Top 6 Facts You Should Know About Your New Motorcycle

Often experienced motorcycle riders who trade in an old bike for a brand new set of wheels find that they fall prey to an unfortunate set of statistics that occur along with new machines--more motorcycle accidents happen on new equipment than on old faithful rides. Don't assume that 100,000 miles on your old bike means equally capable handling of your new set of wheels. Instead, take the time to learn some facts about your new motorcycle.

Low Speed Handling

If possible, find a deserted level parking lot that has a relatively clean surface. You don't need bumps, slippery stuff, inclines, potholes or other defects or obstacles in order to learn more about your new motorcycle. You need to plan on spending time having fun and getting to know the quirks of the new wheels. Start by doing low speed circles with your eyes on the horizon and practice until you can do a 360 without putting your foot down and with the steering in full lock. This may require some adjustment in the position of the handlebar or the throttle cable in order to smooth the acceleration action. Follow tight circles with tight figure eights, again without touching your feet to the ground until the bike has come to a full stop. Force yourself to be consistent and precise. This will provide even more understanding of the throttle response in your new motorcycle.


Repeat the previous exercise at higher speeds--both the circles and the figure eights. Keep your eyes on the horizon and your feet off the ground so you learn the feel of the equipment as it corners correctly and consistently. Varying the speed of the engine while you practice these maneuvers will allow you to ride comfortably at highway speeds as well as in city traffic.


Follow this with learning about the bike's cornering limits. Learn to accept the grinding noise without flinching when a floorboard scrapes the pavement. A reflex jerk to avoid the sound of metal on pavement can cause you to steer right off the curve. If you feel more cornering ability is needed, you may need to change the suspension components.

Calling a halt

Practice stopping at low speed with a hard stop in order to learn the traction on the new tires, the sensitivity of the brakes and how the bike handles with the rear wheel locked. You need to know precisely what to expect in a real life panic situation and the best way to do that is to practice a hard, locked wheel stop especially in a sideways skid. Once you've practiced the rear action, learn about the power of the front brake. Be careful not to overdue front brake activity until you have a clear understanding of how much pressure the crucial front brake will take. Again, you may need to do some adjustments to the brake controls engagement points or positions to better suit your riding and stopping style.
Road Work

Now is the time to move your practice skills to the open road. Try to pick a relatively lightly traveled section or road that has some open corners so that you can practice cornering at highway speeds. Continuing to practice leaning techniques will help you to know the limits of the bike in every situation. Use a straight road with painted dotted lines and practice swerving the bike between the gaps on the road. If you can find safe stretches with raised dots for lane markers, you will be able feel immediately if you miss the swerve. Once again, in a safe mode, practice your hard stops at highway speeds. Be aware of following traffic before hitting the brakes suddenly and be sure to allow plenty of room in case you overrun your target point.

Double Up

Each of the exercises above should be repeated while carrying a passenger. Even if you do not carry anyone else regularly, knowing how your bike responds with a passenger is critical in any emergency situation--even in every day riding. Your motorcycle will respond differently, and you should know what will happen before getting on the open road. It's important that your passenger understand what is going to happen so that they don't panic and throw the motorcycle off balance, thereby causing a serious accident.

Another advantage of going through these exercises in low or moderate speed and varying the load on the engine is that they serve as a good break-in regimen for the engine.

Now that you have your new motorcycle and have practiced the various maneuvers above, you will want to remember that in adverse weather or road conditions, the new motorcycle may not handle the same as did your old set of wheels. Take things really easy the first few times you ride in the rain or in icy situations. If you have the opportunity to practice in different weather experiences, you will have an even better feel for your motorcycle's handling capabilities.

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