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What bike should I get when starting to ride?
I would reccomend from a safety aspect you start on something small – a 125cc or 250cc it’s not as cool as a 600cc+ but it’s not as uncool as smashing up your new bike after 2 hours of ownership.

Look at it like this: when you first drove a car (if ever) would it have been a good idea for you to do so in a Formula 1/Indy Car? We’re talking 0-60 in around or under 3 seconds here, that’s longer than it takes most people to breath in and out once.

My personal reccomendation is the Kawasaki Ninja 250cc if you’re in the US, or a 125CC to your own style liking in the UK – i have ridden the Honda CBR125 and can reccomend it as a decent bike.

Should I wear motorbike gear when riding?
For me, this is a definitive answer.
You should always wear gear. Even if you are only travelling a few metres.
Your gear should consist of specialist motorcycle gloves, boots, helmet, jacket AND trousers/pants.
DO NOT use normal day jackets or fake leather – these will disintegrate and melt upon contact with the road at even modest speeds.
The same goes for boots/gloves and trousers.
One of the most common losses in a motorcycle accident is toes and or fingers, gloves and the correct boots are important if you want to remain in 1 piece.
I had an accident, can I still use my helmet?
Generally? No.
The padding/foam/shell may not show any damage to your eyes, but it’s what the layers inside are like that matters.
You can pay for your manufacturer to look over it and check it fully after an accident to check for damage however it does cost with 99% of manufacturers.

That was my last helmet, and that was caused by a crash at 20mph – i would not want my skull to have born the brunt of that impact.
Damaged helmets should have chin straps cut and be disposed of to avoid anyone using it that finds it in the trash.
I also strip the helmets down for spares. The bits come in handy believe me!
What are the controls on a motorbike?
On a geared bike, the controls are as follows:
Left hand – clutch lever.
Right hand (lever)- front brake.
Right handle (handle)- throttle.
Left foot – Gear shifter – usally 1 down 5 up. (see below)
Right foot – rear brake.
Various other switches but these change placement from bike to bike.
What does 1 down 5 up mean?
This is how the gearbox works.
This means you kick down once to get first gear, then up for 2nd, up for 3rd, up for 4th and so on. To go back down from 4th you kick the shifter down to 3rd, down to 2nd and so on.
Neutral is between gears 1 and 2 – and takes a “half kick” or a “love tap” to get into, rather than a full kick as in normal switching you simply tap the shifter and it should fall into neutral.

A common new rider mistake is accidentally shifting into neutral by being too light footed.
What’s the deal with the brakes?
Most newer bikes come with disc brakes. These offer superior stopping power when compared to their older relatives – drum brakes.
Essentially the same applies: NEVER stamp on or grab either brake. This will cause a wheel lock and will end your movement forward quickly. And not in the good way. In the ouch my face is now my only brake way.
Either front or rear brake should be applied gradually, in the event of a wheel lock release the brake and reapply.
Fundamentals: Don’t use the front brake during cornering. You will fall.
Try not to use your rear brake during cornering either, it can be troublesome but less so than the front.
In wet/icy weather when stopping use 50/50 (ie both at the same time with same pressure) on front and rear brakes.
In dry, you should mainly use your front brake and if you really have to, rear.
Never, unless absoloutly required brake during cornering. This can lead to a highside or a lowside accident. Both of which painful and or deadly.
***See below!
High Side / Low Side? (Tank Slappers and Floor sliders)
Thanks to Socks86 for mentioning – my notes replaced by Jacomus’ as his are better!

Highside – Brakes

Cause: Locking the rear wheel by using too much rear brake in a corner.
Consequence: The rear tyre steps out to the outside of your turn direction.
Result: The rear of the bike will continue to turn until the rear wheel stops skidding i.e. you release the brake. At this point it will suddenly grip and fire the rider into the air.
Prevention: Don’t brake in corners! If you are running the rear brake, and the wheel slides, KEEP BRAKING and leaning! The rear wheel will continue its slide and you will slither to the tarmac fairly painlessly.

Highside – Throttle

Cause: Spinning the rear wheel by using too much throttle in a corner.
Consequence: The rear tyre steps out to the outside of your turn direction.
Result: The rear of the bike will continue to turn until the rear wheel stops spinning i.e. you release the throttle. At this point it will suddenly grip and fire the rider into the air.
Prevention: Don’t accelerate hard in corners! If you are gunning it, and the wheel slides, KEEP ACCELERATING and leaning! The rear wheel will continue its slide and you will slither to the tarmac fairly painlessly.


Cause: Locking the front wheel by using too much front brake in a corner.
Consequence: The front tyre slides out to the outside of your turn direction.
Result: The bike will “fold” underneath you, dropping you on the ground.
Prevention: Don’t brake in corners! If you are running the front brake, and the wheel slides, you won’t be able to save it unless you are Colin Edwards! But at least you don’t fall very far.

Throttle induced highsides – pretty damn violent!

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On this one you can hear the engine rev as the rear wheel slides, and then as he snaps the throttle shut it fires him into the air.

Throttle induced lowside – keeping the power on to avoid a highside
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Front brake induced lowside

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What should i check and when?
Personally, i check basic running order things before every ride.
And i ride  *EVERY* single day.
Lights – brakes – tyres – brake fluid – indicators – fuel – gauges – chain – throttle.
And every 2 or 3 weeks i check oil & coolant.
Oil and coolant won’t result in damage to you – only your engine. The others are mostly quite important to your being alive.
What/how/why – Countersteering.
Topic suggested by Wraith

Believe me, i know your worries and mind boggles on this – i was the same before i sat on a motorbike and heard this.
Counter-steering – is simply turning the handle bars right (so the wheel is at / angle) to initiate a left turn.
This happens due to a motorcycle being 2 wheeled and single tracked. ALL 2 wheeled single track (single track means in 1 line) vehicles counter steer.
Or in a scientific way, it is an inverted pendulum meaning is swings left and right from the bottom.

Counter steering ONLY happens at speeds of above around 5MPH. Otherwise “normal” handling is used.
Counter steering is NOT a whole steering maneuver and is simply used to unbalance a bike momentarily – as you turn the handlebars left (wheel pointing ) the bike will lean to the right, if you continued to steer this way, the bike would simply fall over.
What you actually perform is a slight turn making the bike lean – and then you turn the handlebars normally steering into the turn.


Approaching a RIGHT turn: move front wheel into position
Correct lean angle achieved (within fractions of a second depending on depth of turn etc.) turn into corner with tyre in / position.
Follow corner accelerating out of corner counter steer once more to raise the bike back upright.

This steering method is counter-inuitive i.e it is not what you would normally do, or think to do. However you do it due to your own sense of balance and is completely natural.
It is not an item to fear or worry over, it’s simply physics at work.
There are more complex details regarding this item, but i think that should put most people at ease.

A note on car drivers.
Topic suggested by Tucker

Most motorcyclists will tell you “all car drivers are out to kill you” – whilst this isn’t actually the case – it’s good to bare it in mind.
Most car drivers are not looking for motorcycles when and if they check their mirrors, they are looking for 4 wheels, 2 spread apart headlights – other cars basically.
A motorcycle is small in comparison and can easily be obscured by the blindspot inside a car (these are the bars that run down either side of the windscreen).

The next thing to note is, motorcyclists and drivers have bad habits. These can lead to death and or injury.
Not indicating and then turning is common.
As is pulling out from side roads into oncomming traffic.
Be prepared for the most unexpected things someone could do and never ever assume a car driver is performing a certain maneuver. They may just change their mind and head a different direction and you’ll be on the deck.

It helps to make yourself as visible as possible, light jackets, reflective pads/stickers, white helmet etc.

How the hell do I stop my neck/fingers/feet freezing?
Written by Jacomus

Neck – buy a Buff and your’re good to go

Fingers – winter gloves is a rather obvious one, but for days when it is just chilly, try a pair of silk glove liners inside your regular glowes. They up the warmth factor and don’t restrict movement.

Feet – Aside from getting waterproof boots, which tend to be warmer, try a pair of overboots – google “motorcycle overboots”. They are dead cheap and whilst they look like crap, they make a big difference to comfort on very cold days.

An even more budget method is a cyclists trick – put a pair of very thin cotton socks under your regular socks, then slip a plastic sandwich bag over your toes and put your boots on. If you don’t believe it works, try it on one foot only and feel the difference.

Micellaneous Road Hazards
Suggested by DarkNinja75

There are more hazards on the average road than car drivers – whilst looking ahead and keeping an eye on everything all around you need to also be aware of what you are riding on – for example;

Loose gravel
This can in certain circumstances be very dangerous, notably when cornering. It provides an ample surface for straight line riding, but when turning it becomes slippy and very treacherous, beware of it when entering a corner and try not to speed up if cornering on it too much.

Oil/Spilt Fuel
Will usually show up as a shiney or rainbow coloured patch on the road, this stuff is like ice, you lose all kind of traction and grip and can easily spill the bike – even veteran riders can fall victim to this.
It’s usally at roundabouts/islands or sharp corners where cars/larger vehicles have overfilled their tanks and the excess spills out, be warey of it, especially at roundabouts/islands!!

This isn’t a major issue for most riders, it is pretty much the same as gravel, but it has the bonus of being highly corrosive to most surfaces, including your beautifully maintained chrome and metal work. Avoid if possible, if not, do try and wash it off when you have finished your ride.

I always reccomend people learn to ride in really shitty weather, the winter can teach you so much about how your bike handles in these conditions as opposed to learning in good summer weather where you will try and ride the same way in the winter, in the wet you should figure that your stopping distance will be doubled, in icey conditions it can be over 5 times your normal stopping distance.

Road Markings / Painted Road Signs / Drain Covers / Manholes
Veyr slippy when wet, pretty much like ice, if you happen to be cornering on them when wet, expect to lose your rear end for at the very least a moment, at worst, expect a high side/tank slapper.
Most common one in the UK is the Bus Stop markings in paint on the road surface, they can be deadly but don’t look it!

Please, feel free to add your own questions/answers.

Most of these seem common sense to most of us, but to new folk and inexperienced (or experienced idiots for that matter) they’re not.

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