The most important (and often underrated) skills that can transform the way you ride your motorcycle forever.
If you have been tooling around on your motorcycle a while now and want to take things to the next level – pushing your bike a little faster and a little harder than most beginners feel comfortable with – you’re going to need to master a couple of underrated skills.
Below we highlight five of the most important skills that will change the way you ride your motorcycles forever (especially you’re a big café racer fan).
These are the kinds of skills that will take you from a novice just comfortable zipping around town to someone that feels totally at ease pushing your bike into corners, weaving around winding roads, and really feeling your bike open up when you pull back on that throttle.
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Let’s get to it!
Skill #1 Steering with Your Eyes
One of the most important things you need to master when riding your motorcycle is developing the skill of “steering with your eyes”.
A lot of newbies out there sort of steer themselves around on their bike without thinking about things like there right line, how to go into and out of corners, how to safely navigate traffic and obstacles – things like that.
Steering with your eyes is a game changing skill that really encourages you to read your surroundings, analyze the road and fellow motorists at the same time, and find a way to get from Point A to Point B quickly and safely.
Focus on looking where you want to go rather than just focusing on the immediate elements in front of you at any one particular point in time and you’ll be a better rider – and a safer one, too – almost instantly.
Skill #2 How to "Walk" Your Motorcycle
A lot of brand-new motorcycle owners are surprised to discover just how much more challenging it is to ride their bike at slower speeds compared to humming along the highway, for example.
This is why learning how to “walk” your bike is such a big piece of the puzzle and such and underrated skill.
Being able to open her up on a highway and scream pass traffic in the left lane is something anyone can do with just a little bit of experience under their belt.
Being able to comfortably (and quickly) move around the city at slow speeds, moving off from a complete stop, turning around in crowded parking lots, and changing direction quickly in bumper-to-bumper highway traffic are skills that take a little bit longer to develop.
Really focus on learning how to “walk” your bike that city speeds and you’ll be a much more intuitive and instinctual rider in no time at all.
Skill #3 Tight Turns From a Standstill
No skill on a bike is harder for newbies to develop them tight right hand turns from a complete and total stop.
For starters, this skill is super challenging because it forces you to turn very sharply from a total standstill in a congested and tightly packed space most of the time.
Secondly, you have to avoid letting the power of your bike as it accelerates force you to the outside of your turn (and almost immediately into oncoming traffic) – and you have to know how to feather your throttle so that you’re not herking and jerking through the turn, either.
This is one of the underrated skills that you’re probably going to want to try and master in a parking lot before you take it to the road, but it’s something that you’ll want to take a couple of weekends to really perfect as soon as humanly possible.
Start yourself at a total stop and begin to move off through that friction zone, yanking your handlebars in a 90° angle while looking up at where you want to go. Give her a little juice, feel how your bike is responding, and use your body (and your elbow) to move things along smoothly.
Push steering is another skilled you’re going to master when you start to practice this technique, and both of these are going to dramatically improve the way you ride from here on out.
Skill #4 High Speed Stops
High-speed stops are no joke and will save your bacon more than maybe any other kind of stop there is.
Everyone that’s ever jumped on top of a motorcycle knows that the most dangerous people on the road are everyone else around you, and you may find yourself having to do high-speed stops more often than you like.
Again this is something that you’ll want to practice in an open parking lot more than on an open road, but you’re going to need plenty of room to get up to a decent speed before you can really practice these kinds of stops.
Juice your bike to at least high gear and then pick a stopping point somewhere out in front of you.
As soon as you approach that spot give your brakes a quick squeeze as opposed to a tight grab, bringing everything back to you under control while slowing your bike down without jerking you over the handlebars.
Slow yourself down and then really give your brakes a pinch, stopping yourself while tapping down on the gearshifter so that you can be in first gear when you stop on your target spot. That gives you the ability to power out of a quick stop in a hurry if you have to, keeping you in total control of the situation at all times.
Skill #5 Buttery Downshifts
The last skill that you’ll want to develop to perfection (and one that is criminally underrated) has to do with buttery smooth downshifting.
Downshifts for new riders are almost always really rough and really choppy, and you’re going to mess with the flow and efficiency of your ride if this isn’t remedied ASAP.
Like everything else, start to think more about when you need to start your downshift and how you need to play with your clutch and your throttle to make it as smooth as possible. It’s a little bit like playing the piano but you’ll be able to turn it into second nature as long as you practice every time you have to go down a gear.