THE EASY PART OF RIDING MOTORCYCLES
A motorcycle is just a bike with an engine at the end of the day. They might seem like wild, untameable beasts but anyone can learn to ride one. It just takes some practice, patience, and the right attitude.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO LEARN TO RIDE A MOTORCYCLE?
The learning process for riding a motorcycle is different for everyone. You'll need to adapt to the motorcycle's weight and controls to the point where it becomes muscle memory. A first time rider will need about 2-8 weeks of daily practice to ride a motorcycle safely.
CAN I LEARN MOTORCYCLE RIDING FROM A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER?
While friends and family members might help you learn to drive a car, biking is a different story. There are just too many risks involved when you learn from an amateur, and you're much better off taking a motorcycle safety course.
HOW CAN I GUARANTEE MY SAFETY ON A MOTORCYCLE?
Motorcycling is about finding that middle ground between chaos and control. If you keep good habits, maintain situational awareness, and use common sense you can keep safe while still having a good time.
As motorcycle riders you'll need be on high alert. Distracted car drivers are a big danger so keep your distance, have your eyes peeled, and always be aware of your surroundings.
All the advice we've talked about is designed to make you a safe and confident rider. Most experienced riders know the importance of gearing up, so check out our awesome range of motorcycle jackets and motorcyle jeans that keep you protected while putting a swagger in your step.