Motorcycle riding is all about practice, you won’t read your way to better riding your bike, you have to get out and do it. Below is my list of riding skills that should be mandatory in motorcycle learning schools – but are not (in most of them). Read them, learn them and practice them regularly.
I’m constantly amazed at how many riders didn’t hear about countersteering, one of the basic principles of riding and cornering a motorcycle. Some do it not even knowing it. Anyway, push on the right bar to go right and push on the left bar to go left, easy as that! If you never heard about this before it may sound impossible, but once you get the hang of it, it will become your routine. You can read more about it here so I don’t go into too many technical details. Also, be sure to check out Keith Code’s “Twist of the Wrist II” as it is really well explained there.
Rear brake stabilization
Not only does using your rear brake help you to stop the bike sooner (for those of you who use it), but it also makes you bike much more controllable on U-turn’s and slow maneuvering while lane splitting. Try it by dragging the rear brake (gently) next time in these situations.
Blipping the throttle on downshifts
Not even considering the cool factor here, blipping the throttle (rev matching) on downshifts keeps your shifting much smoother, and after some practice (on an empty parking space) you’ll realize it not that hard. Pull the clutch, downshift and “blip” the throttle just before you let the clutch out, this evens the engine RPM-s with the tire speed. Don’t overdo it and “blip” too much, the point is to bring back the RPM to where they were before shifting.
If you wish to keep you upshifts super smooth and fast on heavy accelerating, shifting without using the left lever is the way to go. When you want to change gear, roll-off the throttle and at the same time pull up the gear lever. I personally don’t use clutches upshifts too much; I find it more for sport oriented riders. But any riding skill is good to know.
Look where you want to go
Target fixation is real. This is one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents. You go where you look, so don’t get lost in your thoughts, keep your eyes and mind on the road! Also, while cornering be sure to look at the exit point of the curve, the bike tends to go where you look.
Hold on to the tank
Grip the tank with your knees while riding and eliminate numb hands and wrist fatigue. This is especially important during cornering and heavy breaking. Of course, this also depends on the type of bike you are riding, the whole point is to take the weight off the handle bars, and not feed them with unwanted steering inputs.
Every one of these 6 skills could be an article on their own, but we’ll leave that for another time.
I hope I gave you something new to read and learn, keep safe and practice regularly.
Did I miss anything super important? Got something to add to the list (I’m sure you do). Please share in the comments below.
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