Ever since Marlon Brando wowed us with his rebellious ways in The Wild One, we have been fascinated with motorcycles. Few machines generate such coolness-factor or an image of freedom. From serious bikers to weekend riders, the motorcycle is all about breaking boundaries and being your own person. Even if you have never ridden one, you can still have an appreciation for them. But what if you want to ride them? At some point the appreciation may actually lead to an urge to get on one of those road travelers. If that happens, how do you ride a motorcycle?
Some people say that learning to ride a motorcycle is just like riding a bicycle (except you don’t have to peddle). If you ever want to feel the wind in your face as you cruise down the road on your chopper, here a tutorial on how to do it.
Pick the Right Bike For You
The most important decision that you can make before you learn to ride a motorcycle is choosing the right bike for you. More so than a car, a motorcycle is a personal statement and symbol. You won’t see a biker in leather chaps and a bandana scooting along on a street bike. You also won’t see a grandmother in a pink jumpsuit riding a custom chopper with ape-hanger handle bars. Well…maybe. The point is there is a right bike for you.
Before you get a motorcycle, shop around at some different dealerships and sit on the bikes to know how they feel. You don’t want to ride down the road on a bike that is uncomfortable for you. Try out a Harley or two, a street bike, a touring bike, cruisers, sport bikes, and just every different style to find what kind you like the best. Remember, it need sot be comfortable and it need to represent you.
Steps To Learning How To Ride a Bike
To ride a bike, you start out by throwing a leg over the seat. This can be tricky depending on the difference between the height of the bike and you. By holding onto the handle bars, balance on your left leg and swing your right leg over the seat and straddle it.
Next step is to turn on the key and start the motorcycle. Older motorcycles and dirt bikes will have a kick start on the right side. Newer bikes such as cruisers will have an electric button to push. Flip the kill switch to the ‘on’ position. If it is in the ‘off’ position, the bike won’t start no matter what you do to it. Make sure the bike is in neutral and start the engine by pressing the start button. If it has a kick start, you may have to jump on it a few times before the engine cranks.
On a motorcycle, the right handlebar is responsible for two things: acceleration and the front brakes. The right foot is responsible for the rear brakes. Front brakes are more useful for stopping a motorcycle as rear brakes are usefully for low speed maneuvers. The left handlebar is responsible for the clutch to change gears while you use your left foot to do the actual gear changing.
Once the bike is started and you are familiar with where everything is, it is time to move out. Flip up the kick stand with your foot, otherwise you are going to be scraping metal as you go down the road. Hold down the clutch with your left hand and put the bike in first gear using your left foot. When in gear, ease up off the clutch and give the bike a little gas with the right hand. You should start rolling forward. Use the accelerator on the right to move faster.
As the bike builds up speed, engage the clutch with your left hand and change gears. Otherwise, you risk burning up your bike by running it too fast in a low gear. You should release the throttle slightly when you change gears. After you change gears, release the clutch.
As you ride the bike, you want to lean in the direction that you want to turn. Leaning helps stabilize the bike and keeps you from having to turn the handlebars so far. When it comes time to stop the bike, engage the clutch with your left hand and apply the brakes using both your right hand and right foot. You will need to switch back to first gear before starting again or you can kick it into neutral. Once you are done riding, drop the kick stand down and kill the engine.
You should contact your state DMV to get your motorcycle license. All states require you to take a driving test through a course. You can pick up some information on the test along with safety guidelines. You will need to do some studying before you get your license.
How Do You Get Started Motorcycle Riding
There are motorcycle clubs in practically every corner of every state. A good place to start motorcycle riding is joining up with one of the clubs and learning from the people already riding. They can tell you about the best motorcycles for different types of riding and give you tips and pointers.
Most motorcycle riders are self-trained. A lot of them grew up riding bikes so it is second nature to them. However, if you have never been on a bike before, it is necessary to take a course sponsored by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation or a school that uses their criteria. These courses usually last a few days and cover everything from field instruction to classroom work. You don’t need a motorcycle as they are provided.