I set up this site with an eye on helping beginners get into biking safely and with as few hard lessons as possible. Everyone has to start somewhere and, believe me, you need all the help you can get. Learning to ride a bike is not hard. Learning to ride one well and safely is another story entirely. Mastering the art of motorcycling is something most of us never do and it takes a lifetime of dedicated riding.
So I thought to myself, what are the things that I would have wanted to know when I first started riding? So this article is about the tips I think are most important to know when you start riding.
Controlling a bike and controlling a car is different in a very fundamental way. When you drive a car your body is disconnected from the ride to an extent. Even if you weren’t at the wheel the vehicle would merrily roll along. On a motorcycle things are different; your body is an integral part of the machine. If you want turn you can’t just yank on a wheel, you use your entire body to do it.
This is one of the things that makes riding a bike such an incredible experience. It also introduces another issue – when you ride a bike you go where you look. Look through corners and look for the safe path up ahead, and that’s where you’ll go.
Defender of the Universe
When learning to drive we are all taught about defensive driving, which is good. When it comes to riding a motorcycle you need to be at least twice as defensive. You have no last resort other than your own wits and the agility of your machine.
What does that mean? Treat every other road user as a potential danger. Makes sure you are always visible to other motorists. Signal your intentions and don’t drive in the blindspot of other vehicles, especially large trucks with no rear window.
Remember that if you can’t see the mirror on another vehicle there’s no way the driver can see you in it.
The Dumb Little Things
There are some stupid little mistakes that we all make from time to time that you have to keep in mind. Now, lots of modern bikes aren’t vulnerable to some of these little mistakes. Still, there are bikes from all eras on the road and your first bike may not be a newer model.
The first dumb thing we all have done is forgetting to turn the tap on the fuel tank valve. Many bikes have a valve that you can use to switch between an off, reserve, and on position. Now when you leave the bike overnight or longer you should set it to “off” to avoid leaks. The problem comes when you set off the next day and suddenly have your bike die on you at the first set of lights. Hey, it happens. Just turn the tap to on and go on your way.
Remember to turn off your choke if your bike doesn’t have an automatic one. Forgetting your choke on is a waste of fuel and makes the bike run rich.
Your mirrors must be correctly adjusted for safe riding, but on some bikes this can’t be done by hand, and even if you could it’s not a smart thing to do while in motion. So make a point of checking and adjusting your mirrors before you leave on your journey.