Basic Motorcycle Riding – Starting Out

Basic Motorcycle Riding – Starting Out

Learning new rider skills make riding more enjoyable and can potentially save your life. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediary or an expert rider, it simply takes one riding tip at a time to increase your knowledge base. But before it becomes part of your skill set, you have to put to practice what you’ve learnt, repeatedly.

1. Choose your trainer carefully

If you are an eager road rider who wants to learn better cornering techniques, lessons from a motocross racer – who may have never ridden a lap on a road race track – won’t benefit you. Firstly, these are two opposing riding styles. When approaching corners, the speed difference between superbikes and motocross bikes is vast. Because of the faster entry speed on track, taking the correct line is much more important than on a dirt track where the throttle helps with changing direction.

It’s important to learn from someone who is actually more skilled than you: A more experienced rider with a good track record. He or she also has to be a safe rider. You have to feel safe when following your instructor on track or on the road. Does his guidance improve your riding or does your heart jump out of its cage every time you realise “how close it was” that you did not crash?  Choose a reputable academy and trainer who will add tangible value to your level of riding.

2. Dress the part

Invest in a good quality helmet. Your head is worth a lot, so don’t skimp on the price. Use the website as a guide. Wear riding boots that protect your ankles, full-finger gloves that fit your hands properly and a well-fitted and armoured jacket that will also protect you from objects flung up from the road. Don’t be the type who spends his last cent on the motorcycle and buys the cheapest riding gear. Do some background reading to understand the difference between the materials helmets are made from. The same goes for the different textiles used in clothing and how it protect against rain, impact or friction.

Some say dress for the fall. I don’t really agree with that because for me 99{02c0c177ee4fd9beaa1f7860c90a8df2b6c3227773fff8a5ad31f40277892f83} of the time there is a way out of a situation.  If you end up using your 1 {02c0c177ee4fd9beaa1f7860c90a8df2b6c3227773fff8a5ad31f40277892f83} instead, then I’m going to ask you to refer back to my first tip again and ask yourself what you’ve learnt and if it’s improved your riding

3. Never try to impress

There’s nothing like a motorcycle to bring you back down to earth, whether riding casually or racing professionally. And I speak from experience! Respect for your bike and the laws of physics and a sense of responsibility (especially towards your nearest and dearest) will give you many happy miles.  There are riders who feel it’s important to impress the group or person they’re riding with. This is a more common error than people would like to admit. It can get you into trouble before you even realise it. What is the solution? Know your limit, never exceed it, especially when under pressure and take your time to improve your skill level. There is a time and place for everything else in life, the rule to safe and enjoyable motorcycling is no different. Ride with a group that suits your riding or find out what the day’s route is, so you can ride at your own pace, rather than speeding to keep up. Better yet, ride with a group who you would recommend to a friend

4. Know what you want to ride and why

Many people make the mistake of buying a motorcycle they think they want. Once they own it, they realise it’s not suitable for their skill level, physical size or the type of riding environment they enjoy.  Even experienced riders make this mistake. Expectations are different for all of us. As a new rider it’s important to get training where there is a variety of motorcycles available to help you understand the different riding positions and what is more suitable for where you are. It’s important to test ride a motorcycle before you decide to buy it, unless you have done your homework on every aspect of it and you’re still convinced you want to buy it.

If you’re a casual rider who only goes out on your motorcycle for social riding or an outride, it’s easier to live with your choices based on an impulse or just the wow factor. But if you’re a commuter, who relies mostly on your motorcycle for comfort and cost-effective transport, it’s important to look at what will suit your needs, rather than wants.

The most amazing part of motorcycle riding is that we can never know too much and that motorcycling has a way of keeping us on our toes. It’s exciting, challenging and without a doubt life changing!


Wilmarie Janse van Rensburg a.k.a. SASpeedQueen is an expert in rider skills development and risk assessment training for beginner to advance riders. 1st Professional Lady SA Superbike racer.

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