I am a bike enthusiast and love sharing my tips and tricks to help people like you.
This article is for those of you who don't know how to ride a bicycle, or those who know how to ride a bike and are now ready to learn to ride a motorcycle. If you don't know how to ride either, it is suggested you start by learning how to ride the bike before you progress to the motorcycle.
Below, you'll find step-by-step instructions for both.
- While following this guide, make sure that you are with someone that can actually ride a bike or motorcycle.
- Also, make sure that you are with someone that can carry you in case an accident happens.
- Read instructions carefully and wear complete protective gear.
- Always make sure that you are riding a perfectly working machine at all times.
Get a Bike or a Motorcycle
If you don't own one, you can borrow one from anybody willing to get a scratch or two.
If You're Learning to Ride a Bike: If you don't have one, it is highly probable that you can rent a bicycle near you. You can also find practice bikes for beginners that are really cheap. I suggest getting a beginner-friendly mountain bike: It is easier to learn, control, and relatively safer than other bikes.
If You're Learning to Ride a Motorcycle: Before you start, you should get a student drivers license (this depends on the country). For starters I recommend semi-automatic scooters because they're simple but you'll still learn a lot of useful things such as shifting gears. (It's only a recommendation: if you want to start on a motorcycle with a clutch, then feel free to do so.)
Know the Parts
Aside from the fact that you won't understand anything I am about to say if you have not learned at least the most important parts of bikes, it is very hard to learn to ride without initial knowledge of the machine. Besides, ignorance may lead to fatal accidents. Here are some parts you ought to know before starting the practical training:
Brakes - For motorcycles, there is the pedal usually on your right feet and the lever at your right hand. For bikes, this is usually the hand levers on both your right and left. As you most likely know, stepping or pulling on it decelerates and/or stops your machine.
Pedal - For bikes, this can be used to initiate and maintain acceleration, while for motorcycles this can be used to decelerate and change gears.
Steering Handle- Steering handle is where rest and grip your hands while riding. This can steer you from left to right to change your direction.
Gears - These are the round things attached to the chains of your machine. These parts are responsible for making your wheels turn every time you pedal your bicycle, or rev up your engine. Most bikes can change the size of the gear being used. Each gear relates to a different speed and pull.
Stand - As the name suggests, this helps the machine to stand alone. Most bikes have two types of stands: the side stand and the center stand. Make sure to kick up the stand every time before starting the machine since it can hinder your riding experience and may also cause balance-related accidents or damage.
Day 1: Feel the Machine
After you have learned and reviewed the parts of the machine, you should now get accustomed to the way the machine feels. The first two steps are the same, whether you're riding a bicycle or a motorcycle. Here are the steps:
*Always practice with someone who knows how to ride and strong enough to hold you in case you get off balance.
- Get On: While the cycle is stationary (on the stand), sit on it to feel how heavy it is, then review the parts by touching them, or stepping on them.
- Practice Balancing: Balance your motorcycle/bicycle with your feet on the ground and the kickstand still down (make sure that you are wearing sturdy, close-toed shoes) so that you become accustomed to the weight of the machine. Try to move it forward and backward with your feet, and repeat until you are used to the weight of the machine.
Day 1: Riding a Bicycle
- Pedal: While the bicycle's center stand is on the ground, it will lift the back wheels of the bike. Try to pedal it until you feel that you have familiarized yourself with it.
- Accelerate: Now, kick up the stands and balance the bike with one foot on the ground and the other in the pedal. Then start pedaling with a great initial step (it's easier to balance when the bike is accelerating). Try your best to balance it while putting your other foot (the one previously on the ground ) on the other pedal. If you feel you are getting out of control, hit the brakes then put a foot on the ground and regain balance before you try again. Practice taking that initial step and balancing while putting your other foot on the pedal, repeating the cycle for an hour or so.
If you have successfully put two feet on the pedals and have them pedaling the bike while maintaining balance and acceleration, then congratulations, you may continue to Day 2!
Day 1: Riding a Motorcycle
Follow these next two steps if it's a motorcycle you're learning to ride. As I said earlier, it's best to learn how to ride a bicycle before you attempt a motorcycle.
- Start It: I am assuming that you are using a semi-automatic motorcycle: Kick up the stand and balance the machine with your feet. Put the key in and light up the motorcycle's display panel. Confirm that it's in neutral (usually a green light of the letter N) before you start the machine. DO NOT START THE MACHINE IF IT'S NOT IN NEUTRAL. As soon as you start the machine you will hear it rum. You should then quickly rev up the machine by rolling down the throttle. Now, your machine will keep on rumming even when you let go of the throttle, this means you have started your machine successfully.
- Accelerate: Now that your machine is active, kick the forward gear shift pedal to put it in first gear (the green N will dim out and the number 1 will lit up in your display panel). You can accelerate now, but for safety reasons, we will kick the gear pedal again to get your machine in to second gear (since the higher the gear the less initial pull you will experience). Now roll down the throttle very slowly (see video). NEVER ROLL THE THROTTLE QUICKLY. You will feel the machine pulling you forward. Try your best to balance it, and as soon as you think you are getting out of control, roll the throttle up and hit the brakes. Then steady the motorcycle with your feet to regain balance and try accelerating it again, balance it, hit the brakes when it goes out of control and accelerate it again. Repeat the cycle for an hour or two.
By this stage, some people will get the hang of it and learn to balance the motorcycle while accelerating. If you are one of them, then congratulations! You have mastered balancing in less than a day. You may skip to Day 2. If not, continue practicing.
Day 2: Learn to Ride the Bike!
Your body should remember the weight of the bike, how to pedal, and how to balance while accelerating. Now, we will force your brain and body to add a little adrenaline to what you have learned, but first you will need:
- A gently sloped area where there aren't any obstacles for you to crash into.
- Some protective gear. (Knee pads, gloves, sturdy close-toed shoes, helmet, etc.)
- At the flat area on top of the slope, feel and balance your bicycle. Review all the parts of the bike, especially the brakes.
- When you're ready, pedal down the slope. Voila, you are now balancing the bike while accelerating. Every time you think you are going too fast, slow down by lightly pressing the brakes. (Pressing the brake too suddenly or strongly might lead to the bike tumbling down the slope.)
- When you reach the flat area at the bottom of the slope, take advantage of the slowing acceleration by beginning to pedal.
Most (if not all) people get the hang of biking after this, but if your bike goes out of control, do not let it stop you from going back to the top of the slope and trying again.
Once you successfully manage to balance the bike all the way down the slope, then congratulations! You are almost ready to progress to Day 3 and ride the bike!
Day 2: Learn to Ride the Motorcycle!
By now, it is expected that you have already mastered balance and acceleration and are familiar with how the machine works. If not, repeat the previous steps until you're ready.
Make sure that you choose a path that is clear, with enough space on both the left and the right, and you are in second gear with the stand is kicked up. Roll down the throttle to the limit and balance it as well as you can. Make sure that you decelerate and hit the brakes slowly for a smooth stop. Repeat until you master it and be careful of falling.
Congratulations! You almost know how to ride the motorcycle!
Countersteering is the technique you consciously or unconsciously apply to initiate that lean. In short, you steer left to lean right, and vice versa. To fully understand the theory, you need to get your head around camber thrust, roll angle, and centripetal force. But to ride you only need to understand the practice.
— Mark Lindemann, Cycle World
Day 3, 4, and 5: Track Test (Counter Steering and Leaning)
Now find a good training track near you. It must be a smooth surfaced road without much traffic or other obstacles.
Here is what you will need to learn on the training track, whether you're riding a bike or a motorcycle:
1. Counter Steering: Basically this is the act of pushing the opposite arm to the direction that you desire to turn to and leaning into the turn. These skills should be perfected before doing a road test since this will help you perfect your turning skills. This can also help you recover your balance whenever an unexpected panic situation comes up.
2. Leaning: This skill is very challenging to learn at first, and may lead to imbalance if you panic. But believe it or not, you already know how to lean, you just have to get used to it and build confidence in doing it. This can be used on drifting to sharp curves and going slightly to the left or right without steering/counter steering.
3. Turning: Turning is a basic concept, but it may be challenging for beginners since changing directions may cause imbalance. These are the turns you must master before going to the next step:
- Quick Turns: This turn is the easiest to learn and the most frequently used when riding on roads. This can be used in changing lanes and overtaking. Although it is easy to learn, one must master it thoroughly. You must learn to accurately control and regain steady riding to avoid road accidents.
- J - Turns: This turn is used for road crossings, roads branching to the left or right, and curved roads. Every rider may have a different way of doing this turn—some slow down before getting to the curve and others lean to the left or right. Either way you must first master the turn by doing it slowly to avoid accidents.
- U - Turns: This skill is used on circular roads, sharp curves, or going to the opposite lane. If you have mastered J turns, then this will be an easy task.
- Turning to Go Over Humps: Humps (aka speed bumps) are road obstacles that help limit the speed of traffic. It is quite challenging for motorcycle and bike beginners to maintain and regain balance when encountering these obstacles. The best way to avoid an accident is slowing down to 0-5 kph or doing a full stop before passing over a hump. There are also different kinds of humps and the best way to know what to do when passing over them is experience it in a track test.
- Square Humps: When encountering this kind of hump, you must slow down your motorcycle to (almost) full stop (0-5 kph).
- Round Humps: Slowing down the motorcycle by rolling up the throttle is enough (10 - 20 kph).
- Wave Humps: Almost same as round humps, rolling up the throttle is enough (10 -20 kph).
- Polka Dots: These are plastic discs adhered to the road to slow traffic. Hold the throttle to (10 - 40 kph), and mind your balance, since these humps can be quite slippery.
- Unplanned Humps: Avoid! Or do a full stop (0-5 kph), kick to first gear for maximum pull of the motorcycle.
4. Riding With a Passenger. Riding alone is very different from riding with someone else. You will notice big differences in weight and balance. If you are used to riding alone, then you may have a hard time on getting used to having a passenger. It also makes leaning, regaining balance, and steering harder. There is also the uncertainty of your passenger moving unexpectedly disrupting your balance.
5. Avoiding Obstacles. This is one of the lessons that will save your life. You can put up red cones in different patterns and try to avoid them or turn around on them. Alternatively, you can use 1.5L coke bottles filled with water if you do not have red cones.
6. Changing Gears - Balancing and kicking to change the gears can be quite challenging to do at first, but you must practice to get used to it. You must also train to lower the gear while decelerating since some newbie accidents are caused by the sudden pull of the vehicle while lowering gears.
7. Decelerating - In previous steps, you mastered accelerating while keeping balance. Now you have to learn how to decelerate while still keeping your balance. Sudden deceleration might make you lose control of the machine. Also, always decelerating with only one brake may wear out the brakes, so try to use the front and back brakes at the same time. Also you must master the amount of deceleration you need when making turns, passing through narrow ways, and encountering humps.
Day 6 and 7: Road Test
After mastering all the skills of the track test, you can tackle the road. When doing your road test, always have a veteran rider to help you.
- Learn road rules and signs. It is necessary to know all the road signs and rules in order to ride properly and safely on the road.
- Get a "Rider In Training" shirt or sign and wear it. This signals other vehicles to adjust properly, knowing that you are a new rider.
- Make a plan with your riding veteran pal: map out the whole plan of where you'll go.
- At the starting point, consult with your riding veteran pal and get input and suggestions, then begin. Repeat all steps until you are confident enough to do it on your own.
Take note that some people may learn faster or slower than others. The important thing is your perseverance.
Did this guide help? Do you have anything to add or change? Do you have any questions? Then hit the comments and I will make sure to answer your inquiries. Cheers!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Sandra on May 08, 2019:
I also wanted to mention this information was very informative and it has help me to understand a lot thank you
Sandra on May 08, 2019:
I am a first time rider I am having a problem learning the gears. I took a riding course dropped the bike and at the time to counter Steer I did not understand so I had to leave the class very disappointed because this is something that I want to do this was my passion for a long time