Top 10 Tips For New Motorcycle Riders


It seems that with every dime that the cost of a gallon of gasoline goes up, another few thousand people decide to ditch their fuel hogging four wheelers in exchange for the economy and freedom of motorcycling. Motorcycle sales are booming, and the industry looks to have its best year in almost two decades.

With all the new motorcycles flying off the dealer lots and the older models being rolled out of the corner garages around the country and dusted off, there are various points that all neophyte riders should understand about their shiny new modes of transportation:

1) You don't drive a motorcycle, you ride it. Although it seems obvious to anyone who has watched a rider on their iron steed, most motonoobs are not aware that in order to turn left you not only lean into the turn but very gently turn the handlebars to the right, and vice versa! This action is extremely light and almost imperceptible, but is a technique which should be mastered by anyone wishing to safely operate their motorcycle. Learn to ride from an expert and ride defensively! The alternative is three months in traction or worse.

With many new motorcyclists hitting the road, it's best to learn first rather then when it's too late!
With many new motorcyclists hitting the road, it's best to learn first rather then when it's too late!

2) Keep your bike in just one part of the lane. The center of most lanes is slick with oil and grease that has deposited over the years. The part of the lane where the most traction is usually available is on the sides where the car tires go.

3) You won't necessarily get better mileage. If you're parking your Chevy Aveo and jumping on a Suzuki Hayabusa, you'll likely be losing MPG, not gaining them. The truly economical motorcycles are usually the 125 to 250 cc models which not only make superlative commuters and around-town bikes, but can return up to 90 MPG. If you have a lot of highway cruising that you want to do, then a 500 cc class motorcycle will take two adults anywhere they want to go and still return 50 MPG or more.

4) Don't blip the throttle at stops. It doesn't impress anyone, doesn't keep your bike from stalling out, and just makes a lot of useless noise and uses up fuel.

5) Maintain your ride. Motorcycles are far more finicky about being kept in good mechanical condition than cars. You can likely drive a car for 20,000 miles and do nothing but change the oil on it, while a chain driven motorcycle may need tensioning every 500 miles. Make sure that you are aware of the mechanical requirements of your motorcycles and that either you or your mechanic are equipped to perform that regular maintenance.

6) Look like a Xmas tree. Plunk on extra lights front and back, wear fluorescent clothing and do everything possible to make sure that the drowsy driver behind the wheel of that 1974 Coupe De Ville can see you.

7) Watch out for the sudden left turners. It's the leading cause of death for motorcycle riders.

8) Where should your bike be during heavy rain, wind, hail or snow? In the garage.

9) Where should you be after a couple of drinks? In a taxi.

10) Do you have a head? Put the best helmet you can buy on it and leave it there. 'Nuf said.

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Comments 16 comments

New Riders! 7 years ago

Do not listen to this man! Get professional advice instead, please! Telling you to only ride in one spot in the lane is dangerous (it's the easiest way to make yourself invisible to car drivers). And there's nothing wrong with rain, heavy or not. You just have to learn how to properly deal with it.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

No, don't listen to me. Just listen to the advice of all 50 states (and most nations') Department of Transportation! DUH!

New Riders! 7 years ago

"6) Look like an Xmas tree. Plunk on extra lights front and back, wear fluorescent clothing AND 10) Do you have a head? Put the best helmet you can buy on it and leave it there. 'Nuf said."

I guess the expert in your photo doesn't need to listen to his own rules. An open face helmet with a black leather jacket and jeans. And as for lane safety, you clearly didn't understand the point I was making, and that should be very disturbing for anyone who thinks they'll find good advice here.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

First time I've ever heard anyone criticizing the riding apparel of a CAT! Geez! :)

Slush 7 years ago

I agree that cat riding the Bike is in for some trouble.

However, the Motorcycle safety class that I took did mention staying away from road oil was a good idea and suggested that the tire tracks of cars might be a good place to avoid it.

Hal is clearly not always right, but usually very funny.

Hacksaw 7 years ago

There are two kinds of riders: those that have laid it down and those that are gonna

Mark Patton 6 years ago

Great tips for new riders. This will come in handy for those people who aren't so confident in their riding ability.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Slush, thanks... I think! :)

Hacksaw, well, there are very few that have ALWAYS kept the shiny side up!

redb1ker, you're welcome.

Mark, Thanks!

tysonwelch4673 6 years ago

Thanks for the great info!

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

You're very welcome!

James 6 years ago

I think the important thing to remember with lane position is that your decision should be based on what position makes you most visible and what provides you with the most cushioning.

In Portland, Oregon, we get so much rain that the center of the lanes are typically pretty free of oil and slick material, except maybe at stoplights where cars usually stand longer than on the open road.

On two-way roads, I typically stay in the left tracks of cars so oncoming traffic can see me, but on highways, if I'm in the middle lane, I tend to stay in the middle of the lane so that I have room to maneuver should some idiot decide to come into my lane.

In the rain, I typically stay in the zones between the front of one group of cars and the back of another, as traffic tends to bunch up in groups. I also stay in the right lane on highways. No idiot in a hurry is going to quickly pull into the right lane behind an 18 wheeler because they're too busy trying to get ahead. The left lane is the exact opposite. One tends to see cars quickly dart from the right lane into the left to try to pull ahead, and one of those cars could very easily slam into a bike. No one quickly pulls behind an 18 wheeler at the back of all of the traffic.

Motorcycle safety is all about statistics and doing the things that will help you avoid becoming one, and a lot of the planning involved is based on knowledge of the road conditions, traffic patterns, as well as riding defensively and having the right gear.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi. Thanks for your comment. It is very true that heavy continued rain can scrub away some of the oil deposits in the center lane (and yes I've spent time in Oregon so I know that you get lots of that liquid sunshine) but if it's been dry for a while and it starts to rain, that center section turns into soap very quickly.

RegLindz 6 years ago

Just read your tips Hal. Thanks for the info

kennynext profile image

kennynext 6 years ago from Everywhere

Another thing that should be avoided on the road is antifreeze. I came to a stop light where some car had just blew a radiator hose. Needless to say I went down and after I got the bike up, I had to push it out of the puddle. It was too slick to go.

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smmotorb 4 years ago from New Zealand

Where you ride in the lane is always going to depend on a number of factors, road surface, visibility ( can you see and can you be seen ), traffic conditions. You have made some valid points with regards to visibility being safe and bike maintenance.

hogeater 4 years ago

I rode two wheels for many, MANY years. I do agree with most of your statements. However, the one about the lanes has me a bit concerned. The optimal place to ride would be the left wheel track. There is going to be far less debris there and it is also going to have a lesser amount of grease and oil on it.

I no longer ride two wheels and have had to go to three due to medical issues so my riding habits have had to evolve as well. Riding on three is phenomenally different than two.

Here's a link to a photo of me with my trike......

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