Motorcycle Training: 53 Tips for New Riders

New Rider Advice – From Those Who Have Been There!

Wednesday Wisdom posts are selected from a variety of sources which I think you’ll enjoy. This post contains many voices of wisdom, taken from a recent FaceBook chat I facilitated, hosted by Motorcycle Mojo Magazine.  Motorcycle training like this can only come from those who have experienced it themselves!

A wide range of riders with diverse experience, locations and perspectives participated. Although there is some duplication, each one carries its own wisdom, along with some humor!

Do you have any additions?  Post them in the comments below.  The next chat will be on July 31st @ 7:00 p.m. EST. Just go to Mojo’s FB page and join in!

Here are the responses to: “If you could offer a new rider advice (other than take a course), what would that be?”

  1. Colin S.: “Beware of intersections.  Especially cars turning left in front of you.”
  2. Daryl M.: “Wear your gear and be an ATGATT (All The Gear; All The Time) rider from the start.”
  3. Rolling Thunder Riders: “Don’t go big or go home. Buy the bike you are ready for and able to handle and take our time picking it out. Always buy it second had for your first one cause you might drop it and you’re not gonna keep it for long anyway.”
  4. JCB: “It’s not about the bike.”
  5. Jeff V.: “Start with an older, used bike to reduce the loss if you don’t like it.”
  6. Jenn M.: “Do not ride to keep up…ride your own ride. Always at your skill level….always want to build confidence. And take a safety course!”
  7. Tom M.: “Join a club. You’ll get a whole lot of good tips there.”
  8. Denise D.: “Enjoy every moment.”
  9. Scott L.: “Look to where you’re going – not at the ground or at the bike.”
  10. Tom P.: “Full face helmets are a good idea.”
  11. Sean K.: “All the gear, all the time, because road rash is a bitch. Oh, and never say “hey guys watch this!!!”..obvious reasons.”
  12. Ron G.: “Wear a helmet.”
  13. Jeff L.: “Never assume the other vehicle is going to do what they are supposed to. Be aware at all times of what is going on around you. Ride smart and have fun.”
  14. Tom M.: “Buyer Beware. Best to solicit advice from many club members and then take the most conservative path.”
  15. Teresa H.: “Full gear always, no matter how hot it gets out there.
  16. Tom P.: “Maintaining your own bike adds another dimension to the sport of motorcycling. You could choose to take it in and have a mechanic take care of it, but then you miss knowing what is going on and won’t be able to handle a roadside repair job.”
  17. Derek B.: “Eye lead. Your bike will you where your eyes lead it.”
  18. Brenda S.: “Learn the proper way to ride in a group. Don’t assume you know, ask. There are many signals from the leader that can be misconstrued.”
  19. Karen G.: “Practice, practice, practice until all the mechanics of riding come naturally. Only then will you be able to respond properly in emergency situations that call for quick action.”
  20. Derek P.: “Dress for the slide, not the ride. And have fun!”
  21. Shawn O.: “Sit on as many bikes as possible while shopping. Many dealers or private sales won’t allow a test ride but I won’t buy a bike I haven’t ridden.”
  22. Darlene W.: “I cannot stress wearing proper gear enough. Pot on head is not enough. If hot, wear mesh with armor and get correct helmet with wind flow.”
  23. Daniel C.: “Never try and keep up. You can always Catch Up.”
  24. Don M.: “Riding a bike is no different than driving a car. Always, always look ahead, look THROUGH the windows of the car ahead of you, watch the behavior of the drivers and always assume the other drivers are idiots. SEE their moves before they make them and plan for them. Ride to be seen, NOT in their blind spots, NOT in the right portion of the lane. Be aware of everything going on around you and NEVER lose sight of how vulnerable you are.”
  25. Alison G.: “Take your time. Learn at your own pace. Don’t feel pressured into doing things you don’t feel you are ready to do. Also, always wear your safety gear!!!”
  26. Brian L.: “Ride the above bike (see #2 and #4) for the first two years.”
  27. Renee G.: “Wear gear! Don’t show off or you’ll wish you had been wearing gear.”
  28. Tammy KP.: “Always remember that the 4-wheeled vehicle is bigger and always wins.”
  29. Carolyn F.: “Ride like you’re invisible – like no one sees you so watch out for everything.”
  30. Richard T.: “Get a dirt bike and ride on gravel roads for a summer first before you drive the street. You’ll learn how to handle slippery conditions so when it happens on the pavement, it doesn’t become a life-altering experience.”
  31. Bob E.: “Don’t ever assume you have nothing more to learn about motorcycling. Challenge yourself and those you ride with to get better with each ride and every year.”
  32. Don S.: “Never assume that the other driver sees you. Always drive defensively.
  33. Tim S.: “The best advice I every got was from the instructor who taught me 29 years ago: “Pretend you are invisible.”
  34. Mike R.: “Keep your head and eyes up.”
  35. Kevin G.: “Don’t let extreme emotions dictate how you ride. Too carefree, sometimes = lack of focus and careless or dangerous riding. Too angry sometimes causes one to ride like they’re ten feet tall and bullet –proof=careless and dangerous (and also may result in running out of gas in the most inconvenient places…trust me.)”
  36. Wayne N.: “Remember, this is your first bike, not your only bike. Buy one to learn on and be safe, the fun/showy bike can come later once you are sure that is really the bike you want.”
  37. Angela S.: “Take the bike course.”
  38. Fab S.: “Drive like you are invisible.”
  39. Heber G.: “Lots of great advice. Gear important, situational awareness good, and size does matter. Choose the size that matches the skill level. Above that I always recommend practice slow maneuvering skills. I practice in vacant parking lots early in the morning on weekends. Especially early in the season.”
  40. Marc O.: “Learn how your bike handles and take your time. The ride is more importation than the destination.”
  41. Adrian B.: “Ride like you’re invisible…and read Mojo Mag!”
  42. Chris B.: “All the gear, all the time. Alcohol and motorcycles do NOT play well together!”
  43. Terry S.: “Look where you want to go and never bash anybody for what they ride. It’s about being in the wind.”
  44. Chris T.: “Remember how much it hurt to trip and fall on pavement. Now think about how fast you’re going to be traveling. Respect the ride for what it’s capable of, and NEVER underestimate the stupidity of other drivers. Ride as if you were invisible and always have a route out of trouble.”
  45. Claudia L.: “Check your bike over every time you ride: Tire pressure, chain condition, you name it. Cause that bolt bouncing down the highway could be the one that’s supposed to hold your swing arm on (go ahead, ask me how I know!).”
  46. Don. P.: “Eye Lead. One of the most important tools I learned and use constantly.”
  47. Scott S.: “Don’t just look at the car. Look at the person driving the car…and move away from people who aren’t focused on driving their car.”
  48. Glenn R.: “Ride 2 years in the dirt before you ride on the street, Then start with a dual purpose. Nice, light and forgiving.”
  49. Jake R.: “If you can’t ride a dirt bike you should not be on a street bike.”
  50. Ron S.: “Start off on something you can handle. Don’t buy the biggest badass machine going, or chances are it’ll collect dust or you’ll loose a ton when you sell it.”
  51. Tracy B.: “Having gotten my bike license last summer I ride a Honda rebel 250. I also wear steel toe boots, denim jeans, and an armored jacket and gloves. I also wear a reflective vest and full face helmet. I thankfully haven’t had the misfortune of laying my bike down, however safety first before being cool. Keep your eyes on the road and make visual contact with other drivers. See and be seen. Enjoy and ride often.”
  52. Richard B.: “Beware of the vehicle turning left as you approach the intersection!”
  53. Debra R.: “ATGATT – all the gear all the time – right from the start and it becomes part of riding no matter what.”

 

Posted in Motorcycle Tips Tagged with: ,
28 comments on “Motorcycle Training: 53 Tips for New Riders
  1. Ray F Walton says:

    Create a “Safety Bubble” around you! Visualise that bubble & do NOT, I repeat NOT, let anyone burst it. Keep your distance front, back & sides at all times remembering it is Your “Safety Bubble”! It works trust me, with over 100,000 safe miles in 4 years under my belt I swear by it.

  2. Ray F Walton says:

    The list of tips is “Spot On!” Well done Liz for presenting your Blog in such a professional way. Put’s my ramblings to shame! Well done. Ray F Walton.

    • lizjansen says:

      Thanks Ray. The more of us there are trying to make things safer and better, the better we all are.

      Liz

  3. Bengal88 says:

    Check your oil level and tire pressure regularly. Make sure your tires are good. You can’t afford to lose one while heading down the freeway.

    • lizjansen says:

      Good one! The contact patch of our tires is so small – and our life depends on that contact. Thanks.

      Liz

  4. Sky says:

    when riding on a two lane highway, beware of approaching vehicles towing trailers – on curves, trailers can swerve across the center line

  5. Sky says:

    when riding on a two lane highway, beware of vehicles on the other side of the road who want to pass and don’t see a motorcycle approaching – watch for packs of traffic – chances are, someone is itching to pass – move to the right tire track

    • lizjansen says:

      You’re absolutely right about the potential for impatient drivers wanting to pass and risk a head-on collision. One reason for riding in the left tire track is to be more visible to oncoming traffic. Other than riding with high beam on (which is illegal in Ontario), I wear high viz gear to make myself as conspicuous as possible.

  6. Sky says:

    don’t follow large trucks on a highway – when an opportunity arises, pass with intent – never sit in a trucker’s blind spot – always be aware that truck tires can blow

    • lizjansen says:

      Sky – you’ve identified 3 excellent hazards. How we react can mean the difference between life and death. Thank you.

  7. Sky says:

    carry a first aid kit, a map, a phone, a flashlight and water – be prepared for weather changes and light changes – carry eye protection (for daylight, cloud and night) and an extra layer of clothing

    • lizjansen says:

      More wisdom. I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t read a map in the dark. There’s no dome light on a bike! : )

  8. Sky says:

    don’t procrastinate when it comes to filling your tank

    • lizjansen says:

      It’s a good idea to know approximately how far your bike can go on reserve/after the warning light comes on. Don’t try this when you’re alone.

  9. Sky says:

    don’t assume that because there’s a double solid line on a highway, that someone won’t try to pass – and when you want to pass, always check that a driver isn’t trying to pass you too – don’t pull out unless you check both directions – many drivers don’t regard bikes as “real” vehicles

    • lizjansen says:

      You’re right. They just don’t see us. I remember a cop once saying that people don’t notice a cruiser pulling up beside them. They’re sure not going to notice a motorcycle!

  10. Sky says:

    protect your hearing! loud custom exhaust on a cruiser is cool but it will slowly deteriorate your hearing – the rushing wind along with traffic noise will also degrade your hearing … and when you notice you can’t hear conversations clearly in restaurants, it’s too late – wear ear plugs (you can get custom plugs) and/or a helmet that covers your ears

    • lizjansen says:

      Although noise can cause a temporary short term shift, as you point out – over prolonged periods that damage is permanent and irreversible.

      Liz

  11. Sky says:

    when merging on the the highway, know your place (as long as you share the road, you have a right to ride there) – signal your intentions early and use hand signals with intent (not some lame motion that nobody understands or sees) – do a shoulder check, get up to speed and assertively take your place in traffic when it is safe (not a fast motion but a decisive and smooth motion) – if your appear unsure, motorists lose patience and tend to speed past you or worse, block you in – it’s all about communication

    • lizjansen says:

      Communication and confidence as you describe. I’ve often heard you should ride as if you’re invisible. This does NOT mean timidly. It’s just as you described. If you don’t have the skills, you shouldn’t be out there.

  12. Sky says:

    when learning to ride on a freeway for the first time – you’ll know when you are ready to try it – it”s exhilarating – choose a place on the highway where you can get on and get off without merging into highway traffic – do one exit – rate of speed is a lot faster – get your speed up – feel the bike – don’t ride faster that you can handle – get off at the next exit – check how you feel – this is a milestone in your rider training – gradually add more distance – try riding the highway early on a Sunday morning when there’s little traffic – when you gain more experience, ensure eyes are 360 degrees – check your mirrors constantly, scan and be aware – if you noticed a red car behind you 30 seconds ago, where is it now? remember that things happen quickly at 60 – 70 mph – don’t hesitate to use dramatic hand signals when you spot a problem ahead – better to get daydreaming drivers’ attention than not

  13. Sky says:

    when stopped at a red light at an intersection to turn left where there is no concrete island, position yourself in the right tire track for your turn and maintain some distance from the white line – hang back 10 – 12 feet – remember that traffic turning left into the lane beside you may cut dangerously close to you because there is no island or dotted lines to guide their turn around the island – if you pull your bike up to, or beyond the white line, you may be directly in the path of their turn

    • lizjansen says:

      Hi Sky – good point. The only caution I’d add is that you need to be up there enough for other drivers to know and anticipate what you’re doing. Offensively defensive. 🙂

      Thanks.

      Liz

  14. Sky says:

    always read the road surface – keep scanning for debris, roadkill, potholes, pavement heaves in hot weather – always read corners and slow down before you make the turn – look for gravel and sand and steer clear – signal drivers following you that you are really slowing down – if you encounter sand and your speed is down, your bike will be upright and easier to control than banked at a higher speed

    • lizjansen says:

      Two small patches of rubber are our only contact with the ground. The regular scan helps us prepare for it – whatever the road gives us.

      Thanks Sky.

      Liz

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