Motorcycle Riding Tips

Jun 12, 2024


motorcycle rider on a curve Motorcycle Riding Tips

Riding a motorcycle can offer an exhilarating sense of freedom, but it also requires skill, awareness, and a deep understanding of potential risks. This guide is designed to provide motorcyclists of all levels—from beginners to advanced riders—with tips to enhance your riding skills, ensure safety, and enjoy the road to its fullest.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Understanding the causes of motorcycle accidents is crucial for prevention. The most prevalent cause involves other vehicles making left-hand turns, often failing to notice the motorcyclist. Solo crashes are commonly due to rider errors like over-speeding or poor turn-handling. Environmental factors such as slippery roads or sudden obstacles also play a significant role​.

Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Statistics highlight the reality of motorcycle riding risks. For instance, motorcycles are involved in 11% of all road accidents in the United States, with a higher percentage of fatal outcomes than other vehicles.

Looking for new statistics from Riders Share in 2024 and a compiled list of the most important motorcycle accident stats YOU should know? Visit this blog. 

Lane Splitting Laws

Lane splitting, where a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic, is legal in some states but remains controversial. It requires great care and awareness of surrounding traffic to avoid accidents. As a riding tip, make sure to check your state’s local laws on lane splitting. In the United States, lane splitting laws can vary dramatically between state lines, making it important to always review the laws before traveling. View a list of states where Lane Splitting and Lane Filtering are legal (or illegal) here. 

Motorcycle Hand Signals

Hand signals are essential for communication on the road, especially when riding in groups or when motorcycle turn signals are not visible. Basic signals include turning indications, slowing down, or stopping, which help maintain safety and coordination among riders. Here are three of the most commonly used hand signals:

  1. Turning Left: Extend your left arm straight out with your hand open and your palm facing forward. This intuitive signal indicates to others that you plan to move or turn left.
  2. Turning Right: Unlike in a vehicle, the right turn signal isn't as straightforward because using the right arm directly might be less visible or misunderstood. Instead, extend your left arm out and bend your elbow 90 degrees upwards, making an "L" shape. This signals your intent to turn right.
  3. Slowing Down or Stopping: Raise your left arm to a 45-degree angle with your palm facing down and move your hand up and down. This gesture alerts riders behind you that you are slowing down or coming to a stop.

For a larger list of popular motorcycle hand signals, click HERE. 

Road Hazards

Motorcyclists must be vigilant about road hazards such as potholes, uneven road surfaces, and slippery conditions. These can cause severe accidents, particularly for two-wheeled vehicles, which are less stable than cars.

Riding Tips and Techniques

1. Clutch and Throttle Control

Mastery over the clutch and throttle improves ride smoothness and boosts the motorcycle's response in various situations. Learning to operate the clutch within its friction zone, where it is neither fully engaged nor disengaged, allows for finer control during low-speed maneuvers and when starting from a stop.

2. Braking Skills

Proper braking is crucial for safe motorcycle operation. Practicing progressive braking, where pressure is gradually increased on the brake levers, can prevent the wheels from locking and help maintain control during sudden stops. Understanding the balance between front and rear brakes and how to apply them effectively in different scenarios (such as wet roads or during quick stops) is vital.

3. Turning and Cornering

Efficient turn handling requires good body positioning and an understanding of the dynamics of counter-steering—pushing the handlebar away from the direction of the turn to lean the bike and initiate the turn. Practicing slow-speed maneuvers in safe areas like parking lots can build confidence and improve balance.

4. Practice Visual Lead

Keeping your eyes up and looking through the curve to where you want to go helps you avoid obstacles and maintain directional control. This riding tip, known as visual lead, prevents target fixation, a common cause of accidents where riders inadvertently steer toward an obstacle they are trying to avoid.

5. Defensive Riding

Always assume that you are not visible to other drivers. Use lane positioning to your advantage to increase visibility and give yourself more time to react to other road users' actions. Being aware of your surroundings and anticipating the actions of others can significantly reduce the risk of accidents.

6. Gear and Preparation

Wearing the right gear is as important as any riding tip. Helmets, gloves, jackets, pants, and boots designed for motorcycle riding can protect against severe injuries in case of an accident. Additionally, regular maintenance checks such as tire pressure, brake functionality, and engine checks should be part of every rider’s routine to ensure the bike is roadworthy.

motorcycle rider sitting on fast sporty motorcycle with protective gear on Motorcycle Riding Tips

7. Ride on the Balls of Your Feet

Riding on the balls of your feet enhances your control over the motorcycle, especially when maneuvering or leaning into curves. This position allows for more effective use of the foot controls and improves overall stability. By pressing down on either side, you can steer more precisely and maintain balance while the motorcycle is leaned over during turns. Additionally, this posture can help absorb shocks better than flat-foot riding, contributing to a smoother ride and more responsive handling.

8. Ride Close to the Tank

Positioning yourself close to the tank of your motorcycle is a technique used to enhance balance and control. By scooting forward, you centralize and distribute your weight more evenly across the bike. This stance not only improves stability but also ensures smoother handling, particularly during acceleration and braking. It's a position that can help maintain a more stable center of gravity, which is especially important in turns and navigating through traffic.

9. Yes, Relax. 

Maintaining relaxation while riding is crucial for effective motorcycle handling. Tension in the upper body can restrict the movement of the handlebars, leading to discomfort and reduced control. Signs of tension include aching neck or shoulders. To alleviate this, try taking deep breaths to relax your muscles, grip the bike with your knees instead of tensing your hands, and gently waggle your elbows to keep them loose. These techniques can help ensure smoother handling and a more enjoyable ride.

10. Your Bike Should Match Your Experience Level

It’s important not to rush into riding a motorcycle that exceeds your handling capabilities. Opt for a motorcycle that matches your current skill level. Starting with a manageable and comfortable bike ensures you can build confidence and riding skills safely without being overwhelmed by excessive power or size. This approach enhances safety and makes the learning process more enjoyable and effective.

11. Complete a Safety Check Before Every Ride

Before every ride, conducting a thorough safety check of your motorcycle is essential. This routine should include checking the tire pressure and tread, ensuring that all lights and signals are functional, and inspecting the brakes and fluid levels. It’s also important to check the chain or belt for proper tension and overall condition. These precautions can help prevent mechanical failures and ensure a safer riding experience. Regular safety checks not only extend the life of your motorcycle but also enhance your confidence and security on the road. View our motorcycle maintenance and T-CLOCS checklists here

Group Motorcycle Riding Tips:

motorcycle group riding through redwood highway Motorcycle Riding Tips

  1. Plan Ahead: Before setting out, plan the route, rest stops, and final destination. Ensure all riders are aware of the complete itinerary.
  2. Pre-Ride Meeting: Hold a brief meeting before departure to discuss the route, hand signals, formation, and other important information.
  3. Riding Formation: Maintain a staggered formation to maximize space for maneuvering and stopping safely. The leader rides in the left third of the lane, while the next rider stays in the right third, and so on. This formation helps keep the group tight and prevents cars from cutting in.
  4. Keep the Group Manageable: Limit the number of riders in a group to a manageable number—typically between 5 to 7 motorcycles. Larger groups can split into smaller sub-groups, each with a lead and tail rider.
  5. Assign a Lead and Sweep Rider: The lead rider should be experienced and aware of the route, while the sweep (or tail) rider should keep an eye on the group and assist with any issues among the following riders.
  6. Use Hand Signals and Headsets: While riding, use agreed-upon hand signals or communication headsets to relay messages such as turning, stopping, or pointing out hazards.
  7. Avoid Side-by-Side Formation: Riding directly side-by-side can reduce the group’s ability to maneuver around obstacles or adjust to sudden changes in traffic. It also reduces each rider’s space to move within their lane.
  8. Maintain Visual Contact: Always keep the rider behind you in your mirrors. If you lose sight of them, slow down so they can catch up.
  9. Be Predictable: Avoid sudden maneuvers and maintain a consistent speed to help keep the group together and prevent accidents.
  10. Respect Riding Abilities: Tailor the ride to the least experienced rider in the group, and don't push the limits of the less experienced.

Stay Safe with These Riding Tips When You Rent a Motorcycle Through Riders Share

Every journey on a motorcycle offers an exciting new experience and unique challenges. By being well-informed about common accident causes, complying with traffic laws such as those governing lane splitting, and employing sound riding techniques, you can markedly lower your risk on the road. Whether using a motorcycle for your daily commute or planning a long-distance trip, these essential tips provided through Riders Share will enhance your safety and allow you to enjoy every ride confidently.