With spring marking the unofficial beginning of the new motorcycle riding season, most motorcycle riders just focus on getting their bikes ready to roll out of winter storage. Having a well running and maintained bike is crucial for any rider, but there is something else we should dust off and refresh…our riding skills! We won’t get far on our two wheeled machines if we don’t refresh our minds on how to do certain techniques. Drivers these days are more distracted than ever but practicing the skills listed below should help you stay sharp and on point.
WHERE TO PRACTICE
Before I get into what skills you should practice, I do want to mention where you should go to get this done. Any empty parking lot that you can find in your local area will work just fine. It would be even better if you can find one with visible painted lines just to help a bit with drills. Be sure to watch out for things like gravel, oil spills, puddles and pot holes before you start. These things can get in the way of a good practice session.
The friction zone is basically the sweet spot when you slightly release the clutch lever away from the handlebar to get just enough power in the rear wheel to get the bike moving slowly. Knowing your bikes friction zone helps with low speed maneuvers, not stalling at stops and helps you shift a lot smoother. If you’ve let your bike sit for winter storage or haven’t ridden for a while, its always a good idea to reacclimate yourself with this zone. Some quick steps to practice the friction zone are:
- Start The Bike While In Neutral
- Drop Into First Gear While Still Holding The Clutch In
- Slowly Release The Clutch To Get The Bike Moving At A Slow Speed
- Pull The Clutch Back In To Bring The Bike To A Stop
Repeating this will for sure get you familiar with your motorcycles friction zone.
After you’ve mastered the friction zone, the next skill to practice is braking. I know braking seems like a simple thing to do, but there are many different factors to consider. Many motorcycle accidents could have been easily avoided if riders where more skilled at braking. The types of braking you should practice are:
- Normal Braking In A Straight Line
- Quick Braking In A Straight Line
- Normal Braking In A Curve
- Quick Braking In A Curve
These normal and quick braking drills will keep you sharp in many situations. Knowing how your bike reacts to these will only do you good if you have to perform these will on the streets.
SLOW SPEED TURNING
Turning at slow speeds is something that can be a challenge for new and experienced riders alike. Mastering the friction zone will for sure help you do this well. When you get ready to practice slow speed turns, make sure that you give yourself more room than you did for the previous drills. The types of turns you want to practice are the following:
- Basic Right & Left Turns
- Sharp Turns From A Stop
- Figure Eights
Not knowing how to turn your bike at slow speeds can cause many issues at intersections, and this is where most accidents happen. Please make sure you can do these well before doing more serious riding.
While there are many other advanced skills we all can practice after being off the bike for a while, these the most basic but essential skills. I always try to ride all year round no matter the season, but even then, I do take some time every week to focus on sharpening my skills. The more you know and practice, the better you are prepared out there!