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Motorcycle Riding Tips for Starting Out

Don't fixate on the on-coming traffic. Scan the road for possible hazards such as potholes, manhole covers, pedestrians, etc.


>Starting Out
Think like a rider.
Choose a motorcycle.
Learn basics of Clutch, Throttle and Brakes.

Practice riding
Throttle & Clutch
Parking Lot practice
Sample motorcycle exercises

Low Traffic riding
Shifting gears
Riding conditions
Traffic situations

Progressive riding
Counter steering
Highway riding
Wind Turbulence

Carry a Passenger

Click here to get into the Ride Mind!

Choosing a motorcycle

Ideally it's best to begin with a small engine displacement motorcycle. But economically you may want a bike that gives you room to improve without outgrowing it too quickly.

400 to 600 cc motorcycles are popular for beginner to intermediate riders. The style of motorcycle can vary from cruiser to sport bike.

Personal preference and how much weight you can handle will ultimately sway your decision. Consider your height and ability to reach the ground. Being shorter than average I wanted a beginner motorcycle that inspired confidence in my ability to touch the ground and control the weight.

I practiced slow speed motorcycle maneuvers on a Yamaha XS400 with slightly lowered suspension. Then I bought a Buell Blast with controls that are ergonomically friendly for small riders and beginners. Categorized as a standard style bike, a modified Buell Blast has many sportbike qualities.

Popular beginner sportbikes include the Suzuki Bandit 500, Suzuki SV650, Ducati Monster and Kawasaki Ninja 500.

To help decide which beginner motorcycle would suit you, ask around and check out message boards and websites for other opinions and experiences.




See below for

Basic Tips and Techniques

to get started

Riding A Motorcycle. motorcycling online
Think like a rider

Put yourself in the rider's seat, even when you're not. With time and practice it will become instinct to stay alert and expect the unexpected.

How do you do that?

When riding in a car, practice scanning the road as if you were riding a motorcycle. Look for hazards and potentially harmful situations.

Road debris and uneven pavement can be dangerous to motorcyclists.

Car drivers don't realize how much we rely on a clear roadway. Motorcyclists need to use the entire lane to maneuver around everyday objects such as potholes, manhole covers, tar patches and spillage.

Have a quick tip?
Got a question?

Comments & Questions

Viewing Tip:

Mouse-over photos & diagrams for additional information.

Beginners should choose a motorcycle that fits. Feet should touch the ground and controls should be within grasp.

Learn the clutch and brake controls with the engine off to get familiar with the motorcycle.

Good posture and balance are important for safe motorcycle riding.

Get familiar with a motorcycle without distraction. Practice off road before taking it to the street.

Learn the Basics

Straddle the bike and sit with feet firmly on the ground. You may put both feet down or maintain the three point position; left foot on ground and right foot on the rear brake pedal.

Riding posture - Head is always up, looking where you want to go. Wrists are flat on the handgrips with right hand covering the front brake lever when necessary.

Using Brakessmall pylon
Before learning to go, know how to stop. The best way to initially try the brakes is to have someone push you on the motorcycle in neutral, without the engine running.

Buddy Push
Start on level surface with both feet on the ground, holding the weight of the motorcycle. Bring left foot onto footpeg as someone begins pushing from behind. At a fast walking pace have them give your motorcycle a strong push then let go.

Be aware of good posture to keep your balance and get a feel for the bike's brakes. If you start to lose balance or veer off course, just look where you want to go to maintain that direction.

Remember to straighten the front wheel before clamping on the front brake. Many beginners fall because they squeeze the front brake lever while the bike's wheel is turned, causing it to dive sharply.

Use the Buddy Push (engine not running) for the following braking exercises.

Exercise - Rear brake small pylon
Practice using the rear brake while in motion. Gently apply the rear brake pedal on the right foot lever. Get a feel for how the motorcycle reacts with varied pressure on the pedal.

The rear brake helps stabilize the bike, which can help during low speed maneuvers.

Exercise - Front brake small pylon
The front brake has most of the stopping power, especially during emergency braking.

For the buddy push exercise, ensure the front wheel is straight and gently squeeze the right front brake lever. (Try this exercise again using both brakes together. Notice the increase in braking power.)

After learning the basics of slow speed stopping you'll be more confident during the next practice exercises.

Clutch Control small pylon
In conjunction with the left foot shifter controlling the transmission gears, the clutch controls how much power transfers to the rear wheel.

Clutch lever mechanics, located on the left handlebar

Lever pulled in all the way
- no power to rear wheel.
Friction point
- begin to release clutch lever, feel small amount of power to rear wheel.
Friction zone
- gradually release clutch as more power is delivered to rear wheel.
Released- clutch lever fully released with all power delivered to the rear wheel through throttle input.

For slow speed maneuvers maintain friction zone by slightly feather the clutch.
This provides enough power to move forward slowly.

If engine bogs down, give more throttle to compensate.
If rev's are high, release clutch extremely slow & smooth.

Exercise - Moving Forward small pylon
Have motorcycle running and in neutral. Apply front brake and have feet planted on the ground. With head up, look straight ahead (where you want to go).

Pull in the clutch and put motorcycle in first gear. (Assuming bike was in neutral, first gear is just half a click down.)

Release front brake and slowly feed out clutch until you feel the friction point.

From here, release the clutch gradually keeping the revs up by rolling gently on the throttle until the motorcycle creeps forward.

Move ahead slowly and bring your feet onto the pegs. To stop, squeeze clutch lever, straighten wheel and apply front brake gradually and smoothly. Put down your feet to balance the bike.

With practice this exercise will improve your throttle and clutch smoothness. Confidence in the speed control of the motorcycle enables you to practice more in-depth exercises.

Novice Links

Beginner Bikes

Canada Safety Council - Gearing Up
(Includes school search)

Motorcycle Tips & Techniques
(not just for novice riders)

Get more Links here.


British Columbia - home of - Canadian motorcycle enthusiastsLive in B.C.?

Visit Local riding section to read about my experience as a new motorcyclist in British Columbia.

Find local information about learning to ride a motorcycle.

Ready for the next level?

Practice riding
Throttle & Clutch
Parking Lot practice
motorcycle exercises

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