Motorcycles are considered fun vehicles that allow you to enjoy an open road. However, it is essential that you learn to drive them in a controlled and safe way. You can take a motorcycle safety course and get a driver's permit or license if needed in your area. Before you start, you should buy safety equipment and learn how to drive the vehicle. With a little time and practice, you will be ready to ride your motorcycle.
Part 1 of 4: Get a license and register the motorcycle
Step 1. Enroll in a motorcycle safety course
Search online for a course near your area so you can learn the basics of motorcycle operation and control. These courses typically offer classroom safety classes and practical driving classes. If you are not comfortable riding a motorcycle, these courses are a great starting point.
- Some classes have motorcycles that you can ride if you don't have your own.
- Check the classes for a license if you need one in your area. These classes tend to last a few days longer than an unlicensed class, but you will receive the proper permits once you finish.
- Motorcycle laws vary depending on where you live. Check with your local department of motor vehicles to determine the prerequisites for obtaining a license. In the United States, most places require you to be between the ages of 15 and 16 before you can get a license. Otherwise, you will need the supervision of a licensed instructor.
Step 2. Take the written and visual exam if necessary
Set aside a date that works best for you. The written test will address the basics and rules of the road, while the visual will determine if you can drive safely without a prescription. You must first pass the written exam before taking the visual.
- Written and practical exams are necessary for you to get your license.
- The written test questions include information about motorcycle safety, riding techniques, and operation. You must familiarize yourself with the operation of the motorcycle and the laws of your area to ride it. Read a copy of your local motorcycle manual to familiarize yourself with safety tips, laws, and regulations.
- You can look for practice tests on the department of motor vehicle website before the written test.
Step 3. Pass the practical exam to get your license
You must schedule the exam in the department of motor vehicles. The evaluator will observe you as you drive to make sure you are following the rules of the road. You should be aware of all the safety precautions you learned before completing the exam. Once you pass the exam, you can pay the registration fee to get your license.
- The road test includes identifying where the motorcycle's controls are located, as well as driving slowly in a circle and serpentine pattern. Be sure to practice these techniques on your own before taking the exam.
- During the exam, you must be aware of your surroundings and always drive below the speed limit.
- Depending on your location, you can do this in the department of motor vehicles or under the supervision of a certified third-party evaluator.
- In the United States, you must get an instruction permit for 12 months if you are under 16 years of age to be licensed.
Step 4. Register the motorcycle
Visit your local department of motor vehicles. You must obtain the title of the motorcycle, in addition to making the required payment. Check online for any other details you need when registering your vehicle.
- Registration may differ in your area if you purchased the motorcycle from a dealer or private seller. You can check local regulations online.
- Make sure you have updated license plate labels if needed in your area.
Step 5. Get motorcycle insurance
You must have insurance so that you can drive legally in some areas. Check local regulations to see if you need insurance. If so, you should check with your current insurance provider to see if they have a motorcycle option or package.
Step 6. Check the vehicle to make sure it is in good condition
Check the air pressure in your tires with a pressure gauge and inflate them more if the level is low. Look at the oil and brake fluid levels to make sure they are correct. Kneel on the ground to inspect the brake pads and chains and make sure they are not worn or rusted. If something looks wrong on the motorcycle, don't get on it.
Turn on the lights and signals to make sure none of the bulbs have burned out
Part 2 of 4: Wear the Right Gear
Step 1. Buy yourself a helmet
Head injuries are the leading cause of serious or fatal accidents in motorcyclists. Wearing a helmet can greatly reduce the risk of injury. Look for a full coverage helmet that has a visor that does not limit your vision so you can be aware of your surroundings. Make sure the chinstrap fits snugly around your head so that the helmet remains secure.
- Look for a label or decal from the transport department or the European commission to check if the helmet meets the legal requirements for safe driving.
- Avoid wearing helmets with tinted visors, as they reduce visibility when driving at night.
- Helmets generally have ventilation systems to keep your head cool in hot weather.
- Not all locations require the use of a helmet for driving. You should check your local laws to find out this detail.
Step 2. Get a fitted jacket made of a sturdy material
Jackets made of tough leather or synthetic materials work best for added protection. Look for jackets with a light individual protection vest over the shoulders and elbows so that you suffer fewer injuries if you have an accident.
Look for a jacket that has reflectors built into the fabric so other vehicles can see you better. If you can't find a jacket with these characteristics, you can use reflective tape on the front, back and arms of the jacket
Step 3. Wear long pants to protect your legs
In the event of a fall, pants will protect the full length of your legs more than shorts. Buy a thicker material (like denim) for better protection while riding the motorcycle.
Wear leather chaps over your pants for an extra layer of protection
Step 4. Wear boots and gloves
You can get low-heeled boots to avoid snagging on rough surfaces. Make sure the gloves cover all of your fingers and the boots are above the ankles. Look for a non-slip material that is strong (like leather) and makes it easy to hold the motorcycle in all weather conditions.
- Tuck the laces inside the boot to prevent them from dangling or getting caught in anything.
- Gloves not only protect your hands while driving or during an accident, but they also help prevent your skin from drying out.
Part 3 of 4: Learn to Use the Motorcycle Controls
Step 1. Position the throttle on the right hand grip of the motorcycle
Find the throttle on the right hand grip of the motorcycle. The throttle is used to control speed. To accelerate and activate the engine, turn the throttle towards you.
Make sure the throttle snaps back into place when you twist and release it. If not, you should have a mechanic check it out before you get on the vehicle
Step 2. Find the brakes above the right hand grip and near the right footrest
Locate the front wheel brake by the handle just above the throttle. You are going to use the front brake more often. While sitting on the motorcycle, reach for the rear wheel brake with your right foot. Then press the lever to activate the brake.
- Most of the brake power comes from the front tire.
- If you don't detect a lever near your right foot as a rear wheel brake, you should consult your motorcycle's owner's manual to find out where the specific controls are located.
Step 3. Familiarize yourself with the clutch and gear lever
Most motorcycles have manual transmissions and should be shifted up or down as you accelerate and decelerate. Find the clutch on the left handlebar. This will look like the handle that controls the brakes. Find the gear stick in front of your left foot and control it up and down.
- Keep the vehicle in neutral with the kickstand down when not in use. The neutral point is usually between 1st and 2nd gear.
- Many motorcycles operate on a “1 down 5 up” shift pattern. From low to high, gear changes are generally 1st gear, neutral, 2nd gear, 3rd gear, 4th gear, 5th gear, and 6th gear.
Part 4 of 4: Practice Driving Skills
Step 1. Get on the motorcycle
Approach the motorcycle from the left side and hold the left handlebar for support. Put your leg over the seat and make sure you don't hit your foot with the tail of the motorcycle. Place both feet flat on the floor and get comfortable on the seat. Once your feet are planted, you can raise the back of the kickstand.
Make sure the kickstand is raised before you start driving
Step 2. Start the engine and let it run for about 1 minute
Turn the key in the ignition slot and turn the red switch on the right handlebar to the "on" or "run" position. Make sure the motorcycle is in neutral before starting the engine. Hold the clutch before pressing the power button, which is usually located under the red switch and is marked with a lightning bolt. Let the engine run to warm up and run properly when riding the motorcycle.
- You should always watch the gauge on the dash of the motorcycle to make sure it is in neutral. Otherwise, you should adjust the shift lever while keeping the clutch in the neutral position.
- Hold the clutch while starting the motorcycle to prevent it from rolling forward if it is not in neutral.
- If you have a bike with a kickstarter, this mechanism is located behind your right foot. Press down firmly to crank the motor.
Step 3. Keep your headlights on and use your turn signals
Locate the controls for the headlights and turn signals (usually located on the left handlebar). You should use these items whenever you drive on busy roads so other drivers can see you.
If the motorcycle does not have turn signals, you should signal with your hands. Extend your left hand so that it is parallel to the ground (palm down) to indicate that you are turning to the left. Bend your left elbow so that your forearm is at 90 degrees to your biceps (which should be parallel to the ground) and make a fist to indicate that you are turning to the right. You should start pointing 100 ft (30 m) before turning and return both hands to the handlebars when executing the turn
Step 4. Shift into first gear and go slowly with the motorcycle
Position your left foot so that your heel is on the footrest and your toes are near the lever. Hold down the clutch and shift into first gear by pressing down on the gear lever with your left foot. The motorcycle will begin to move on its own without activating the throttle as you slowly release the clutch. Practice keeping your balance while going at low speed. Keep your hand on the brake in case you start to lose control.
- You should practice in an isolated section of the road or a parking lot with little traffic so you don't have to worry about other drivers.
- Releasing the clutch too quickly can cause the engine to stall. If this happens, shift back to neutral and start the engine again.
- Practice "brisk walking." Walk forward while slowly releasing the clutch to accelerate. Work your way until you feel comfortable keeping your feet on the footrests while the motorcycle is in motion.
Step 5. Squeeze the clutch and shift gears with your left foot
When you feel comfortable going faster, turn the throttle slightly toward your body while releasing the clutch to accelerate. Once you go 8 km / h (5 mph), you should release the throttle, squeeze the clutch, and pull the shift lever past the neutral position in second gear. Once you have shifted the motorcycle, you should release the clutch and accelerate again.
- As you increase your speed, you need to shift to higher speeds. As you slow down, you should shift into a lower gear. Make sure to release the throttle by squeezing the clutch while shifting.
- Once you shift into second gear, you won't have to shift into first gear until you come to a complete stop.
Step 6. Push the handlebar on the opposite side forward to turn
You should look in the direction you are going to turn rather than forward. Release the accelerator to slow down as your turn to turn approaches. To turn left, you must bring the left handlebar towards you and push the right handlebar forward. To turn right, you must bring the right handlebar towards you and push the left handlebar forward.
- For quicker turns, you can practice backing the motorcycle. When turning, you should lean slightly in the direction you want to go while pushing the handlebars away from you to keep yourself balanced.
- Turning too sharply could cause an accident.
Step 7. Practice slowing to a stop
As you release the accelerator, you should slowly pull in the clutch and squeeze the front brake to slow down. Put your foot on the rear brake and press lightly to slow down. Once you stop, you should place your left foot on the ground and keep your right foot on the rear brake.
- Once you are done riding, you should shift the motorcycle to neutral once you stop.
- Avoid squeezing the front brake hard. Otherwise, you could cause the tires to lock up, skid, or cause an accident.
Step 8. Find busier roads
Once you are familiar with the basics of riding and control the motorcycle, you should look for roads with little amount of traffic. You must take into account the environment and other drivers while riding the motorcycle.
Check with your local department of motor vehicles to see if you need a permit or special license before riding a motorcycle
- You must practice under the supervision of an expert motorcycle rider to stay safe.
- Always be aware of the location of other motorcyclists along the road.
- Avoid potholes, gravel, and dangerous road conditions. Although cars are often easy to handle, they are extremely dangerous for motorcyclists.
- You should wear full safety gear (including a helmet, jacket, long pants, gloves, and boots) to protect yourself in case you fall off the motorcycle.
- Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist maneuvers between rows of stopped cars. However, this practice is likely to be illegal in your area. You should check your local laws to see if you can use this technique.