How is operating a motorcycle different than operating a car?

Many people love to ride a motorcycle because it is a full-sensory experience. That means, however, that riding requires different types of focus and concentration than those involved in driving a car. Motorcycles are two-wheeled vehicles, so they risk toppling over when they stop moving. Someone new to motorcycles must develop a new set of skills, including steering, braking and changing gears. Motorcyclists must also have heightened awareness of their surrounding environment. They feel free and at one with the road, but they are also more physically vulnerable.

Stay focused and aware at all times.

  • Steering. It is fairly easy to steer a motorcycle at low speeds. However, if a motorcycle is going faster than about five miles an hour, the rider must use a different kind of steering, referred to as counter-steering, which means using the handlebars to initiate a turn, and then executing the turn by leaning rather than steering.
  • Shifting. Knowing how to shift gears on a motorcycle is an essential skill. You must know how to use the clutch lever, gear shift lever, and the throttle. Practice is the key to mastering shifting. Find a safe place away from traffic and other obstacles. Practicing builds muscle memory, and your shifting will become more smooth.
  • Braking. Balance is central to a motorcycle’s dynamics, and that’s why most bikes have individual front and rear brake controls. The driver’s right hand controls the front brake, and the driver’s right foot controls the rear brake. Although the driver should use both at the same time, the front brake typically provides 70 to 90 percent of the braking force. Proper braking may keep your motorcycle under control and possibly save your life, so practice is essential to safe braking.