Few things motivate humans to learn quickly like the possibility of personal harm. Well, the possibility of looking stupid might be almost as motivating. If you want to be a better motorcycle rider in 2022, maybe it’s because you want to increase your likelihood of being safe and/or looking cool.
Or, maybe you have another, more noble goal. Perhaps you want to tackle roads that are beyond your current skill level. Maybe you want to go on a trip or ride with a group whose expertise makes you feel like a kid who still needs training wheels. The best way to pick things up is through repetition. Practice the following relentlessly and you’ll be in a totally different place by this time next year.
Practice Slow Speed Turns Until You Barf
Okay, not actually barf. You can mix turns with other slow-speed maneuvers. Why? Because almost anyone who can ride a bicycle can sit on a motorcycle going down the road at speed. Being able to maneuver it around a packed parking lot or in tight spaces is a whole different ballgame. These tips will help you get better at slow speed maneuvers:
Practice using the friction zone - The friction zone is the area between when your clutch is engaged and disengaged. It's a little bit different on every motorcycle, and you develop a feel for it through practice. Using it allows the motor to partially engage so you can have better control at low speed. Practice using a combination of the friction zone, throttle and light rear brake pressure while making turns or figure eights that get gradually tighter until you're confident you can maintain control no matter what.
Invest In the Right Gear
If you've been repurposing street clothes for motorcycle riding, change that now. Purchase riding gear and use it every ride.
Remember how when the pandemic started, everyone was working from home in their sweats, swapping out their shirt three minutes before their Zoom meetings started? All these articles and videos came out about the psychology of work, pointing out how performance dropped when people didn't dress for their roles. Your mindset is affected by what you wear.
When you put on abrasion-resistant gear, you're telling yourself you're about to engage in an activity where you could hit the pavement. You're more careful and also more confident because you know you have some protection. When you buy good motorcycle boots, you support your ankles and give yourself oil-resistant and slip-resistant soles that will serve you well at stops. You'll feel more planted and get another confidence boost.
The right gloves make a huge difference in comfort and dexterity. We're entering the coldest months of the year. Numb fingers make it hard to work the controls. Freeze your hands off today and you're not likely to want to take the bike tomorrow.
Gear with reflective patches makes a big difference in visibility. Again, it's mental. When you put on a riding jacket or pants that make you more visible to other drivers, you acknowledge to yourself that they might not see you. You're more vigilant as well.
If you want to be a better rider and you don't have a good helmet, that might be the best investment you can make. Stop by our Dallas Harley® shop, we have a selection of the best at multiple price points.
Take a Class
If you're riding near Allen, TX, sign up for a class with North Texas Motorcycle Safety Course. They go beyond the basic class you need to get your motorcycle license and teach advanced skills. Their Motorcop Rider Skills course takes place 100 percent on range, with no classroom time, and is taught by an instructor who has participated in police motorcycle competitions across the United States. They also offer one-on-one instruction and private scheduling for small groups, so there are opportunities for every schedule.
Surround Yourself With Better Motorcycle Riders
You may have heard it said you're the average of the five people you most frequently surround yourself with. That's as true with motorcycle riding as it is with life. When you ride with experts, you get the chance to observe how they handle their bike, how they position themselves in different circumstances, their habits for starts and stops, their regular maintenance routines and so much more. If you always ride alone, or you ride with other newbies, you don't have that opportunity.
In life, you may not have the opportunity to surround yourself with millionaires or geniuses, but it's not hard to find people who are very, very good at riding. Join the Panther Creek H.O.G. chapter for an instant community that has a calendar packed with rides, events and group activities.
Practice For Emergencies
Some riders don't know what to expect in an emergency until it happens, then they're surprised by their surprise. If you're going to ride at 100 mph, you should know what happens when you have to brake at that speed. Next time it rains, get out and practice braking on wet pavement. Take that gravel road and get used to handling your bike when you're relaxed and in no hurry. On lazy Saturday rides through back roads, drill yourself on what you would do if a deer jumped out in front of you. When you run through scenarios in your mind then practice what you would do as if they actually occur, you train your brain how to react if they ever do.
Get a Better Bike