What The Motorcycling Novice Should Pay Ateention To

What The Motorcycling Novice Should Pay Ateention To
You may experience now what I did a few years ago: you have finally scraped together the money and courage to buy the motorcycle that you have dreamed for long. There is just one problem – you are an amateur rider, and that bike looks big and scary. This is a completely rational response. A motorcycle can be an intimidating thing, since you are basically sitting on what is going to feel like a rocket the first time you open the throttle.


What you will need is to have well-deserved confidence. The first step to gaining this is to go on a training course. You might have well-meaning friends and relatives that want to teach you, but few of them have sat down and really considered all the different skills you will need and the dangers you might face. After my introductory course, I spoke to several seasoned bikers who were unaware of several of the finer points on safety and skill that were presented. It is more than worth the time and expenditure.


Next, you need to hone your skills. This does not mean going on a long breakfast run down a tricky road with the local club – this means you find a quiet spot and practice slower riding. Simply start accelerating, go up a gear or two, then come to a stop in first gear. When you are comfortable with that, try to stop as balanced as possible, until you can do it with just a light touch of your foot (or even better – just the big toe). See if you can bring the bike to a full stop, then gingerly set your foot down – the foot is not there to step the bike with, the brakes are. Then, pick a spot you want your front wheel to stop on, and practice until you can stop lightly on a dime. By now you should be getting a very good idea of the balance of your bike, and feel much less scared of tipping it over. At this point, start picking obstacles to circle around and progress to figures-of-eight.


You should now feel much more comfortable and in control of your motorcycle, which means you have gained in deserved confidence. In fact, you might be starting to have fun, so the time has come to challenge yourself again. Do all the previous, but increase speed while remaining in control. You want to do nice tight figures-of-eight and good hard stops, as well as quick swerves. These will keep you alive or at least out of the hospital. Motorcycles are fast and dangerous, and I have had incidents where being able to brake quickly or swerve has kept my motorcycle and I out of harm’s way.


To take your skills to a higher level, practice every time before you go for a lengthy ride. Take 15 minutes before you hit the open road and do manoeuvring exercises. You will see your skills increase, and become one of those people others talk about as being able to really handle their bike.


One last note. Buy the best gear you can afford. Borrow money if you need to. Being someone who has walked away from a crash which would have put someone in jeans and a T-shirt in hospital, I can attest to its value.


Paul Otter is a passionate motorcycle tourer and keen on helping others to rider better and safer. More articles may be found at http://www.openthrottletouring.com

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