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.

Target Acquisition

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.

Adjustment Bureau

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.

Checklisting

We are all in a hurry sometimes, but take the time to do a pre-ride inspection at least at the start of the day. Luckily, I have another article on the site that details regular maintenance, which includes some of the things you need to inspect on a daily basis . So go check it out.

En-Gauge

Does your bike have a fuel gauge? Great. Lots of bikes don’t have one, so it’s very important that you learn how much mileage your bike gets and when you should start looking for a gas station. Relying on your reserve capacity can really catch you out if you are too far away from a place to refuel.

One way to do this is to fill up your bike and then ride 10 miles on the odometer. Then fill it up again and work out your mileage based on how much fuel was used. Remember that the type of traffic, terrain, and your throttle hand will influence the measurement.

Protection Racket

Large parts of my site are dedicated to safety and safety gear, and this is one of the most important lessons that beginners should learn. There is no such thing as a bike trip that does not require safety gear. It doesn’t matter if it’s 100 miles or a 100 feet – jeans, a T-shirt, and a helmet do not make for adequate protection. It’s your choice, but you know what the right way is.

Moonwalking

Pick the right shoes. Easy right? Well, you can go have a look at my footwear reviews for some inspiration. In general, though, there are two things you need to worry about – grip and toughness.

The road surface can be pretty dodgy, so you need to make sure the shoes will grip well even on slippery stuff.

On the top of the shoe you need to make sure that there is some material that will protect the shoe from the shifter. Purpose-made bike shoes and boots often have a special pad for that, but your expensive sneakers don’t. No points for guessing which is the better choice.

Bottom Lines

Biking is fun and there is no reason not to dodge some of the less-pleasant parts of the hobby. By getting a heads-up you’ll hopefully maximize the fun and minimize the fuss.