Learning to Ride: The sarcastic guide to starting your #bikelife - Lesson 1
Every rider was a Learner at some point.
Having just finished a lap of Australia, I find myself reflecting back on a few situations that in retrospect, should have caused me to crash and become one with the outback soil. I'm thankful I put in some good kilometres leading up to the trip, but I am very aware of where I started too.
Everyone starts out new at something. This guide is basically how I would have explained motorcycle riding to my own young self.
This guide is handy for:
- People who are interested in riding but have no clue where to start
- People not interested in riding but accidentally clicked on this link
- Riders who want to hear the actual technical terms bastardized beyond belief
- People with an equally sarcastic sense of humour
Approx read time: 8 minutes
Let's get started!
This is your probable view of your dashboard, a Ninja 300. This guide has sportbikes in mind, but some things can be transferred to other types of bikes.
On a motorbike you use your brain, four limbs, and your heart and soul.
- Left hand is used for signalling (if you ride a BMW, this switch may not exist), high beaming right-lane campers, and using the clutch. On a small bike the horn sounds like someone blowing their nose, so keep this to a minimum.
- Right hand is used to hit the killswitch (the tiny red switch that looks like our logo), the ignition (the red thing that breathes life into your bike), the front brake (squeeze this too hard and you will get rewarded with a "lockup" aka sore balls for weeks.) and of course the throttle (pull toward you to accelerate, that's all you need to know)
- Left foot is for changing gears. Drop it to disappear.
- Right foot is for rear brake, which stops your rear tyre. Good for some fishtail action if you're feeling spontaneous
- Put your left toe on the left peg. Do a seated calf raise and click the peg all the way until it can't click anymore. Congrats, you're at 1st gear.
- Click up slightly. A green light appears on your dash that says N. Congrats, you're in Neutral, chillin' like a villain.
- Click up harder. Yay you are in 2nd gear.
- Click up again. You're now in 5th gear... just seeing if you were paying attention.
**Pro Tip**: if your bike sounds like it's wanting to go back to bed, you're in too high of a gear. If it sounds like a high pitched middle aged smoker, take her to the track or go up a gear.
Starting your bike.
- Sit on your bike with both hands on the handlebars. Make a deep and meaningful connection.
- Make sure your kickstand is up so you don't look like a wanker
- Get to 1st gear or Neutral.
- Models may vary but you might need to pull your left-hand-lever in. This is the clutch. Give it a squeeze.
- Click the killswitch to "on". It's the one that looks like our logo.
- Use your right thumb and hold the ignition for a few seconds. The bike should come alive and you may shit yourself a bit the first time this happens. It's all natural. Just kidding, that's gross and I thought you were an adult.
- With the clutch still in, pull the throttle and rev for funsies! Don't fully release the clutch when you're pulling throttle or you will die.
- You just started your bike!
Making the bike move.
- If any part of your skin is showing, I suggest going back inside and getting proper gear on now.
- Okay, you're back on the bike. Pull the throttle and release the clutch ever so gently.
- Seriously go gently like you are touching a woman for the first time.
- If you let the clutch out too fast, the bike will try to buck you off and it will shut itself down. This is called "stalling" and it's embarrassing. Begin again and make another deep and meaningful connection.
- If you didn't move at all and your bike just moaned, you're still in Neutral and you probably looked hilarious
- Whoo! Now you're going in circles around the carpark. Use the front and rear brakes to slow yourself down. Mission accomplished.
Lesson One complete!
- Start with a 125-300cc bike and learn on it until you can rip around on the corners confidently
- Left hand = clutch.
- Right hand = throttle/brake.
- Left foot = gears.
- Right foot = epic lane splitting between semi trucks. Also, rear brake.
- Starting: Clutch in, killswitch on, ignition on, feel the thunder
- Moving: Pull throttle, release clutch slowly. Stay calm, you will move.
- Stopping: Right limbs, unite!
Any tips we missed? Comment below or share with your n00b mates.