how to learn how to ride a motorcycle by yourself

Last Updated on February 25, 2022

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how to learn how to ride a motorcycle by yourself

Can You Teach Yourself How to Ride a Motorcycle?

A frequent question that many beginners ask is whether they can learn to ride a motorcycle by themselves. This is a serious question that needs to be answered in a serious way.

After all, depending on where you live, you may not be required by law to pass any training courses, so does that mean you can actually learn to ride a motorcycle by yourself?

Can I teach myself to ride a motorcycle? You can teach yourself how to ride a motorcycle. In fact, a lot of motorcycle riders have learned to ride a motorcycle by themselves. However, even though people can learn to ride a motorcycle on their own, it is recommended to take motorcycle riding courses and get a teacher or mentor.

That being said, teaching yourself to ride a motorcycle, although perfectly doable, has certain advantages and disadvantages. In this article, you will find more information about everything you need to know about properly learning to ride a motorcycle by yourself.

A motorcycle rider sitting on a motorcycle by himself.

Are there people that taught themselves how to ride a motorcycle?

There are a lot of motorcycle riders that have taught themselves how to ride a motorcycle.

In fact, in the past, that was what the majority of people did—they had to learn on their own how to ride a motorcycle because they did not have any other alternatives.

A lot of riders, even today, are still doing it all by themselves.

In other words, learning how to ride a motorcycle on your own is not something unheard of or a rare occurrence. A lot of people do it, and if done properly, it can be very effective.

This brings us nicely to the next topic, which is about the proper way to teach yourself how to ride a motorcycle.

How can I learn to ride a motorcycle by myself?

A motorcycle rider taking a training course

Get your insurance and a learner’s permit, license, or endorsement

The best way to start is to take your motorcycle home in a trailer.

Beginner riders should get their learner’s permit; then they can start riding on public roads. Depending on where the rider lives and their age, they may be eligible to apply for a motorcycle license or endorsement.

In any case, a permit, license, or endorsement is required by law to ride a motorcycle.

Get yourself a beginner-friendly motorcycle and proper gear

Do your due diligence and make sure you get a proper beginner-friendly motorcycle. Usually, smaller motorcycles with lower cc are more suitable and forgiving—and a forgiving motorcycle is the best way to learn how to ride for beginners.

Make sure to wear the right motorcycle gear all the time—especially in the beginning when there is a higher chance of you falling and hurting yourself.

Start practicing

In order to learn how to ride a motorcycle, you need to put in the work. Practice. Practice as much as you can as often as you can.

The best way to go about this is to go to empty parking lots, quiet neighborhoods, and secluded and empty roads and just drive slowly to get used to how the motorcycle behaves. Find areas where you can practice riding your motorcycle in peace.

Slowly improve your skills

Eventually, as you get used to the motorcycle, you can start going around your neighborhood or block. Avoid riding your motorcycle on main roads and during peak hours.

Start slowly, take your time, and carefully expand and build up your riding courses. As time passes and your confidence and abilities increase, expand your traveling distance and routes.

Some riders will ride their motorcycle late at night. Around 2 am to 5 am is arguably the best time to go out with a motorcycle. The roads and parking lots will be empty. 

This is an excellent opportunity for beginning riders because they will not feel pressured by traffic or pedestrians. Since there will be no people to see if the rider makes any mistakes, this allows them to calm down and overcome the fear of failure while learning to ride a motorcycle. (See article: How to get over the fear of riding a motorcycle?)

However, keep in mind that in certain areas, it may not be legal to ride during the nighttime hours with a learner’s permit. Make sure to check your local regulations.

Read and watch training videos

Find as many materials and training videos that you can and never stop reading and learning. 

There are plenty of excellent books that deal with the intricate details of riding a motorcycle, too. Some free resources that you can use are the MSF basic ridercourse handbook and the Learn to ride smart by ICBC. (See article: Best motorcycle books for beginners)

There are also plenty more videos and movies that can do an excellent job of teaching you how to ride better. (Twist of the wrist 1 and 2 leap into mind.)

There is a lot of information online. Motorcycle websites like the one you are reading right now are also a neat way to learn more about how to ride a motorcycle and how motorcycles work.

Take motorcycle training classes

Even after you have successfully learned how to ride a motorcycle by yourself, the rider should consider taking the MSF course. 

Despite having already learned the basics of moving on two wheels, an MSF course can be more than helpful to expand and further develop the good practices and riding habits.

No matter what I say, I cannot do the MSF courses justice. They are almost mandatory in my experience, and even experienced riders are taking them occasionally. There are also MSF courses that teach advanced riding techniques. 

An MSF course will give you the necessary skills and knowledge to ride a motorcycle. At the same time, you will be in a controlled and safe environment. You will learn the safe riding techniques in addition to developing the right frame of mind and gaining confidence that you can do it. (See article: Is an MSF course worth it?)

A motorcycle training class is also recommended if your immediate surroundings require more technical riding than your current capabilities.

And even if the courses currently available to you are all filled, you can either wait for the next course to start or just show up. Sometimes there may be waiting lists, but that is often not the case, and quite frequently, there are no shows, so in the majority of cases, they may be able to fit you in if you just call to check.

How long does it take to learn to ride a motorcycle by yourself?

How long it will take you to learn to ride a motorcycle by yourself will vary greatly depending on the rider, their skills, practice frequency, and approach.

Some people might need a few days while others will need at least several months to learn how to ride a motorcycle on their own.

That being said, it is important not to rush it. You cannot expect to get good at riding a motorcycle in just a few weeks. Take your time and act accordingly. Many of the intricate controls and riding techniques take a lot of time to learn and master.

You have to learn a lot of different things like, but not limited to:

  • The basic controls.
  • Safety handling and steering at various speeds.
  • Clutch control.
  • Push steering.
  • Situational awareness.
  • Proper acceleration.
  • Front and rear braking.
  • Emergency stopping and swerving.
  • Proper turning techniques.
  • Motorcycle inspection, maintenance, and care.

An MSF course will speed up your learning greatly.

It is important to note that with riding a motorcycle, you never stop learning. This is a process that will last for as long as you are riding your motorcycle.

Even riders that have more than 40 years of experience under their belt will tell you that they are still learning. (See article: How long does it take to get good at riding a motorcycle?)

Is it easy to learn how to ride a motorcycle on your own?

Learning to ride a motorcycle by yourself is not necessarily hard, but it is not easier compared to taking a motorcycle safety course.

While learning on your own, you will have to find and go through plenty of materials and information in order to find the best safety instructions. You will also have to watch multiple videos.

One of the problems learning by yourself is that you may not always be able to tell the difference between good and bad instructions and lessons. You will also not have the ability to ask questions and receive feedback in real-time. 

You will not be able to tell if you are using good form while riding and if you are riding in a proper and safe manner.

All of these setbacks are going to make learning on your own a little harder and more tricky.

You will have to be a lot more diligent and unbiased in your learning, which may be hard to do.

Are you more likely to get into an accident if you learn how to ride a motorcycle by yourself?

According to the statistics, riders who have taken motorcycle training and safety courses have a lower chance of getting into accidents. However, the difference is usually not significant in the statistical sense.

In other words, just because somebody is self-taught does not automatically mean they will get into a lot more accidents than somebody who’s gone through all the training courses they could find.

According to the data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, out of all the examined motorcycle crashes.

  • 6% were done by self-taught riders
  • 6% were taught by family and friends
  • 5% had passed high-performance and competitive track courses.
  • 8% had taken an experienced rider course
  • 50% were riders that have taken a state-recognized entry-level course
  • 24% had not passed any motorcycle training.

As you can see, being self-taught definitely does not put motorcycle riders at higher odds of crashing.

Should you teach yourself how to ride a motorcycle?

Just because somebody has taken and passed classes does not mean they will become a good rider. Likewise, just because somebody has learned how to ride a motorcycle by themselves does not mean they will become bad riders.

There are plenty of great riders that have learned everything by themselves. 

In fact, there are people that have learned how to ride a motorcycle even though they cannot ride a bicycle. So one should never underestimate their abilities. (See article: Can you ride a motorcycle if you can’t ride a bicycle?)

That being said, the disadvantage of learning how to ride a motorcycle by yourself is that you may not be able to discern between good and bad riding habits and form.

Thus you can easily learn to ride with bad form and further embed it over time. An old and established habit is hard to break, and in this case, it can also be extremely dangerous to one’s well being.

Even though knowing how to drive a manual transmission car will help, there are a lot of subtle differences in riding a motorcycle. You may easily overlook these or not be aware of them, which could affect your ability to ride a motorcycle in a safe manner.

how to ride a bike step by step with pictures

How to Ride a Motorcycle for Beginners

Introduction: How to Ride a Motorcycle for Beginners

How to Ride a Motorcycle for Beginners

If you are reading these instructions, chances are you want to get into the world of riding a motorcycle. Riding a motorcycle is not as difficult as people think.

DANGER: Riding is a very dangerous activity, so keep that in mind every time you ride and ride within your limits.
WARNING: Beginners should not underestimate the risks of riding! Always wear helmets, gloves, jackets and boots. You should practice on an empty parking lot before get on public roads.

If there are so many risks, why do people still ride? Because riding is fun! The sense of freedom it gives you is just amazing! It’s like the saying, four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul.

These instructions aim to teach the basics of riding a motorcycle for beginners. As long as you follow the steps, these instructions can prepare you to get your license and start riding.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload

Step 1: Get Familiar With the Controls: Primary Controls

Get Familiar With the Controls: Primary Controls
Get Familiar With the Controls: Primary Controls
Get Familiar With the Controls: Primary Controls

3 More Images

So let’s get started. First of all, you should get familiar with the controls on a motorcycle.

There are five primary controls on motorcycles. In this Instructable, I will be demonstrating on a 2012 Honda CBR 250R, but the controls are universal for most bikes.

The throttle is used to control the engine speed and is located on the right hand side of the handlebar. It is just like the gas pedal in a car. When you roll on the throttle, the engine speed will rise and the speed will go up. When you roll off the throttle, the engine speed will fall and the bike will slow down. You can refer to the pictures on top of the page to see the roll on and roll off position.

Note: Motorcycles have separated front and rear brakes.

The front brake lever is used to activate the front brake and is located on the right hand side of the handlebar in front of the throttle. You can squeeze the lever to use the front brake.

WARNING: Similar to braking in a car, do not grab the front brake lever suddenly and tightly. The correct way of using the brake lever is to squeeze it slowly and gradually increase the force.

The rear brake lever is used to activate the rear brake of the bike and is located near the right foot position in front of the right side foot peg. Use your right foot to press on the lever to use the rear brake.

The clutch lever is used to operate the clutch and is on the left side of the handlebar. The clutch lever acts like the clutch pedal in a manual transmission car as a connection between engine power and rear wheel. Fully squeeze in the clutch lever to cut off power to the rear wheel. The clutch on motorcycles is sequential, meaning that you can’t skip gears. The use of the clutch lever is very critical to control the bike.

DANGER: When encountering a situation where you are losing control, immediately pull in the clutch and use brakes.

Caution: Similar to driving a manual car, when shifting between lower gears, you should release the clutch slowly.

The shift lever is used for shifting and is on the left foot position in front of the left side foot peg. Press up firmly for upshift, and press down firmly for downshift.

Note: The shift pattern on motorcycles is 1 down and 5 up. The gear order from down to up is 1-neutral-2-3-4-5-6, as shown in the shift pattern pictures.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload

Step 2: Get Familiar With the Controls: Other Controls

Get Familiar With the Controls: Other Controls
Get Familiar With the Controls: Other Controls
Get Familiar With the Controls: Other Controls

Other controls on motorcycles includes dash, mirrors, turn signal switch, high/low beam switches, horn, kill switch and starter button.

The dash usually consists of the speedometer, the tachometer and the neutral indicator. The speedometer shows the current speed of the bike in miles per hour. The tachometer shows the current engine speed represented in RPM (revolutions per minute). The neutral indicator will light on when the bike is in neutral. Note: Like in cars, when in neutral, the bike will be able to roll forward and backward.

The mirrors help you see what is behind you. The mirrors on motorcycles are convex mirrors, so the object in mirror are closer than they appear.

WARNING: You will also have blind spots on motorcycles just like in cars, so please check the mirrors and do a shoulder check whenever you need to turn or change lanes.

The turn signals indicate turning or changing lanes. Press the turn switch to the left will flash the left turn signal, press to the right will flash the right turn signal and press it inwards will cancel the turn signal. The high/low beam light switch toggles high beam and low beam lights.

Note: On motorcycles the headlights are always on as daytime running lights.

Caution: It is not recommended to use the high beam during the night, because the light can blind other drivers and cause danger.

The kill switch is used to shut off the engine and is the red button located on the right hand side of the handlebar.

Caution: Some people prefer to use the key to turn off the bike, but you should have the habit of using the kill switch, because in an emergency situation, use the kill switch is a faster and more effective way to kill the power.

The starter button is used to start the bike, and is located under the kill switch.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload

Step 3: Start the Bike

Start the Bike

Now that you are familiar with the controls, it is time to start the bike. First turn the key to ON position and you should see the dash lights up. Then find the neutral gear between the first and second gear. Pull the clutch in, use left foot to push the shift lever all the way down, then push it slightly up, and you should see the green “N” lights up in the dash, which means the bike is now in neutral.

WARNING: Do not start the bike in gear.

The bike is now ready for starting. Simply turn the kill switch to ON position, then press the starter button until you hear the engine sound, meaning that the bike is started. You will also see the tachometer rises to the idle speed.

Caution: Do not press the starter button for too long, release it as soon as your hear the engine sound.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload

Step 4: Practice With Clutch

This section will help you get familiar with clutch operation and friction zone. First pull the clutch lever in, then use your left foot to shift down to first gear, and then slowly release the clutch lever, and at the same time gradually roll on the throttle. Now the bike should start moving and you can release the clutch all the way and give a little more throttle. You may stall the bike during this process and it’s very common for beginners to stall. There’s no need to panic. Simply find the neutral gear, and then start the bike, and repeat the steps above to get the bike going.

Caution: Once the bike exceeds the walking speed, you should put your feet on the foot pegs. Dragging your feet down can cause potential danger.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload

Step 5: Upshift and Downshift

Upshift and Downshift

After practicing starting and riding in first gear, we will now move on to upshift and downshift.

Note: First gear is usually used for starting the bike and slow speed maneuvering.

To upshift, first roll off the throttle, then pull the clutch lever in and use your left foot to firmly press the shifter lever up, and you should feel that the gear is clicked in. Now you can slowly release the clutch and roll on the throttle simultaneously to finish the upshift.

For downshift, the steps are similar. The only difference is that you will need to press down on the shifter lever instead of pressing up. Other steps are the same.

Warning: Do not downshift to first gear unless for coming to a complete stop.

I’ve attached a suggested shift point diagram from a motorcycle manufacturer, and beginners can refer to that when you start riding. After you get a feeling of shifting, you can simply decide when to shift by yourselves.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload

Step 6: Braking to a Stop

When coming to a stop sign or red light, you will need to brake to a stop. If you want to slow down and stop, simply roll off the throttle and pull the clutch lever in, then gradually squeeze the front brake lever and press the rear brake lever simultaneously.

Note: Ideally, your stopping force should consist of 70% front brake and 30% rear brake, so adjust your force on the levers accordingly.

Caution: your left foot should touch the ground first so that you can still use rear brake if needed.

Some people say that there is no need to use the rear brake, but I would definitely argue that it’s wrong. Your braking power consists of both the front and rear brake. If you don’t have the habit of using your rear brake, in an emergency situation, you may grab the front brake and crash.

How to Start Riding a Motorcycle By Yourself

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