How to Ride a Motorcycle Properly

Motorcycling is a great deal of fun. But it’s very important to learn how to ride defensively and respect the motorcycle and it’s power. If you start out with this attitude at the outset, you will ensure that you’re entering this high risk activity with thoughtfulness and self-preservation, and it will make the riding experience so much more enjoyable.

Perhaps you know what type of motorcycle you want, or you already own a bike, or maybe you just want some refresher information — no matter who you are or where you are in the process of riding, you can use this online guide and information as a source of information on anything from how to start riding to wearing the proper gear or to whatever.

And please know that the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offers rider safety and education courses. The courses are covered in more depth further in this article and found as its own section on our site (you can go to our website for more info on the MSF rider courses.

Proper Riding Gear

Whether you are just learning to ride or you’re already an experienced biker, remember to always wear your safety gear. Going down on a motorcycle hurts, there’s no denying it. Have you ever fallen off a bicycle? Remember how badly your skin and hands hurt because they were scraped along the street or sidewalk? Remember how easily your knees and elbows bruised? Now magnify that based on the speed your traveling on the motorcycle. Even if you’re driving around the block in your development or driving in a parking lot, you will easily scrape yourself up worse than any bicycle fall. I’m not stating this to scare you away from riding a motorcycle, I just want to make sure you protect yourself by wearing as much safety gear as possible, including gloves, leather jacket or armored clothing, boots, goggles or sunglasses, and a helmet (which is required by law in most states) . Go to my website to view the proper gear and shopping pages. Once you have your proper riding gear, you’re ready to get on the bike.

Getting On

Before you just jump in the saddle, you should do a T-CLOCS check of the bike. Let me explain —- EVERY TIME before you ride, you should make sure it’s fit to be on the road. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has a checklist they call T-CLOCS:

T — Tires, wheels (air pressure)

C — Controls (clutch lever, throttle, brakes/pedals, cables, hoses)

L — Light (battery, headlights, turn signals, mirrors)

O — Oil (and other fluid levels)

C — Chassis (the frame, suspension, chain/belt, etc.)

S — Stands (kickstand and/or the center stand )

If the motorcycle checks out just fine, you’re ready to get in the saddle. Always mount the motorcycle by throwing your right leg over the seat. When getting off, always bring your right leg back over the seat. This is done for two very important reasons: 1) The kickstand is on the left side of the bike and that’s where the motorcycle weight is hanging. 2) When getting off, it is very easy to burn your leg on the exhaust pipes on the right side of the bike, and you don’t want to get your leg caught on the seat and pull the bike down on you.

So, starting at the left of the motorcycle, grab a hold of the handlebars, put the weight of your body on your left leg, and lift and throw your right leg over the seat and onto the other side of the bike. Take a seat on the motorcycle. Take your time and get accustomed to the bike. Make sure your mirrors are adjusted properly to where you’re sitting, get used to where the controls are (horn, turn signals, lights, etc.). While the kickstand is still down and holding the bike upright, put your feet on the pegs and get a feel for your leg positioning.

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