So You Want to Ride.. Part 2 Basic Motion

in advice, howto

Ok.. motorcycling is dangerous.. You learn to ride at your own peril.  If you read this, do what I say, and get hurt.. that's your fault.  I'm only imparting what works for me.

So you still want to learn to ride. You've accepted the danger involved and want to give it a shot. You'll need some basic skills. The most important skill is stopping. But, you obviously can't stop till you get moving. So the first order of business is to get you moving. Things like this are best taught by a tutor on the spot, however, reading it here first will let you get the process in your mind and give you something to think about till you actually get in the saddle.

The first thing to do is master the clutch. It's one of the hardest things to use correctly on a bike. Some people just "get it" right away. To everybody else it's the most frustrating thing to learn... ever. Here's what I recommend. Get on your bike and start it up. Hold the back brake on. Pull in the clutch and start your bike. Make sure it gets warmed up and can run off choke. With the bike idling and the clutch lever pulled in put the bike in gear.  Now, let the clutch out very slowly.  You'll reach a point where you hear the idle dropping and the bike will strain to move forward ever so slightly. When you reach that point, stop letting the clutch out and hold it there for a moment.  If you stall it, then you've let it out too far.  Pull the clutch in and restart the bike.  Let the clutch out, but don't go as far as you did last time.  Once you get to the point where the idle just starts to drop.. pull the clutch back in, but only just far enough so the idle picks up again.  This is called the engagement point.  Play around with the engagement point some more.  Get a feel for where it is.  Do this for only about 10 or 15 minutes at a time and then let the bike cool down.  Don't worry about the clutch, a motorcycle clutch is much more durable than an automotive clutch and can take a good deal of slipping.  Once you can use the clutch to adjust the idle speed with the drag from the clutch without stalling, then you can move on to the next step.  The ability to manipulate the clutch in this fashion is a great skill and once mastered will place you amont the few riders who have truly mastered the skill.

The next thing you should do is basically the same thing, only don't hold the back brake on.  Make sure you are on level ground.  Make sure it's truly level and you have lots of room to work.  Make sure the bike is in first gear.  Hold the brakes on, pull in the clutch and start the bike.  Let the brakes off. Now, do not give the bike any throttle at this point. Simply let the bike idle, and slowly let the clutch out until the bike starts to pull a little.  At this point, stop letting the clutch and hold the clutch lever where it is.  If you still feel the bike tugging, but it isn't moving forward, then let the clutch out just the slightest bit more.  Most people feel the bike start to pull and instinctively let the clutch the rest of the way out like you do in a car.  That is not what you want to do at this time.  You want the clutch to continue slipping.  as the bike begins to move.. hold the clutch lever still.  As the bike ceases to accelerate, then let the clutch out just a little bit more.  At some point, the bike will be moving as fast as it will go at idle in first gear.  At that point you may let the clutch out completely.  But, keep your fingers on the lever and be prepared to pull it in.   At some point, before you run out of room.  Pull in the clutch and pull on the front brake lever and slow yourself to a stop.  Move the bike to a location where you can get another run and do it over again. If at any point, you become scared, please pull in the clutch and take a break until you calm yourself down.  If you find yourself constantly stalling the bike, then you are letting the clutch out too rapidly. Patience is the key.  Slow and steady is the key at this point.  You're learning a new skill, it will take hours, maybe days.  Remember to only do this for around 10 or 15 minutes at a time.  Some bikes will be fine with the heat, but other's may overheat and you don't want to cook your new ride before you really get to enjoy it.

After you get the hang of the clutch and getting the bike moving, you may work on getting a little speed and work on your braking.  Work the throttle slightly after the clutch is fully realeased.  You'll feel yourself accelerate.  Let off the throttle completely and you'll feel yourself slow down.  Pull in the clutch when you want to stop and pull on the brake lever and lightly push the brake pedal at the same time.  This is pretty complex move.  Feel free to practice with just the front brake, and just the rear brake.  Remember, the front brake can provide 100% of your stopping power.  It is your friend contrary to what many will tell you.  Many times when travelling rapidly I will brake so hard coming a turn the rear tire is just hanging in the air by about a half an inch or so.  Trust me, the front brake will do all of your braking if you want it to.  Balance is the key.  We'll save that topic for the advanced braking section later on.   

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