Riding a bicycle and riding a motorcycle are almost the same. Just that the later is a bit more sophisticated and has a lot more weight. If you're used to driving a car, riding a motorcycle won't be so difficult. All you need do is to find more balance and ride with caution. It might seem intimidating at first, but you will definitely get a hang of it in little or no time. Do you wish to learn how to ride a motorcycle? We at Naijauto have gone the extra mile to bring you a comprehensive beginners guide to make the process the least stressful.
1. Inspect the motorcycle
A lot of first time bike riders don't carry out any checks before mounting the machine. This is probably as a result of the excitement at the time. This minor inspection helps you determine if the bike is in good condition, so you don't get into an accident or encounter faults midway into the ride.
First of all, check the controls - throttle, hose, cables, pedals and levers. If any feels to loose, then you have no business riding the motorcycle till it gets fixed. Afterwards, you can inspect the battery, mirrors, headlights, back lights, from and rear tyres. Lastly, check the chain, shocks, suspensions, frame and fluid levels. Once you can ascertain that they are all in order, you can proceed to the next step - safety gear.
To reduce the risk of accident, check the motorcycle carefully before mounting
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2. Wear your safety gear
About a decade ago before commercial motorcycle riding was banned in Nigeria, the government liaised with the FRSC and the police to ensure bike riders had helmets on. This is because the rate of fatal accidents involving motorcycles had spiked. With the head being the most delicate part of the outer body, it's only wise that it's protected.
Therefore, if you want to ride a motorcycle (even for the first time), it's advisable you wear one. Asides your helmet, you can also get shin guards, gloves and thick footwear.
3. Step onto the bike
This is the first major test that comes with riding a motorcycle for the first time. It can be intimidating, especially since you're used to seeing experts mount on theirs like its just a piece of cake. But for you, you might have to bend your body properly and hold the bike firmly so you both don't lose balance. Hold the left handle of the bike with your left hand and place your right hand at the rear to balance the bike and have it tilted towards you a little bit.
Once it's leaned towards you slightly, bend your left knee forward a little, place your right hand on the right handle of the motorcycle and throw your legs firmly across the bike - till you land in a sitting position on the bike. While doing this, still ensure your hands are on both handles of the motorcycle. Once seated, you can turn the front wheel, using the handles, to face the right. This helps you balance a bit more before turning on the engine.
You would feel safer riding a bike once your head gear and safety wears are on
Keep in mind that you need to throw your legs really high (especially if you aren't tall) so you can safely sit on the bike. Bikes usually have stands around the lower middle that helps it balance when not in use. You can mount the bike when the stands are firmly stuck to the ground, while you find some balance.
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4. Understand the functionalities
First of, the throttle and brakes. The throttle is a lever located just in front of the right handle, while the brake is positioned in front of the throttle - on the same right handle. If you have ridden a motorcycle as a rear passenger, you would notice how the hands of the riders move down when they accelerate more.
This happens when you pull the throttle. It causes the hand to turn towards you. But keep in mind that you need to only pull gently because a quick hard squeeze can have the bike's inertia throwing you off due to the sudden rev and speed.
This also applies to the brakes. Press the brakes too hard and the motorcycle will skid and crash. Smoothness in pulling goes a long way here. There's also a pedal brake close to your right foot. But you only worry about using it when you're on top speed on a power bike.
To the left, there's a clutch on the handle. Just as you step on the clutch of your manual car to change gears and boost engine performance, so does pulling the clutch lever on the bike engage its transmission. Squeezing the clutch for a few seconds disengages the transmission and the motorcycle would be on neutral gear. Once you let go, it engaged the engine again. The gear lever is close to your left foot. Moving the lever shifts the gear to neutral, gear one till five. Some bikes comes with a gear six.
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5. Time to ride
Just like driving a manual car, before you turn on the engine, shift the gear (with your left foot) to neutral. It would show "N" on the small gauge screen between the handles. This is because leaving it on gear 1 or above might have the motorcycle flying forward immediately you start it. So once it's on neutral gear, press the start button and the engine will come on - while the motorcycle is still stagnant. If the kick stand is still down, move the bike a bit forward so that it goes up, or kick the stands backwards so it retracts. This allows the motorcycle balance on both wheels only while you legs are on the floor for your own balance.
Once ready, squeeze the clutch a little with your left hand, put the transmission on gear one, slowly let go of the clutch while squeezing the throttle gently and the motorcycle moves forward. Place your feet on the feet rest and drive at a low speed to help you maintain balance. Just like driving a car, little input is need for maneuvering. Note that since its your first time learning how to ride a motorcycle, you won't ride on a straight line. Keep practicing and you'll become perfect overtime.