If you’re anything like me, you took a basic motorcycle class and acquired your endorsement. You can now legally ride a motorcycle! Congratulations!
But that is really only the beginning. Riding a motorcycle involves a lifetime of acquiring a skill set. Or, in other words, it’s a lifetime of learning.
No single article can introduce all of these skills to you; however I wanted to talk about some very basic concepts to get you started. What follows are the top three I wish I learned sooner than I did!
Nothing screams new rider more than when you watch one pull up and try to park their bike.
When learning how to ride, most of the time is spent moving forward. We work on turns, fast stops, clutch control and more, probably in a class with a few other bikes. Then, when we were done for the day, we simply aimed our bike at a convenient spot, and once it was there we turned off the engine! It wasn’t really “parking” at all.
But in the real world, this isn’t how it works. You need to be able to maneuver your motorcycle into a parking spot, preferably in such a way that when you leave you can pull right out (as opposed to backing out.)
This skill isn’t all that fun to work on, but it’s extremely valuable. Find an empty parking lot and practice until you have this down in as few turns as possible. Personally I like to circle around the parking spot until I can back in at the right angle.
Spend some time on this one, you’ll be glad you did!
Adjust your gaze
This was the single most important thing I learned when I first started riding. In the beginning, my eyes were fixed right in front of me, looking about ten feet straight ahead. I always felt as if I were going too fast and this made me tense. However once I began fixing my gaze further out, it was as if time slowed down.
Picture riding in a car down the highway, it’s the difference between looking down at the pavement from a side window and looking out the front windshield. You are going the same speed, but where you look changes your perception of how fast you are going.
On a motorcycle, you have to fix your gaze further out. It’s a hard habit to form at first; you may worry about something jumping out and you not seeing it.
However, even going at a moderate speed, you would not be able to avoid hitting any unexpected object that close. You simply don’t have the time. Fixing your sight further out will allow you to see most of the oncoming hazards you have time to avoid. This will also slow down your overall perception of how fast you are going.
Then you can relax more and enjoy the ride.
Make turns into straight lines
We have all learned that a motorcycle leans in to a turn, however that does not mean we need to hug all the curves! When you are driving a car, you have to stay in your lane, so this is somewhat necessary. However that same one lane is actually not one, but three separate lanes on a motorcycle!
And you can make use of all three when going into a twisty.
Find some good YouTube videos on finding the apex of a turn. Essentially what you are doing is cutting across the lane in a way that keeps your bike going in more of a straight line, rather than hugging the curve in a lean.
Remember, riding a motorcycle is a lifetime learning process. No matter how many miles you put on your bike, there is always something new you can learn. If your area offers an advanced skills class, take it! It’ll be well worth your investment even if you only walk away with one new concept.
The more you increase your skills, the more your confidence will grow.
My next blog will talk about commuting to work on your motorcycle.
Until then; remember, ride safe, ride smart, and have fun!
David Ianetta was born and raised in Boston, MA. After moving around in his younger years, he now lives in North Carolina. David has a passion for riding motorcycles,often exploring the scenic back roads of NC with is wife, Rika, who rides her own along side him.
David also writes a Daily Blog for Freedom Biker Church called, “Daily Rock“ located at www.freedombikerchurch.com and is a contributing writer for Southeastern Rider magazine.