The Rider's Handbook
Basic riding techniques
The key to good riding technique is smoothness, and the key to smoothness is good preparation and practice.
When you first get a motorcycle take the time to adjust the controls to suit your height and build. Correct riding posture reduces fatigue and improves control.
Five key points of posture
To control a motorcycle well, your body must be in the correct position:
- Sit well forward.
- Keep your head up and point your chin in your direction of travel.
- Relax your arms and place minimal weight on your wrists.
- Keep your back relaxed and support your weight with your stomach muscles.
- Grip the motorcycle firmly with your legs and knees.
In curves, point your chin through the turn and scan the road with your eyes.
Correct braking is done in two stages, first put light pressure on the brake levers and pause (set up the brakes), then progressively apply the necessary braking pressure (squeeze).
Two-stage braking (set up and squeeze) improves braking effectiveness, reduces the likelihood of skidding and provides better control. When releasing the brakes ease them off gently to maintain the stability of the motorcycle. Easing off the brakes gently is particularly important when entering curves.
Harsh or excessive braking pressure may cause skidding and a loss of control, particularly on wet or gravel roads. If the front wheel begins to skid due to incorrect braking, quickly release the front brake and reapply gently. If the rear wheel skids release the rear brake gently and reapply gently.
Applying the front brake in a curve can make the motorcycle run wide.
The five key points of riding posture apply to all types of motorcycles
A motorcycle can be steered using a number of different inputs. Handle bar pressure, body weight and changes in speed all have an effect on a motorcycle's direction of travel. Good riders use a combination of these inputs to achieve smooth and precise turns.
Handle bar pressure
A motorcycle can be steered by direct steering or counter steering. With direct steering the motorcycle goes in the direction to which the handle bars are turned. With counter steering the motorcycle goes in the opposite direction to which the handle bars are turned, for example a slight forward pressure on the left handle bar will make the motorcycle turn left. Direct steering is only used for very low speed turns, U-turns, turns at intersections, etc. Counter steering has more effect as speed increases.
How the rider uses their body weight will have a significant effect on a turning motorcycle. Leaning with the motorcycle in a curve allows the motorcycle to be more upright thereby giving the tyres better grip and the motorcycle greater ground clearance. With low speed turns leaning out from the turn can help balance the motorcycle.
Effect of speed
The faster a motorcycle is travelling the harder it is to turn. Reducing speed before turning is essential. Wait until the motorcycle begins to straighten before accelerating. Accelerating will stand a motorcycle up and too much will make the motorcycle run wide.
During very low speed turns, for example U-turns, a gentle use of the throttle, clutch and rear brake can be used to control speed.