Everyone wants to go fast. Let’s face it: You didn’t buy that motorcycle to drive 10 mph under the speed limit and let it collect dust in your garage. You love riding your bike and want to get better at it.
No matter what level of rider someone is, they should always be trying to learn and improve. Becoming a better and faster rider doesn’t happen overnight. Patience is required, but if you approach riding with a plan and know what you need to do, you should see gradual and steady improvement. Here are some tips to help you become a better motorcycle rider.
Establish Expectations and Goals
First, you should establish what improvements you want to see. For some, that means riding on tracks and competing in races, and for others that simply means learning the basics. Having goals and expectations will serve as reminders of why you’re trying to improve.
Whatever improvement you want to see, you should establish it from the outset. It could involve completing a lap in a certain amount of time or being able to avoid hitting every apex. Write it down and figure out how you are going to accomplish your riding goals. This can involve multiple steps or even just one or two, but either way, you should figure out how you are going to make your riding goals a reality.
Make Sure You Are Using Proper Cornering Techniques
Cornering effectively is one of the most skillful and difficult things you can do on a motorcycle. It is an extremely nuanced skill that requires attention to detail. Everything from your body positioning to how you view a corner matters. It involves slowing down gracefully, yet maintaining balance and a healthy amount of speed. Here are some tips for how to corner effectively:
- Adjust your speed before you enter a corner: Brake lighter and longer. Make sure your bike is under control and your body is in the correct position for a turn, and then accelerate as you’re heading out of the corner. When you enter a turn comfortably, you can come out of it faster.
- Look through the corner: Use vantage points to determine how tight a turn is. Do not focus on one point of reference. Instead, look where you want your bike to go. Ultimately, your bike goes where you are looking, so you should peer through a corner to the other side and creating a roadmap in your mind on how to get through it. This can also help you check for conditions and potential hazards that await you.
- Push your bike to the inside of a corner: There will be times when you do not anticipate a turn properly, and it is tighter than you thought. In that scenario, you should push the inside handlebar down or lean into it with your knee. Then, gently use the rear brake, which will make for a more natural turn.
- Accelerate through the corner: As you exit the corner, start to accelerate and your bike will straighten up. You won’t be able to come out of a corner too fast at first. The speed at which you are comfortable accelerating should increase as you gain experience.
Have Firm and Relaxed Hands
When your body is tense, you react in kind. Instead, your hands should be calmly firm. If you are not relaxed and your hand stays on the throttle, you could accelerate erratically or make sudden movements, especially on rough roads. Not being relaxed can also create cramps in your hands after a while.
There is debate on how you should hold the throttle, and it really all depends on your experience level. One thing you can do is keep your thumb under the throttle as opposed to resting it on top, which gives you no control. Also, keep those wrists straight.
Know How to Accelerate Properly
Going fast involves a lot more than simply twisting the throttle to accelerate. How smoothly you shift gears usually determines how quickly you can go. If you have never driven a manual car, shifting can become an interesting new challenge. The ultimate goal in shifting is smoothness, which is achieved by being attentive to how your bike behaves.
If your motorcycle reacts erratically while you’re letting off the clutch, you probably aren’t smooth enough. When your bike starts staggering upon shifting, you might be too heavy on the throttle. The key is to pay attention to how the different parts of your bike — the clutch, throttle and gear selector — are interacting with each other.
Know When and How to Practice Riding
Practice, practice, practice! It cannot be stressed enough how important getting your 10,000 riding hours in is to you being a better and faster motorcycle rider. Even the best riders are constantly learning new tricks and techniques to help them improve. Knowing when and how to practice is equally important to ensure you are learning and developing skills properly.
The best places to practice are big, empty parking lots and closed-course tracks. Go into a session knowing what you what to work on so you make the most of your time. Riding on different types of roads is a great way to build experience and add versatility to your riding skills. Researching what techniques professionals use and how they developed their skills is a great way to plan what you want to practice.
It’s important to remember that riding a motorcycle is just like anything else that requires muscle memory. Expertise only comes with practice.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Becoming a faster and better motorcycle rider takes time, practice and patience. Establishing smaller goals that lead to a bigger one is a great way to stay motivated. Patience is important to avoid developing bad habits. There are no shortcuts to becoming a faster rider.
It should also be pointed out that anyone who has not received professional instruction should. Trained professionals have seen it all and will help you avoid common pitfalls on the way to your ultimate goals. Just remember, riding your motorcycle should be fun. It’s about the journey, not the destination.