Motorcycle riding tricks do not need to be implemented into your ride simply to wow and amaze. Discover the top 10 motorcycle tips and tricks that you may not know about that will make you ride smoother, safe and in some cases, faster. These tips and tricks work on any bike, any time—regardless of whether you are tearing up a mountain road, cruising or heading out around the world.
Drag Your Back Brake in Traffic for Better Balance
One of the hardest things you may find yourself dealing with if you drive a motorcycle is picking your way through low speed traffic. It can be difficult to manage a heavy, unwieldy motorcycle while, at the same time, watching out for drivers and determining whether or not your bars will fit between the mirrors of other vehicles. All of these aspects together require complete attention, good hand-eye coordination, a strong sense of situational awareness and, at times, an exceedingly good sense of balance.
While this trick cannot solve all of the above for you, it can help make threading through cars less like walking a tightrope. How? Drag a little back brake. By doing so, some of the out power delivery will be smoothed out and you will be better prepped for any emergency stops that you may need to make. By pushing the front end down as you accelerate, you will ease the bounciness that can occur as you move between acceleration and deceleration. The act can also aid in lateral balance, perhaps due to the fact that you need only focus on side-to-side movements without the forward and backward heaves.
If attempting this trick, do not stomp on the brake lever and hold it there. Instead, graze it with your toe and keep a minimal amount of pressure applied to the lever. There should only be enough pressure to provide a little friction, just enough so that you will not coast if you were to pull on the clutch of your motorcycle.
Blip the Throttle to Make Downshifts Smoother
This next trick takes a bit of practice to get right, because it is also about the timing and the feel. When braking, grab a lower gear and let the clutch out quickly. Revs will temporarily spike as the engine struggles to catch up to your rear tire’s speed. However, if you downshift too quickly, you will lock up the rear tire due to engine compression. This phenomenon limits how quickly you can come into a corner, since you need to manage decreased rear wheel traction as you begin your turn. The solution to this common problem? Rev matching. If you blip revs to match the rear wheel speed, your engine will not need to catch up suddenly.
For this trick, you should be braking with two finger while using the others to quickly blip the throttle after you have pulled in the clutch and downshift. This will spike revs to where you think they’ll be in the lowest gear. If you get the timing right, you can just let that clutch spring back out to seamlessly engage with the lower gear. If you are doing it right, you should be able to maintain a consistent brake force while blipping.
Not only do you need to practice timing, but also the right amount of throttle to apply and the right revs to reach. Once you have mastered this trick, you will find your reward a smoother ride, especially when you are flying around corners.
Trail Brake for Faster and Safer Cornering
This is one of the tricks that can make you go both faster and safer around corners. When applying a motorcycle’s front brake, you will slow down. However, in doing so, compression will be applied to the front suspension and weight will shift onto the front tire, expanding the tire’s contact patch and increasing its grip. This applies a dual effect that can make the motorcycle steer quicker and make it so that you can push the front end of the bike harder. Together, this can only add miles per hour.
If you are interested in performing this trick, it is extremely important that you learn how to do this in the safe environment of the race track. There should not be any other cars around and it is important to ensure that there is good vision and that, were you to fall down, it would not kill you.
When starting out, brake a little later into a corner so that you’ll still be on the brakes a little as you begin to turn. Bake a little later the next time and a little later the time after that. After enough practice, you will get to the point where you can hit the apex at a pace, just as you let go of the last bit of front brake and begin to apply a little throttle. This trick will not have you coasting. Instead, you will swap brake for throttle at the apex.
Later breaking provides you with more time that can be spent accelerating on the straights, which in turn will provide you with faster lap times. Performing this trick also provide additional safety. How? Well, the front suspension of your bike will already be compressed, the front tire will already have a maximum contact patch and you will be able to use your brake lever to tighten or widen your line, without disturbing your bike. Therefore, trail braking will allow you to avoid obstacles in a safe, fluid and smooth manner.
When performing this trick, it is also important to be aware of the grip that your bike’s tire has available. Both leaning and braking will require grip from the same source. If you are leaning more, you will find that you are able to brake less and vice versa. As you near the maximum amount that you can lean, you will find that you have neared the maximum grip. As you find yourself nearing max brake, you will also be nearing maximum grip. Should you accidently cross the two, you will likely find yourself laying on the ground with your bike cartwheeling some distance away.
Is this corner tightening or opening up?
If you find yourself in a blind corner and you are unsure as to whether or not you can start getting on the throttle, this trick will likely benefit you. In the absence of any other visual reference, you can look at the horizon point where the two sides of the road appear to meet. If that point is holding a steady distance from you, that meets that the corner is continuing its constant radius. However, if the point is moving towards you, the corner is beginning to tighten. If the point is moving away from you, the corner is starting to open up and you can begin to accelerate.
Forget the Clutch for Upshifts
You may or may not already know this trick. While it is a bit more common, there are plenty of drivers who do not know how to perform this trick. Like many other tricks, this one works on any bike. The benefit of the trick? You will get smoother, faster shifts with slightly less clutch wear.
This trick is very easy to perform and will require little practice. As you accelerate and you are approaching a point where you would want to shift up, sneak your toe beneath the lever instead and apply a little upward pressure. After you have done this, you must quickly close the throttle a little while keeping that pressure on the shift lever. You should feel the gear slip home and then open it back up.
While it does take a bit of practice to perform this trick smoothly, it is an easy trick to master in comparison to some of the other tricks you will find on this list. However, a word of caution. This trick does not work very well if you are cruising along at a constant speed or decelerating.
Steer Left to Go Right
Counter steering is a commonly misunderstood practice, however, it is still one of the most commonly practice riding skills. Chances are that if you ride a bike or motorcycle, you probably already do it.
Sound counterintuitive? Just give it a try. Get on your bike and sit with both of your legs firmly on the ground. Turn your bars to the left. Your bike would want to fall to the right, yes? Watch the front wheel. You are creating a point, with it on one side and the bike’s main body on the other. The bike will want to fall towards that point.
When driving your bike out on the road, you are already doing this, be it subconsciously. If you consciously practice it, you can enhance the amount of control that you have over your motorcycle and the speed at which you are able to turn.
It is recommended that you practice this in an empty parking lot rather than the open road. Ride along at about 25 miles per hour and give the bar on the inside of the direction you want to turn a small nudge. You will turn. Now try it again, but nudge it harder. Once you have gotten the hang of counter steering, try it out on the road and start incorporating that into your riding. As stated previously, this trick works on a bicycle too, so if you are more comfortable in doing so, you can try it there first.
Look Where You Want to Go
Want to learn a very simple trick that could save your life someday? If you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation, such as a tight corner that has caught you out, a car that is veering into your lane or there is an obstacle in the road—rather than panic, look at the gap and where you want to be. The spot on the track that you want to reach. Your body and your bike will follow. Consciously think about this and, if necessary, force yourself to do it. It works, and by putting in the effort to practice, it may just save your life.
Save Your Balls, Use Your Knees
For better control when riding (and, as a bonus, a better way to avoid crushed testicles), it is recommended that you keep your weight off your hands while you ride. However, it can be hard to do this when braking heavily. Try this trick the next time you find yourself braking hard. Grip the tank of the bike firmly between your knees and relax your upper body. To maximize the benefits of this trick, consider Stomp Grip or a similar product as these products will give your legs a better grip on the tank, which can be a big help in this trick.
Your front brake is the most powerful mechanical component of your motorcycle. The front brake is capable of altering your bike’s velocity far faster than the engine. This tool is even found in a variety of cars, including expensive performance cars. While mastering a motorcycle’s brakes can take years of experience, there are a few tips and tricks that can provide you with a shortcut to its mastery, such as:
- Only use your index and middle fingers to brake while keeping the other fingers wrapped around the throttle.
- Should you ever need to brake in a hurry, rest those two fingers on the lever, ready to go. This technique is referred to as covering the brake and it can help you actuate it smoothly and hasten your response times.
- You can load the front tire to increase grip. By maximizing your front tire’s grip, you can maximize your possible braking ability. Any time that you need to start braking, even in an emergency, start by gently pulling in the lever, compressing the front suspension and pushing the front tire into the ground. After your front tire has had the chance to compress and spread out should you begin to apply full braking force.
- You should progressively squeeze harder and harder until you achieve your desired level of deceleration. Once you feel your rear wheel starting to come off of the ground and you have felt the front tire begin to lose traction, this is the point where you have reached the maximum possible amount of braking for those conditions.
The Best Performance Upgrade
While there are a number of upgrades and modifications that you can make to your motorcycle, fancy tires, new paint jobs and flashy chrome will not make you safe or faster by any means. Instead, the best type of performance upgrade that you can spend your time and money on is in putting miles under your wheels. By reviewing these tips and tricks, as well as professional techniques that can be found in a copy of Twist of the Wrist or Sport Riding Techniques, you can pick up and practice additional skills until you are an expert.