Everybody makes mistakes. The trick is to come away from them better than you were. The same certainly applies to motorcycle riding, especially if you are a new rider. Motorcycles can take some time to get used to, and things can definitely happen within that adjustment period. There’s no need to fear rookie mistakes. We’re going to take a look at some common mistakes new motorcycle riders make, that way, you’ll hopefully get a handle on them.
Common Mistakes Newbies Make on Their Motorcycle
Stalling may be easy to do, but on the bright side, it is also easy to grow out of. In fact, this is something that you can iron out in the confines of a safety course. It’s all about mastering your clutch lever. As long as you have the lever pulled all the way in, you can be at full throttle and your bike will go nowhere. In that hypothetical scenario, though, you’ll now need to let out the clutch very slowly. In general, work on getting a feel for your friction zone, and then become comfortable with applying enough throttle as you let your clutch out the rest of the way.
2. Not Downshifting at a Stop
This is something that contributes directly to stalling. It’s more difficult to launch your bike in a gear other than first, so if you forget to downshift to first and are expecting to have a smooth launch, then you’ll be in for a bit of a surprise. Ideally, you’ll have your clutch lever pulled in all the way as you brake to a complete stop, which will allow you to downshift seamlessly. At worst, you’ll have to pull your clutch in and hastily get yourself into first gear if you forget to downshift as you roll to a stop. Again, this is simply a matter of attaining more comfort through practice and is something you can lick in your earliest days on a motorcycle.
READ MORE: Motorcycle Downshifting Techniques
3. The Kickstand Jive
It has one purpose, and one purpose alone. Because that purpose does not pertain to actually riding a motorcycle, the kickstand can appear to be somewhat vestigial. It can be easy to forget, even for seasoned motorcyclists. Motorcycles are designed to suddenly shut down if you try to shift into gear with your kickstand down. This can be alarming and can result in an embarrassing tip over. Simply remember to kick that stand up right after you mount the bike and all will be well. Plus, resist the temptation to unplug the wiring that causes the shut down if you get into gear with the kickstand down.
4. Not Covering Your Clutch/Brake Lever
The twist grip may dictate your forward motion, but your motorcycle’s clutch is a direct line to the power you want your engine to transmit. Being able to take that power away at will is very handy. That moment you spend taking your fingers off the grip and onto the lever itself might be the difference between avoiding a collision and the exact opposite. Covering your clutch lever gives you what might seem like a minute amount of reaction time, but the advantage may be useful. The same is true for your brake lever. How you cover your brake lever is up to you. You may use all four fingers, or you may use three, two, or even one.
5. Forgetting About Counter-steering
When you study what happens when you counter-steer, it seems a little odd at first. In practice, however, it’s simple and straightforward. You may use your body to provide steering input, but the effects will be extremely minimal. Thus, if you want to get the most out of your motorcycle’s turning ability, then you need to become comfortable with counter-steering. It’s simple: press right on your handlebars to go right; press left on your handlebars to go left. The degree to which you must do so depends on the situation and, again, the comfort to apply just enough counter-steering for the myriad of situations in which you’ll find yourself. Get out there and practice!
6. Not Knowing Your Fuel Range
Most motorcycles don’t have fuel gauges, so running out of fuel early on in your riding life can be pretty easy to do. Your range also depends on what sort of riding you do and how you ride. Fortunately, you can work out something of an average and then stop for fuel when you approach said average. First, set your trip meter to zero after a fill up. If you have an older bike with a petcock, then you can switch to reserve, take note of your trip meter reading when you’ve done so, and then immediately stop to fill up. Whether or not your bike is equipped with a petcock, periodically take a quick peek in your fuel tank so that you know when you’re getting close to empty. Then you’ll be able to plan to ride close to fuel stations when needed.
7. Forgetting to Cancel Your Turn Signals
Some motorcycles have self-cancelling turn signals, but most do not. If you already drive a car, then this is something you might occasionally forget when you transition to a motorcycle. This isn’t overtly a safety issue, but it can create some confusion to those who may be in a position where knowing what you might be about to do is helpful…and that confusion could lead to a safety issue. The only way around this is to simply get used to the fact that you’ll have to cancel the signals yourself.
8. Not Leaving Yourself Enough Room
In your early motorcycling days, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It takes time to get a handle on what needs your attention, and how much of it is needed. Certain operations may suffer a bit, and not leaving yourself enough room is an example. Remembering to keep a safe distance is extremely helpful, but you must also remember to leave yourself an escape route if and when possible. If the space you currently occupy is about to be compromised, having a safe space to move into could save your life.
Identifying and understanding mistakes will set you on your way to conquering them. Take it all in stride, and you will be on your way to enriching your motorcycling experience.
Know some other common mistakes newbie riders are always making? Share them with us below!