Better Riding

This section contains information about the world of motorcycling. Whether you want to renew/refresh your skills as a motorcyclist or you are looking to start from the basics, you can find it all here. For more brilliant content visit our Facebook page.


Mechanics of Braking
Mechanics of Braking


4  classic motorcycling books you should read:

A Twist of the Wrist – Keith Code


A Twist of the Wrist II – Keith Code


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig


The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey – Ernesto Che Guevara



Looking for a Motorcycle Mechanics/Repair Guide? Here you go:


How to ride a motorcycle? Read on…
Learning to ride motorcycles is like anything else..little difficult in the beginning..gradually becomes second nature.

Universal Motorcycling Rules
1) Look where you want to go.
2) Look far ahead.
3) Maintain 2 second Buffers from the vehicle in front; also ensure that you are 2 seconds ahead of the vehicle behind you.
4) Plan Escape Routes.
5) Be smooth.
6) Use hand gestures where needed.
7) Focus.

First up, know your motorcycle’s controls (can also be found in the vehicle’s owners manual).

Secondly, one must know a motorcycle’s basic parts.

Thirdly, one must know the correct Body Position while riding… The correct body position is VERY important in motorcycling.

Now, onto the practical riding part…

Riding a motorized two wheeler – be it a motorcycle or scooter, has 2 aspects: vehicle control and situational awareness.The following aims to develop vehicle control in the rider. With a calm and focused mind, follow these instructions :

Getting the motorcycle in motion and Up-shifting

1) Start the bike :
a) Ensure that the bike is in Neutral.
b) If it’s not in Neutral, pull in the clutch lever and then start the bike. (Keep it pulled until the gearbox is put into Neutral or the bike is set in motion. Leaving the clutch lever suddenly will stall the bike)
2) Pull in the clutch lever completely.
3) Select 1st Gear.
4) Now, to get moving:
a) Let out the clutch lever till friction point.
b) Add a little throttle.
c) Now, let out the clutch lever completely to allow for full clutch engagement – full power transfer to the rear wheel, while rolling progressively on the throttle. 5) Get moving and build speed. (roll on the throttle progressively)
6) Now it will be required to shift to 2nd Gear.
7) To up-shift to 2nd Gear: a) Leave the throttle completely (all the way back). b) Almost simultaneously pull in the clutch lever completely. c) Select 2nd Gear. d) Let out the clutch lever gradually (but not as gradually as at the time of 1st Gear)while adding throttle as needed.
8) Repeat the same process for each up-shift.
NOTE: Gear shifting is a quick process. All this happens quickly. This should be practiced till it becomes habitual.


METHOD I: This method makes use of the brakes to first slow down to a speed suited to the lower gear, then downshifting is done.

1) Leave the throttle completely (all the way back).
2) Pull in the clutch lever completely.
3) Slow down suitably (using both the brakes) to a speed which is appropriate for the lower gear. Bikes are precise machines, each engine RPM and gear combination will lead to an exact speed. 
NOTE: 2 (clutch lever pulling) and 3 (slowing down suitably) can be done before/after each other or simultaneously as well.
 If the speed does NOT drop too low for the required gear such that it needs clutch lever pulling to prevent engine stall, slowing down can be done before pulling in the clutch lever. Else, slowing down can be done after the clutch lever has been pulled in.

4) Then, select the lower gear.
5) Gradually let out the clutch lever, completely.
6) Now add throttle as needed and continue riding in the lower gear.

METHOD II: This method makes use of the throttle during the down-shifting interval to rev-match the engine and wheel speed, then downshifting is done. The goal of rev-matching is to get the engine running at a speed which will be suitable for the lower gear – Quicker method but needs more practice

1) Leave the throttle completely (all the way back).
2) Pull in the clutch lever completely.
3) Select the lower gear.
4) Add a quick short blip of the throttle.(Quickly add a little throttle and then leave it completely – all the way back).
5) Soon after, let out the clutch lever quickly. Note that the more there is a delay in letting out the clutch lever, the more the engine RPM/speed will drop during this interval, which is undesirable in this technique.
6) The lower gear has been selected, continue riding in the lower gear by adding throttle as needed.

Braking for Slowing Down

1) Leave the throttle completely (all the way back).
2) Apply both the brakes progressively.
3) Slow down to the needed speed:
a) If the speed after slowing down is too slow for the current gear, then downshift to a lower gear.
b) If the speed after slowing down is okay for the current gear, then continue riding in the same gear by adding throttle as needed.
NOTE: Never skip a gear while up-shifting or down-shifting, it is harmful for the transmission/gearbox. When it is time for slowing down, it should be judged whether the speed is okay for the current gear or not.

Braking for Stopping

1) Leave the throttle completely (all the way back).
2) Pull in the clutch lever completely.
3) Apply both the brakes progressively (with increasing pressure).
4) While slowing down, tap down all the gears and select Neutral.
5) Stop and let out the clutch lever.

– In order to have the best traction in every condition the rider must be in the correct gear for the given speed.
– Using both the brakes together reduces the stopping distance to a great extent. – – For more information about Mechanics of Braking, click here.
– To view more motorcycling infographics, click here.
NOTE: This is only an introduction and does not discuss topics like engine braking, panic braking, cornering, etc.

Counter Steering
It takes very little effort to change the direction of a motorcycle.

Motorcycles steer via counter-steering. Counter steering is used by single-track vehicles (bicycle, scooter, motorcycle) to initiate a turn toward a given direction by momentarily steering opposite to that direction. This is because to initiate a turn, the rider and motorcycle must lean in the direction of the turn. This leaning is caused by steering briefly in the opposite direction. Once the required lean is established to sustain the turn, the rider then steers into same direction as the turn to complete the turn.

Counter steering is best observed while avoiding obstacles. Obstacle avoidance is done via a technique called Swerving. Swerving means a rapid change of direction, typically done to avoid obstacles.

Checkout this short video on Counter steering.


Cornering is a detailed subject and the most fun too. Every corner consists of 3 parts: entry, apex and exit.

How to Corner properly (using Counter Steering of course)

The aim in cornering is to maintain the right speed in the right gear at the most suitable lean angle for that particular corner at the given speed. The rider should always be riding at a speed which allows him/her to brake to a standstill within the distance that he/she can see.
NOTE: All gear changes and braking maneuvers should be done before entering the corner. Braking and accelerating while cornering leads to weight transfer, which demands more grip from the tires. Tires should be free from braking and weight transfer stresses when possible so that grip is available solely for cornering forces.
CAUTION: Do not lean the motorcycle excessively.

1) Scan the horizon to ensure that there are no oncoming vehicles/pedestrians and also look in the Rear View Mirrors to check for vehicles/pedestrians.
2) Reduce the corner Entry Speed to a comfortable one.
3) Turn the head and eyes in the direction you want to go. Look through the turn and use the widest possible arc to gain the best and earliest view out of the corner.
4) Counter steer gently to initiate the lean into the direction of the turn. Remember to keep the elbows slightly bent to allow for natural settlement of the steering into the turn.
5) Gently roll on the throttle to allow the bike to settle into the turn and follow a smooth line.
6) Counter steer gently in the opposite direction to get the bike to straighten up at the corner Exit.

To increase lean angle – Counter steer in the direction of the turn.
To decrease lean angle – Counter steer in the opposite direction.

What determines lean angle?
– Radius of the turn
– Speed of the motorcycle

U turn from a complete stop (For a right side U turn)

1) Once stopped, first ensure that there is enough space for the U turn to be completed.

2) Plant your foot as far towards the right as possible, with your foot pointed outwards in the direction you wish to go (right, in this case).

3) Turn the handlebars to full lock (here, right side).

4) Look where you want to go rule: turn your head and eyes until you are looking at the end of the U turn.

5) Lean slightly towards the right side (both the rider as well as the motorcycle).

6) Let out the clutch lever till the friction point and release it fully gradually, adding throttle as needed.

7) Complete the U turn while looking at the end of the turn.

Practice this until you can complete the U turn with both the feet up on the pegs.

– Keep the elbows flexible and loose for better turning and maneuverability.

This video explains and demonstrates this very well – U turn on a Harley Davidson Road King.

Rolling U turn

1) Slow down to a suitable speed for the turn.
2) Ensure there is enough space to complete the turn.
3) Look where you want to go rule: turn your head and eyes until you are looking at the end of the U turn.
4) Initiate the turn by turning the handlebar as much as needed to complete the turn in the given area.

– Rear brake usage is more suited for a U turn as compared to the Front Brake because it doesn’t upset the balance, instead helps to stabilize the motorcycle.
Application of Front Brake may lead to Suspension Dive, which directly affects steering/handlebar and thus affects balance.

Staged Braking

  1. STAGE I The rider applies the brakes where they are just on (friction point) and the bike slows down very gently, rolling to a stop.
  2. STAGE II The rider applies the brakes firmly to bring the bike to a normal/firm, smooth stop. So, Stage II is where the rider applies the brakes to Stage I (friction point) before applying a steady force at Stage II.
  3. STAGE III The rider applies the brakes with a strong pull to stop in time. So, Stage III is where the rider applies the brakes till Stage I, then onto a firm pull of Stage II before applying pressure with a strong pull at Stage III.
  4. STAGE IV This is the final stage of braking – the rider needs all the braking he/she has got. The rider has to use the maximum brake-force to stop safely. So, in Stage IV, the rider applies the brakes till Friction Point (Stage I), moves onto the firm pull of Stage II, then a strong pull at Stage III before giving it all he/she has got at Stage IV.
    NOTE: Never grab the brake levers, squeeze them progressively, modulating pressure as needed. Grabbing a handful of the brakes is a major reason for unintended skidding.

Mechanics of Braking
Mechanics of Braking is all about managing traction as a result of weight transfer. The below Infographic is self explanatory:

While doing hard braking, if the rear tire starts skidding (easy because of decreasing weight at the rear), let it skid. Instead, concentrate on the front portion (increasing weight because of weight transfer towards the front.) and stop safely.

Slow Riding

Slow riding has a lower limit: your motorcycle won’t go any slower than the engine’s idle RPM (Google it).
To make your motorcycle go slower than that, one needs use the clutch friction point technique. That is – let out the clutch lever only partially so as to send partial engine power to the rear wheel, and maintain it at that position. (Recall that the same thing is briefly done while initial pick-up from a standstill, before letting the clutch out fully.)

Slow Riding takes a whole new meaning when combined with turning and heavy motorcycles.
For handling a heavy motorcycle successfully, you need to use all the 3 controls in a coordinated fashion: Clutch lever, rear brake pedal, accelerator (as needed). The below infographic explains this:

Lastly, but most importantly, one should know why your motorcycle handles the way it does.

Motorcycle Geometry

All queries/doubts/suggestions may be mailed to:

Checkout “Road Sense for Motorcyclists” on Amazon !


Why motorcycle?motorcycle-1320837_960_720

Motorcycles are an extension of the rider…
To be free and still be involved at the same time is a different feeling…
To be on the ground and still be flying is so liberating…

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