10 Motorcycle Riding Tricks You Don’t Know, Yet

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10 Motorcycle Riding Tricks You Don’t Know, Yet

Here’s 10 handy little motorcycle riding tricks that will make you smoother, safer and, in some cases, faster. They’ll work on any bike, any time, whether you’re cruising, tearing up a mountain road or heading out around the world.

Photo by Bok-Choy

In Traffic, Drag Your Back Brake For Better Balance


Picking your way through traffic at low speed is one of the hardest things we have to do as riders. Managing a heavy, unwieldy motorcycle while watching out for drivers and trying to figure out if your bars are going to fit between those mirrors requires complete attention, strong situational awareness, good hand-eye coordination and, sometimes, an extraordinary sense of balance. We can’t help you with the first three, but here’s a trick that’ll help make threading through cars less like walking a tight rope: drag a little back brake.

Doing so smooths out power delivery and preps you for emergency stops of course, but by pushing the front end down as you accelerate and eliminating the bounciness that occurs as you move between acceleration and deceleration, it also seems to help with lateral balance. Maybe that’s because it allows you to focus on only side-to-side movements, without backwards and forwards heaves or simply the added smoothness, but it really will help you eliminate wobbles and uncertainty at walking-pace speeds.

To do it, don’t just stomp on the brake lever and hold it there, just graze it with your toe and keep a minimal amount of pressure. Barely enough to provide a little friction, just enough so you won’t coast if you were to pull in your clutch. Go try it, it works.

Blip The Throttle To Make Downshifts Smoother


Grab a lower gear as you’re braking, let the clutch out quickly, and revs temporarily spike as the engine struggles to catch up to the rear tire’s speed. Downshift too quickly and you’ll lock up the rear tire due to the engine’s compression. This limits how hot you can come into a corner, since you need to manage decreased rear wheel traction as you begin to turn. The solution? Rev matching. By blipping revs to match rear wheel speed, the engine doesn’t need to catch up all of a sudden.

Simple to explain, but takes some practice to get right because it’s all about timing and feel. You’re braking with two fingers, right? Good, use the others to quickly blip the throttle after you pull in the clutch and downshift, spiking revs to where you think they’ll be in the lower gear. If you get that right, you can just let that clutch spring back out to seamlessly engage that lower gear. You should be able to maintain consistent brake force while blipping. That, plus knowing the amount of throttle to apply and the right revs to reach is where the practice comes in. So go do that and you’ll be rewarded with smoother riding, everywhere, but especially when flying into corners.

Trail Brake For Faster, Safer Cornering


Whoa, whoa, whoa? You mean you brake in a corner? Yep, and it’ll make you both faster and safer. Here’s how and why.

Applying a motorcycle’s front brake will slow you down. Of course. And, in doing so, it’ll compress the front suspension and shift the weight onto the front tire, expanding its contact patch and increasing its grip. That has the dual effect of making the bike steer quicker and making it so you can push the front end harder. Together, that adds miles per hour.

You should really learn how to do this in the safe environment of a race track, where there’s no cars around, where vision is good and where falling down won’t kill you.

Just brake a little later into a corner so you’ll still be on the brakes a little as you begin to turn. Feel good? Brake a little later the next time and a little later after that. Eventually, after much practice, you’ll get to the point where you’re hitting the apex at pace, just as you let go of the last little bit of front brake and begin to apply a little throttle. That’s right, no coasting, you swap brake for throttle at the apex.

Later braking means more time spent accelerating on the straights means faster lap times.

It also helps with safety. Because the front suspension will already be compressed, the front tire’s contact patch already maximized, you’ll be able to use that brake lever to tighten or widen your line, without upsetting the bike. That pays huge dividends on the road, where you often come around a blind corner to spot a patch of gravel or similar. Trail braking will help you avoid that obstacle in a safe, fluid, smooth manner.

Be aware of the grip a tire has available. Leaning and braking both require grip from the same, finite source. The more you lean, the less you can brake and vice versa. As you near max lean, you near max grip. As you near max brake, you also near max grip. Cross the two and you’ll be laying on the ground, watching your bike cartwheel through a gravel trap.

Is This Corner Tightening Or Opening Up?

You’re in a blind corner, wondering when you can start getting on the throttle. In the absence of other visual references, simply look at the horizon point where the two sides of the road appear to meet. If that point is holding a steady distance from you, the corner is continuing at a constant radius. If it’s moving towards you, the corner is tightening. If it’s moving away from you, the corner opens up and you can begin accelerating. Sound like magic? It works like it too.

Forget The Clutch For Upshifts


Forgive me if this sounds a little remedial, but I see a lot of guys out on the road who don’t know how to do this. Works on any bike, be it crotch rocket, assless chaps mobile or two-wheeled Hummer H2.

The benefit is smoother, faster shifts and slightly lower clutch wear. It’s just easier and will better enable you to work shifting into the rest of your riding.

Super easy to do. As you accelerate and are approaching the point where you want to shift up, sneak your toe under the lever and apply a little upwards pressure. Now, quickly close the throttle a little while keeping that upward pressure on the shift liver, feel the gear slip home, and open it back up.

Takes a little practice to make it smooth, but once you’ve nailed it, you’ll be surprised at how little time it took. Doesn’t work so well if you’re cruising along at constant speed or decelerating (then why are you upshifting?), you’ll eventually just learn to get all your shifts out of the way as you increase speed, then be in the right gear for cruising along the highway or whatever. On some bikes, I still use the clutch between 1st and 2nd, just because going through neutral occasionally requires that in order to maintain smoothness. You’ll figure it out.

Up Next: Steer Left To Go Right – Page 2 >>

  • Zachary Church

    Thanks for this! I didn’t know that about shifting without the clutch!

    • Chris McAlevy

      It’s so great, and very easy to master. Personally, my bike (a 2007 gsxr 750) has trouble with clutch free shifts from 1-2, so as Wes said I usually use the clutch for those. You can actually also downshift without the clutch, though it is much more difficult.

      • Michael Love

        if you like locking up your rear wheel.

        • nick2ny

          Downshifting without the clutch is easy, its just the opposite of upshifting without the clutch. To downshift, come off the throttle (or keep a steady throttle), then apply downward pressure on the shift lever, and gently roll on the throttle–when you feel the gear change, roll on a bit more throttle.

          How else are you going to ride when your clutch cable breaks?

          Also, the rear wheel won’t “lock” from a downshift unless the engine was stopped… it would just rotate at whatever speed it likes rotating for a given engine speed, until the rear wheel and engine sped up (as the bike slowed down) to match the road speed and the slip ratio came back down to 0%. (Assuming the clutching isn’t slipping at all).

          • Chris McAlevy

            It won’t lock, but it can slow down enough that it will effectively lock; go from static to dynamic friction as the tire breaks loose from the ground. I’ve definitely put out a puff of smoke from downshifting at speed without rev-matching (or a slipper clutch)

            • Michael Love

              Maybe lock up isn’t the right term, but you will definitely have the back end sliding around if you don’t have a slipper clutch and are not careful.

              • Nick

                yes you can lock up the rear I done it several times when I was inexperienced & forgot to blip the throttle/didn’t get it right. This was on good road rubber too without a slipper clutch

              • rudedog4

                I dropped a bike once and broke the clutch lever, but I rode it home by up and downshifting without the clutch, and never had the back end slide. My 81 GS850G did not have a slipper clutch.

            • nick2ny

              I doubt you can shift a bike and “lock” up the rear wheel without using the clutch. It just wouldn’t go into gear…

  • Brammofan

    Under the “Trail Brake for faster, safer cornering,” you say: “Applying a motorcycle’s front brake will slow you down.” I think you meant to write, “Applying a motorcycle’s REAR brake will slow you down…”

    • jonoabq

      no, it’s correct. Want more weight on the front?…easy shift 150 pounds to the front wheel just by squeezing the front brake lever, want it in bak for more grip driving out of a corner, get on the gas.

      • Brammofan

        Geeze… my bad. I always thought “trail” meant the rear brake. I’m an idiot. Thanks for setting me straight, kind sir.

        • BillW

          “Trail” in this context refers to trailing off the brake pressure as you approach the apex of the corner. If you’re also a car guy, you may have heard the term (or experienced) “trailing throttle oversteer.” Same sense of “trail”, meaning reducing.

          • Ladeef

            Or Rake and Trail, as trail = the horizontal distance from where the steering axis intersects the ground to where the front wheel touches the ground.

          • Jeff M

            No. It means holding your braking into the corner. Most are taught “straight line” braking…brake in a straight line and off the brakes before you turn in. Trail braking, as stated above, is continuing the braking as you turn into the corner in order to keep the weight on the front tire. Re-read the paragraph.

            • BillW

              Jeff, we’re in violent agreement here. Yes, it means carrying your braking past turn-in and into the corner, but the “trailing” part actually refers to gradually decreasing brake pressure as you turn until the brake is fully released at the apex. If you don’t do that, the combination of braking forces and cornering forces can exceed the limits of the tire’s grip, and down you go. Your tire only has a certain amount of grip, and you can spend on it any combination of accelerating, cornering, and braking. In a straight line, you can use nearly 100% of the grip on braking. But as soon as you add cornering, you have to reduce braking to avoid exceeding 100%.

      • Mark Vizcarra

        This only applys to bikes were the weight is front front biased. How bout cruisers that are rear biased. Not everyone here rides a sportbike/standard

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Physics is physics, even when a motorcycle is poorly designed. Using the brakes shifts the weight forwards.

          • BillW

            Physics is physics, and of course there is forward weight transfer, but in my experience, cruiser chassis geometry doesn’t lend itself to trail braking. The ones I rode in the past really liked to stand up under braking.

            And of course, on a long-wheelbase, rear-weight-biased cruiser, the rear brake is far more effective than on a sportbike. You still get more stopping power from the front brake than from the rear, but for maximum braking, the rear brake will still add to your stopping power.

            • jonoabq

              If you are riding tires that have decent grip and are in good condition you should be able to heavily load the front tire (please don’t do this all at once) and stop far shorter than if you are tentative on the front brake and dragging the rear all over the place. The key thing here is learning to manage brake/gas inputs smoothly (lots of practice) so that in a panic situation they are ingrained and just seem to happen. You should use every commute, trip to get coffee, errand as an opportunity to hard wire proper technique into your head/hands/body. Being lazy and coasting through corners off the gas, or dragging the rear brake to bleed off speed or stop at signs/lights are missed opportunities to develop skills that may save your hide when something catches you off guard.

              • Piglet2010

                I learned to hold a steady throttle and clutch for brake-torque riding* by practicing creeping up to red lights, with the goal of putting a foot down as few times as possible.

                *Something I had real trouble doing when I first tried it.

              • HoldenL

                Do people really coast through corners? That’s scary. I learned to drive in a car with a manual transmission, and “don’t coast through turns” was one of the first commandments I got.

                Then, one day, I was coasting through a turn when a dump truck rounded a curve, coming right at me, and I barely escaped getting run over (I was driving a ’68 Beetle), I vowed to never, ever coast through a turn or corner ever again. Always be in gear, always four wheels or two.

                • Mugget

                  I’m not sure whether you mean coasting as in zero throttle input, or coasting as in neutral. If neutral, well yeah – there’s a reason they call it “angel gear”…

                  But just to clarify there is no reason why you can’t coast through a corner with zero throttle input. I can’t think of any reason why someone would disengage the drive gear for the entirety of a corner in any vehicle…

            • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

              Oh man, yeah don’t ever trailbrake on a cruiser. Sorry, I missed that that was the question. Your best bet on those things is just to go real slow, try and spot stuff way ahead of time so you can prepare for it and go real easy on the controls.

              • Piglet2010

                The other way to avoid crashing on a cruiser is to push it out of your garage into the driveway, wash and polish it while your neighbors watch, then push it back into the garage. And have a trailer to haul it behind your truck if you want to take it somewhere. ;)

    • Jeff Mauney

      Applying rear brake in a fast corner is a no-no. Locking the rear and then rapidly unlocking is what causes high-side crashes. You might want to amend the article to be very clear about that point, author. While experienced riders know to stay away from that rear brake in a turn, newbies might misunderstand your description of trail braking and end up in a ditch with their bike on their head.

      • Piglet2010

        You can also high-side by breaking loose the rear wheel under power, and getting off the throttle – usually not an issue unless you are riding a super-bike* (or a super-sport near the limit).

        *Or the naked street-fighter equivalents.

        • HammSammich

          It was on a Bonneville, not a super-sport, but this is exactly what caused my high-side years ago. I was very careful not to use the rear brake when the rear started sliding out from under me, but rolling off the throttle was enough for the tire to grab and the bike to flip and smack me into the asphalt…live and learn (the hard way) I suppose…

          • Piglet2010

            Was this on a clean racetrack, or questionable quality street pavement?

            • HammSammich

              Oh, good quality street pavement but there was leftover traction sand from the winter that I foolishly didnt expect. I got on the throttle coming out of a low speed corner in 2nd gear, and the rear broke loose. Unquestionably, my mistake…At the point where the bike lost traction, I probably should’ve just let it low-side and ridden it out, or maybe I could’ve tried to let off the throttle just slightly rather than rolling off entirely since the Bonnie has pretty strong engine braking in lower gears. Two-Sprained wrists, a severly damaged helmet chinbar and $3,500 damage to the bike…tough lesson to learn, but hopefully wont make the same mistake twice.

  • Hooligan

    Good advice on all counts. Next lesson how to dance on the footpegs to help the weight distrubtion.

  • Mike

    Good tips. Countersteering, Using your Knees and Looking where you want to end up are all taught in standard UK motorbike lessons. Maybe not the knees as standard actually, but I was taught it by an instructor, and it also helps centralise your weight for better balance during manouevres.

    While it takes an age to get your licence you get your money’s worth in terms of safety!

    And dragging your rear brake works a treat, I do it but don’t know who told me, think I just tried it once and it worked.

    Another good tip, press down on a footpeg to move sideways across the lane while staying pointing in a straight line

  • Jasiek Wrobel

    A quick question about two finger braking. I brake with two fingers. If I pull the brake strong, it rests against other fingers wrapped around the throtle. Would shorter brake lever help? If two fingers are enough, why are bike levers always full-hand length? Bicycles usually come with two finger levers.

    Also, as I cover the brakes, it is virtually impossible for me to not cover the clutch as well. Something in my mind wants to have hands symmetrical. Anyone else doing this?

    • Eric

      I always rest two fingers on the clutch and two on the brake. I wonder if your brake is fine if you cannot reach full emergency breaking without squeezing the fingers that hold the throttle.
      Also I always apply some rearbrake especially at the beginning of the braking maneuvre.. I find it helps compressing the front end and adds a 15% or so to the breaking.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      On the brake lever, try adjusting it outwards a little bit to give you a little more room. It may need bleeding as well.

      • Jasiek Wrobel

        It went through a fluid replacement recently. Though brake lines may be tad weak (this bike has 9 years). I adjusted it outwards to the end of my comfort zone, and it is tolerable now (full emergency braking with 2 fingers on the throttle). But yes, the lever is at the far end of the comfort zone.
        Are there 2 finger brake levers for bikes? It seems like it would help. I am wondering why the standard levers are not 2 finger ones.

        One more thing. 6 of “tricks you do not know yet” were part of my initial bike training. I thought that this was a common knowledge. Did I just have an awesome instructor?

    • Jeff M

      While you may be able to adjust the lever and bleeding may make a difference it may be the bike…if it is use 4 fingers.

  • kentaro

    For the new/prospective riders out there reading HFL, don’t use the front brake in the turn! Touch the front brake just a little too much and you’re face is in the pavement. Braking in the turn is something you should work on once you become a more experienced rider. While you get used to riding, slow down before the turn, turn your head to look at the end of the turn, and accelerate through the turn.

    • Kevin

      As they say: slow in, fast out. If you’re scared in a corner, you are going too fast. Go slow enough to be mindful of your technique, then gradually increase your speed as long as you feel calm and engaged. If you start feeling twitchy and nervous, it’s time to back off and observe.

    • Piglet2010

      Do not brake into a turn in the wet with age-hardened tires. :(

  • Michael Howard

    The “I/we know everything and you know nothing” attitude in some of these article titles is insulting to your readers who actually know how to ride. Is there a reason you couldn’t have said “… riding tricks you MIGHT not know…”? Or is RideApart’s target audience new riders?

    • yoooks

      I was promised tricks I didn’t know, and didn’t find any.

  • HammSammich

    Countersteering (or lack thereof) is one of the best “tells” whether someone is dangerously inexperienced on a bike. I see way too many guys decked out in their Saturday Pirate riding gear literally throwing their weight against the bike when trying to turn a corner…This + Target fixation = certain doom…

    • Piglet2010

      I rode pillion (and I am nearly 250 pounds in riding gear) with a guy on a Gixxer Thou around a track, and he was not counter-steering significantly. As for experience, the guy has won two AMA top level professional championships, and been on two FIM World Endurance championship teams.

      • Jeff M

        You can’t steer a bike at speed withOUT push/counter steer so you may be thinking about something else or be confused. (btw, our school has 20+ TW’s and I shift up and down clutchless all day long and have for 11 years)

        • Stuki

          As he says. You simply cannot get a bike to lean, hence turn, without moving the tire contact patch towards the outside, and you cannot do that without turning the handlebars away from where you want to turn.

          The possible exception proving the rule, is strong crosswinds. Enough of a windgust can move the lighter front end of a fully rigged (faired) bike more than the heavier rear, autoinitiating a lean, hence turn, into the wind. At least theoretically. In practice, I’m fairly certain that most of what people complain about when it comes to bikes being unstable in gusty winds, is in fact unconscious application of countersteering: A gust from the left starts knocking you off the saddle, you pull the right handlebar to right yourself, in effect countersteering to lean the bike and turn WITH the wind, hence reinforcing whatever effect the initial gust may have had on the bike itself.

          • Robert Miles

            For you guys who are currently riding motorcycles, yet seem to believe that countersteering is a choice or a thing that needs to be learned, it is super easy to confirm that you are countersteering constantly.

            In a safe place, at a medium speed, open up your left hand so your palm is against the near side of the grip only, so you can only push it. Do not hook your fingers against the top or around the far side at all. The idea is to make it possible to push only, impossible to pull. For the throttle side, the opposite: Elevate your hand off the grip, and hook your fingers over the far side of the grip so you can only pull, not push. You’ll know you’re cheating with either hand if you don’t maintain this contact. Now sit up straight and just try to turn right. That’s right, just turn those bars to the right and change lanes. The truth is you’ve _been_ countersteering the whole time. And when the turn is over? Notice how you relax the counterpressure to allow the bike to stand up again.

            It might help your control to be aware you’re doing this, though, so it’s worth experimentation. You’ll find you’re not muscling your bike around, it outweighs you. You’re politely asking it to please shift its center of balance out from under it with light, counter-direction control inputs.

            For ultimate control, don’t hang off or lean, try gripping the tank tightly and centrally with your knees around a tight turn. You’ll stabilize, relax and find the control input needed from your arms become light, smooth and precise, and you’ll see it’s all in the handlebar input after all.

            • Mitchel Durnell

              Yes, telling someone to actively counter-steer is redundant; unless you are pushing a bike or bicycle by hand at slow walking pace, you are always doing this (even when the front of the bike is pointing into the turn, it’s still counter-steering).

        • Piglet2010

          Tell that to Jason Pridmore – reportedly one of his instructors peeved Keith Code by being about to steer around his “No BS” bike with the fixed handlebars.

          Or take a Star Motorcycle School track class and see for yourself.

          P.S. I can do all the shifts on my TW200 without using the clutch, but the 1-2 up-shift does not go smoothly. Maybe it will change with more break-in (my bike only has about 1K on it). And I doubt it is my technique, since I can do clutch-less 2-3, 3-4, and 4-5 up-shifts smoothly on the TW200, and 1-2 clutch-less up-shifts smoothly on my Bonnie, Honda Dullsville, and pre-gen Ninjette.

          • Mugget

            Sorry, but no one is exempt from physics…

            And what do you mean “about to steer” the No BS bike? He either could, or he couldn’t… and I know he couldn’t (just a little thing called the LAWS of physics), at least not enough to get around a track at speed. Maybe enough to veer off the straight into the weeds… LOL.

            • Piglet2010

              Er, meant “able” – post now edited.

              And you were not there, so how do you know? And the laws of physics are not being violated by steering a motorcycle “bottom up”. Ever see someone ride a bicycle hands-off around a typical street corner? Quite easy to do, and the only significant differences are that the motorcycle is heavier with wider contact patches, and has more gyroscopic effect from the wheels and crankshaft rotating.

              • Mugget

                Interesting that you mention riding a bicycle no hands…

                This is exactly what’s shown in the Twist DVD! They have a dial setup on the steering stem so you can see exactly which way the ‘bars are pointing. Yes, you can initiate a turn by using body weight. But in doing so you are using body weight to initiate a counter-steer movement! I highly recommend watching the DVD, it goes through everything and explains it perfectly. I think the “no hands” steering example would be a real eye opener to you…

                If you want to steer effectively it’s much better to make the input directly, through the handlebars. Steering by bodyweight can be done (obviously), but by comparison to a properly executed “quick steer” it’s basically ineffectual.

      • HammSammich

        “…he was not counter-steering significantly.”

        Counter-steering is generally subtle in its appearance, but it’s absence is not…you can see when someone is obviously throwing their weight against the bike to get it to lean over in a turn. It looks dramatic and provides much less control.

  • Kawa Nut

    One thing to add… extend your vision and train your peripheral vision. Keep your eyes moving and forward… well past the front tire. Too many folks are watching the road 20-40 ft in front of them. Always look as far down the road as you can, and scan the stuff with your peripheral vision – something pops up, give it a quick look and adjust speed, lane position, etc to compensate.

    • Piglet2010

      The scanning 12 seconds ahead when sight-lines permit is a good rule.

      • runnermatt

        I would disagree and say that you should scan as far ahead as possible while identifying hazards/concerns with peripheral vision. When hazards/concerns are identified you should focus and assess them and any action to take or that may be taken. As a person approaches things more visual details will be available which may cause them to see a hazard that they could not identify from further away.

        One of my biggest worries is when driving or riding at night and I see the reflector on telephone box (or something else reflective) off the side of the road. I tend to focus on that reflector trying to decide if it is an animal or not. What worries me about that situation is that don’t see an animal because I am trying to decide if a reflector is a threat.

        • Shrek

          Then you have target fixation, even after you identify a target you should be looking at where you want to go.

  • Jeff Mauney

    Another tip I thought would be in the article when I saw the lead photo is standing on the pegs. I used to ride with a local group about 10 years ago, many of whom were very new to riding. I can’t tell you how many times I watched people go over railroad tracks, across potted road spots, etc., with their asses planted firmly on the seat. Transfer your weight to your legs and let them take the shock. This prevents you getting jounced around and helps to isolate the sudden vibrations from your arms, thus improving control over the rough spots. It can be a bit problematic on supersports with severe rear-sets, though. And it’s nearly impossible on floorboard scooters, of course. But… well, they’re scooters. Get a real bike.

    • Piglet2010

      Huh? I stand over these types of things, as well as speed humps all the time on my Honda Elite 110 (and of course the regular motorcycles too). And I am a relatively clumsy oaf.

    • appliance5000

      Another thing I do if I’m approaching tracks or raised expansion joints etc.. is give it a little throttle to lighten the front end. You don’t need much and it takes the edge of unavoidable obstacles.

      • Piglet2010

        They teach that in MSF BRC, where students get to run over 2×4′s.

  • Charles Quinn

    Great list, and I can confirm that all this stuff works as well on cruisers as it does on sportbikes. If I was to pick a golden rule for beginners I’d say ‘Look where you want to go’ — target fixation, especially fixation on the apex of a bend rather than the exit, got me into trouble plenty of times as a learner.

  • Piglet2010

    1. The engine works as a gyroscope, helping low-speed balance. I was taught about twice idle on a larger engine bike, and a bit faster (i.e. 3000 to 4000 rpm on a smaller displacement bike). Keep the clutch in the friction zone, and control speed with the rear brake.

    2. A lot of bikes can be downshifted smoothly without the clutch.

    3. I was told *not* to trail-brake in the wet by Jason Pridmore (who advocates its use in the dry).

    4. Looking at the verge is taught in Eric Trow’s Stayin’ Safe road riding classes.

    5. Agreed that it depends on the bike, e.g. my TW200 does not like clutch-less 1-2 shifts, but is fine on the other upshifts as long as they are done with the throttle fairly wide open.

    6. Some racing schools teach using minimal counter-steer, and steering the bike from the “bottom up” instead – best to learn both techniques and see what works best for you on a particular bike.

    7. Yes, or you can tighten your line by looking inside of where you want to got (another thing Pridmore teaches).

    8 and 9. Taught in any decent advanced riding class.

    10. Having feedback from a trained instructor is helpful, as is being followed by someone with a video camera.

  • John

    ………”if you just got on a motorcycle for the first time ever”.

  • John

    11. Keep your head level with the road, not the bike.

    • Sam I Am

      This is a big one. I have minimal depth perception and this is the one trick, along with keeping a long sightline, that’s given me back the confidence to lean hard into corners. Kind of like a pilot keeping their eyes on the horizon.

    • Mitchel Durnell

      Contextual tip; on the track I’m starting to tilt my head in on big sweepers which lets me drop my shoulder even more. Kind of a mind screw but you can compensate.

  • Piglet2010

    Part of it is also not relaxing because one is thinking/trying too hard – something I have had to work on a lot. Selling my CBR600F4i and getting a Ninja 250R also helped me a lot.

  • Furshlugginer

    Shifting without the clutch won’t do any harm to my transmission?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Not if you do it right.

      • Furshlugginer

        So all I have to do is check my transmission after a while, and if it’s busted, I’ll know to try upshifting different. Rock on.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Just do it by feel. A well executed clutchless shift will be fast and smooth. Don’t doubt it, just go practice it.

          • Piglet2010

            Lee Parks says/writes that a clutch-less up-shift puts *less* strain on the transmission when properly done.

    • Justin McClintock

      Yes, over time, it will. I don’t know anybody with 60K+ miles on any one bike who would actually recommend that. I do know three people who have lunched transmissions because of clutchless upshifts.

    • Eric Shay

      Just don’t shift under power. Since motorcycles have constant mesh gears they are spinning together whether you have the clutch in or not. The electronic “doohickeys” for clutchless shifting just shut down power for a split second for the shift, and are now on select new warrantied motorcycles.

      • Piglet2010

        If you have a “hard” rev limiter, you can just preload the shifter, and the up-shift will happen when the engine cuts out. :)

    • Mugget

      A bad shift with the clutch will do harm to your transmission…

  • richardstowey

    A lot of this stuff and more is in the Police Riders Motorcycle Handbook. Very useful.

  • Brandon Nozaki Miller

    pshhh who needs a clutch

  • Roadcraft

    Thanks to youtube channel Roadcraft Nottingham for the videos

  • Roadcraft

    3 of the videos here are from RoadcraftNottingham on YouTube. Feel free to visit and subscribe. :-)

  • Nonstop Banter

    I have a lot of confusion about selecting the right gear. Either I am in too high or too low, especially while cornering. I have had quite a few near misses with the engine almost stalling. How do I get to that sweet spot? Especially on the twisties? Sorry don’t have a track school or a MSF kind of establishment to learn from.

    • Justin McClintock

      Get something with a twin. Then it won’t matter as much.

      • Piglet2010

        Not if the twin is a Ninja 250R. :)

    • Chris McAlevy

      If you’re having problems with the bike almost stalling in turns, downshift before the turn. If you’re comfortable with it, do it while braking, and if you’re not, downshift and then brake.

    • Eric Shay

      If you keep the RPM’s higher, riding will be smoother and you won’t have that problem.

    • Piglet2010

      Higher is better – last time I was on the track I was starting my downshifts at about 11K rpm (so the shift actually occurred at about 10K rpm) on my pre-gen Ninjette. You should be downshifting as soon as you start braking for a corner, not waiting and trying to get a shift in at the last second when you should be concentrating on turning in at the right point.

    • Mugget

      Just learn what the ideal rev range is, and pay attention to that, plan your gear changes to stay in that range. For instance let’s say that the engine starts to “lug” if it goes below 3,000rpm – so just make a mental note and change before the RPM drops so low.

      Depending on your bike it may not be pleasant to corner at high RPM. That can lead to jerky and abrupt power delivery. If you’re on a bike bike you’ll probably find that somewhere around the midrange will provide the smoothest ride.

      • Nonstop Banter

        this is exactly what I did. Thanks!

    • http://www.beamazingtoday.co.uk noreen @ beamazingtoday

      Recently did a BikeSafe weekend which was a great refresher. (If you are in the UK I can’t recommend it highly enough.) Used to have the same doubts re: gear selection especially in twisty bends. The reminder that solved it for me was this – gears 1 and 2 are for pulling away, gears 5 and 6 are for cruising at speed, but 3 and 4 have got the strongest acceleration / deceleration / responsiveness to the throttle, so those are the ones you want to use for best control. The revs range will vary depending on the power of your bike, from what I gather. Hope this helps you like it helped me, it certainly quieted the nagging doubting voice at the back of my mind.

    • Nonstop Banter

      Thank you all so much! these tips have helped a LOT!!!

  • eviladrian

    My instructor called it the “flappy elbows” test – can you move your elbows around mid-corner or are you doing a pushup on the bars?

  • Stuki

    It’s not just sports bikes.Lots of apehanger cuiser guys have fully stretched out arms; fighting just to hang onto the handlebars against the wind. Not the easiest position from which to control the bike.

  • Gabriel Torres

    The “Learning the Yummy Way” guy is the perfect mix of casual and professional.

  • Branden Hellman

    Geeze, with a title like “10 Motorcycle Trick you don’t know, Yet” and then delivering the basics, one would think you were addressing a bunch of noob riders.

    Please try to have the title reflect the content.

  • Jack Norton

    Am I the only one who finds covering the brake in traffic hard?

    My striple has a fairly twitchy throttle and I find it a lot harder to control with half my hand off it covering the brake. I guess I might just need to practice more, anyone got any tips?

    Otherwise great stuff as usual Wes & co

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Try adjusting your levers, the angle of your arm, wrist and hand is a big factor. Different bars with a different reach, height or angle might help there too.

      • Jack Norton

        Thanks man, since this article I decided to try and just practice covering the brake – funnily enough after about a week of doing it on my commute it just started to feel normal and now I do it by default and not covering feels weird.

  • FredZilch

    Many of those skills I stumbled upon ages ago mountain biking.

  • HyperRider

    Great Article!

  • Damian Solorzano

    Great stuff. I don’t ride anymore, but the visual tips are what I give my students.

  • Mugget

    I would say that it’s never okay to ride with locked arms, not even on a straight. It just seems like a bad habit to me, not to mention that it will just make your wrists sore…

    Better to practice good form all the time, so you can develop good habits.

    But yeah, I’ve just gotta wonder when I see people riding around with their elbows locked straight – just want to pull them up and say “hey you know if you went and did some rider training you’d be more comfortable, safer and faster?”

  • http://statesofmotion.blogspot.com/ FastPatrick

    Re: #7.

    We miss you, Marco.

  • killajersey

    Pay attention to slow moving or parked cars front tire position when someone is in the driver seat, it’s a technique I always use even when I’m driving.

  • killajersey

    follow me on twitter & instagram @killajersey

  • Mike Thompson

    screw everything … hold it open till the sun goes down .. then give it more.

  • Rameses the 2nd

    This is a fantastic article. I have been riding for a while now and I learned a few things from this article.

  • Tom

    Where by “You Don’t Know”, you mean “Are Taught in the BRC”?

  • William Connor

    The rear brake is also much more useful if you ride with a passenger or on other big bikes besides just cruisers.

  • anthony

    Use BOTH brakes… period. You’ll stop sooner which could mean the difference between an accident and a close call. All my rider training teachers also recommended using both brakes to stop quickly. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-f34n_74oM

  • http://www.bikersdatingwebsites.com kathy0501
  • Paul Leonard

    Sorry Wes, If your ever in a situation where you can ignore the back break because there’s no weight on it than you were going way way to freaking fast and not paying attention (90% of your road safety already gone).

    But really there are two brakes for a reason…
    When slowing you wanna NOT collapse the front which is why you use both brakes to scrub speed then transfer to front only if it’s a panic stop where you can’t take time to get the rear back down. Why do you think they spent so much money and put so much hype on Anti-Dive forks in the late 80′s?! It’s to KEEP the front suspension from collapsing and lifting the rear end up; once it’s collapsed you are not at max breaking because you’ve pulled up 30% of your braking power up off the road.

    I will say your advice to shift weight forward is somewhat track applicable because in the corner you want to weight the front to fight push and tuck (which is why folks like Keith Code preach not to use it), but in the real world that is NOT your biggest problem in life.