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Hi! So, if you are thinking about riding a bike – as a way of commute, as a leisure vehicle, as a lifestyle or purely because your friends are doing it, let us tell you that it is best learnt with an open mind. You must cast aside your fears and preconceived notions about bikes and biking. What follows is a series of motorcycling info graphics and their explanations. Let’s get going!
Universal Motorcycling Rules
1) Look where you want to go
A motorcycle/scooter is very sensitive to handlebar inputs and will go where the rider’s arms turn. The action of looking invariably causes the arms to align in that direction. So, the bike follows. Therefore, you must look accurately in the direction you wish to go.
2) Look far ahead
You must scan the road ahead for any obstacles.
3) Maintain buffers
A buffer is the safety distance/safety cushion which a rider must maintain to safeguard him/herself from any sudden braking or emergency maneuvers from the vehicle in front. You must also ensure to maintain a buffer from the vehicle at the back and from the sides.
4) Plan Escape Routes
Escape route is simply an alternative pre-planned route/path to be taken in case of emergency maneuvers by the vehicle in front.
5) Be smooth
Smooth riding is the hallmark of a proficient rider. The smoother you can ride, the better a rider you can be.
6) Use hand gestures where needed
Motorcyclists have a distinct advantage when it comes to using visible hand gestures: they can express their intent in a more pronounced manner, while turning, stopping and the like.
The best riders are the most focused ones. You don’t have to sit still for meditation.
Before you start riding, you must buy a helmet which fits snugly on your head. Accurate helmet size is of the utmost importance. (Learn more about how a helmet protects your head). As a general rule, there should be no loose or untied objects on a motorcycle – this applies to helmets too.
Refer the below infographic to get an idea of how to measure the correct helmet size for yourself:
You may also want to checkout our eBook – Road Sense for Motorcyclists on Amazon.
Questions about getting started
Q.) Which is the right bike for me?
A.) This depends on the purpose, usage and the performance you are looking at. Each bike is designed with a specific purpose and for a certain type of rider. You can choose from a cruiser, sport or standard motorcycle (more on types of motorcycles can be found here).
Q.) How to build my riding skills, step-by-step?
A.) Riding has 2 parts – motorcycle control and situational awareness. Once you learn how to ride without consciously thinking about the various steps involved in riding, then you can focus on the surroundings. After getting your first bike, there are a couple of things you can do to build your riding confidence:
- Start in a location with light traffic, ideally in the early morning hours. Get to know your bike and its various controls.
- Explore the dynamics of the bike and understand how it handles – at slow, walking speeds and at normal riding speeds (~50-60 km/h). Light zig-zag maneuvers on empty roads and mild turns (using proper turning technique) will help. Your bike will handle differently in different gears (1st gear at 4000 R.P.M. v/s 2nd gear at 4000 R.P.M. is very different, take notice).
- Practice stopping in Neutral every time, from every gear.
- Explore the braking capabilities of the bike. Find an empty road, choose a point where you would like to stop and brake to a halt from different speeds in different gears (30 km/h is a good enough speed to experience all kinds of braking exercises discussed here). Once you are confident with normal braking, try panic braking (make sure the surface is smooth). Knowing how to brake on time and within a given distance increases riding confidence.
- Find a big space and start practicing U turns. Once you are comfortable with this, try making them progressively shorter.
- Once you are comfortable with riding in light traffic, then proceed with heavy traffic, and so on.