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Old 05-08-2005, 01:48 PM   #1
Din
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: dont talk about it, be about it.
Feedback Rating: (1)
Posts: 2,160

Experience: 10+ years

Bike(s):
GSXR with CHROME PACKAGE









How To Ride A Motorcycle

taken from gixxer.com


How To Ride A Motorcycle
It may be important to note, at this point, that the best way to learn how to ride a bike is to have someone who knows how show you...and a motorcycle instructor is the best person for that job. Go to a riding school!

What is a motorcycle?

A motorcycle (or motorbike) is essentially an engine with two wheels attached to it, a seat, fuel tank and handlebars. Because there isn't a lot of extraneous material, motorcycles generally have a very high power to weight ratio when compared to other forms of land transport, and this means that even a cheap motorcycle will out-accelerate most cars.

Starting out

The basic elements of riding a motorbike are quite simple to grasp. The trick is putting the elements together in a coordinated fashion, while staying upright, and most importantly being aware of your surroundings. Riding a motorbike is not like driving a car, and any motorcyclist will tell you that the first thing anyone (who doesn't ride) generally says upon discovering you are a rider is something along the lines of "it's so dangerous" and then they will proceed (in graphic detail) to describe a horror story of rider and/or motorcycle destruction. Be prepared for this, and learn to ignore it. Do not, however, ignore the grain of truth - motorcycling is not as safe as being cocooned in a car, and motorcyclists who aren't aware of what is going on around them won't get much of a chance to repeat this mistake. If you already drive a car, then you will have developed some (but probably not much) road sense. If not, then the first step is especially important for you:

1. Understand Road Sense

Road sense is the ability to judge distances and speed, understand your surroundings, and position yourself on the road. On a motorcycle, positioning can mean the difference between seeing a potential hazard and becoming part of it. If the rule is to drive on the left-hand side of the road, the best position to ride in is the clear patch to the left of the center line (the right tire track, in other words). This will give you a buffer zone from the edge of the road, and keep you off the oil slick in the middle of the lane. You will also have a better view of side streets.

When riding behind a car, make sure they can see you - don't sit in blind spots. Use the two-second rule - the car in front should pass an object on the side of the road no less than two seconds before you do, and this gap should be four seconds in wet weather.

Be visible, and assertive (as opposed to aggressive). If you stick closely to the side of the road, cars will often try to push past you, especially if you are riding a bit cautiously (as you tend to do when learning).

Learn to anticipate! Watch what drivers are doing; is that oncoming Volvo driver looking at the street they are about to turn directly across your path to get to?

2. The Necessary Equipment

A helmet - In most places riding a motorcycle without a helmet is illegal, so you'll need one of these. A motorcycle helmet should be one that fits your head well - ask the salesman for advice about helmets, because a strange fact is that most people have a head that seems to fit best in one particular brand of helmet. Try a few on before you buy.

Gloves and boots - Whatever you do, don't go riding in sneakers or thongs or bare feet. But a pair of boots that give good ankle protection, and get a pair of leather gloves. The trick with gloves is not to buy a pair that fit snugly on your fingers - they should be a bit longer than your digits. When you are on the bike, and opening the throttle, you will see why.

The leather jacket - synonymous with riding a motorcycle, the leather jacket is the symbol that you are a real bikie (or biker). These days, there are synthetic jackets that offer good protection from the weather and the road, but who can deny that certain something, that dangerous edge, a leather jacket imparts on even the most harmless individual…

You can also purchase full leather suits, or separate leather pants. At a minimum, always wear a helmet, gloves, boots, a jacket and jeans or pants made of natural fibers.

3. Getting Ready to Rumble

Alright, you're dressed to the nines in your smart new motorcycling gear, and parked in front of you is a probably not very new machine (if it's your first bike, a good idea is to buy one you don't mind dropping on its side…).

Visually inspect the bike. Are the tires inflated, is the chain at the right tension, is there anything hanging off it that shouldn't be? You should have had a good read of the owner's manual by now, so make sure the bike is ready to go. Make sure there is sufficient fuel, and oil, and that the lights work.

Sit on the bike, raise the sidestand, and start the engine. A good idea is to leave the bike in gear when parking it, so make sure it is in neutral. Develop a routine - sidestand up, clutch in, gear neutral, engine on.

Let the bike warm up, and check that the strap on your helmet is done up. Do the mirrors let you see behind you?

There are four levers and one throttle to be manipulated. Usually, the clutch is on the left handlebar and the front brake lever is on the right handlebar. The gear lever is often on the left side of the bike, in front of your left foot, and the rear brake lever is on the other side. The gear lever should fit above the top of your foot, with your arches on the footpedals, and you should be able to click the gear lever up or down easily. You should also be able to easily compress the rear brake lever with your other foot with minimal movement (a word of caution - don't try clicking the gear lever and depressing the rear brake lever at the same time when you're not moving).

The throttle is on the right hand side, and needs to be twisted towards you to accelerate.

4. Let's Get Moving

There is one thing you must learn to do - TURN YOUR HEAD. When pulling out onto a road, or changing lanes, turn your head and glance beside and behind you. Motorbikes have a huge blind spot, and this is a life-saving habit to develop. That said, let's get moving:

With the engine running and the bike in neutral, pull in the clutch with your left hand. Click the gear lever into first gear (whether you have to click up or down will depend on your bike). As you (slowly at first, speed will come later) release the clutch, wind the throttle towards you gently - not much, just enough to keep the bike from stalling. As the gear catches, the engine revolutions will drop, and you will need to wind the throttle on a bit more. Now you are moving, if you haven't stalled. Pull the clutch in, at the same time pushing the throttle forwards (really it's letting it spring back to zero throttle, but don't let go of it), and with the fingers of your right hand pull in the front brake and stop. Practice starting, moving off, and stopping. Remember to keep the clutch in when the bike is in gear and you want to stop. When moving, grip the fuel tank with your knees and keep your upper body relaxed, so it can move with the bike.

Once you feel confident, you can increase your speed and use more gears. Keep your head up, be aware of your surroundings, and don't look at your hands to see what they are up to. When slowing down, "blip" the throttle when the clutch is pulled in and as you change down a gear - this will help the gears mesh, and it sounds good too (listen to bikes changing down gears and you will hear that blipping sound).

When braking, apply more pressure to the front brake than the rear. The rear brake is really only to keep the bike steady, and to assist the main braking of the front. In wet weather, you usually need to apply a more balanced front and rear brake combination.

5. Cornering

Cornering is one of the main joys of motorcycling, and a good corner is great fun. Try it and you'll see what I mean.

When approaching a corner, ensure you are in the right gear to give you some acceleration out of it. Slow down, keep your head up and look through the apex. Don't be afraid to lean when cornering - go with the bike, keep your head vertical but don't try to sit up when the bike is leaning over, unless you want to pick it up and change direction. Mid-corner, that could be a foolish thing to do (unless you are avoiding an obstacle). Point your chin and inside shoulder where you want to go and keep your arms relaxed - forearms parallel to the ground.

Position yourself so that you won't run wide, or cut the corner. It is strongly recommended that you study cornering, either through a motorcycle training center, or even by buying videos or on the Internet. Cornering is something of an art, and it is important not to get into bad habits, such as looking down at the road directly in front of you, a common error.

The principle of steering a bike through a corner is known as counter-steering. Essentially, it means that when you are turning right, you push the handlebars as if you were trying to go to the left, and vice-versa. Sounds odd, but it is very important to do. As you go through the corner, accelerate out of it.

Sliding the tires is something to learn from an expert…but don't worry if the back tire slides a little, just apply constant acceleration out of the corner and look to where you want to go, remembering to counter-steer.

6. Braking

There are some fundamental rules to braking. The first, as described above, is to brake mainly with the front brake.

The second is to use only the back brake when you are moving and maneuvering slowly, say at walking speed - if you use the front brake, and the front wheel is not straight, you will topple over. A slow speed crash is particularly embarrassing…

Braking in corners can be quite important. Applying the front brake will cause the bike to sit up, and applying the rear brake will bring the bike down into the corner - some riders use the rear brake (gently) through tight, fast, corners religiously.

If either wheel locks up because you have applied rapid, hard pressure to the lever, just release the lever slightly and the wheel will catch again.

Practice stopping quickly, by finding a nice quiet bit of road, placing something by the side of it, ride towards it (not directly at it) and, as you pass it, brake hard. See if you can shorten your braking distance.

7. Avoidance Technique
If you suddenly find something on the road in front of you, you need to be able to avoid it. If you can, countersteer quickly around the object, then back into your original path - it's kind of like a controlled 'wiggle' for want of a better explanation...essentially you push the handlebars one way and let the bike move around it, and then the push the handlebars the other way as if you are making a very fast s-bend turn.

You need to use your whole body for this, your legs, torso and arms.

Of course if you can't avoid the object, but if you can ride over it, do it - maybe even accelerate and try to get the weight off the front wheel and go straight on over... however if it's a wombat - well, just forget about it, you're stuffed mate.

8. Motorcycle Rebel

Motorcycling is a broad culture all it's own, with sub-cultures that range from the stereotypical Hog-riding 's Angels to the corporate BMW riders or café racers.

Get into it. Learn about bikes and engines, watch the world motorcycle grand prix, read 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' and 'Australian Motorcycle News' (particularly for Fred Gassit). Maintain your own bike, or at least make sure the chain is greased and the tires are at the right pressure. Discover your favorite corners, then discover them with a group of fellow riders. Ride between cities, over mountains, and on a racetrack. Wave or nod at other riders as you pass - and keep your shiny side up.

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