When you’re new to motorcycle riding, getting the basics right and staying away from trouble is enough to focus on. But the more you ride, the more you’ll become comfortable with that. Plus, the more you ride, the greater diversity of obstacles and riding situations you’ll find yourself in. Not only will you become ready to take on more advanced riding skills, you’ll also have more use for them.
Below, we outline some advanced riding skills for riders with a little bit more experience under their belts. As with all riding skills, perfection requires practice, so make sure you take time and learn these the correct way. Of course, this isn’t meant to replace any motorcycle rider certification or riding classes, and these tips should be thought of as concepts, not direct advice.
For all your motorcycle needs, stop by Thunder Tower Harley-Davidson® in Columbia, South Carolina. We’re near Charleston and we proudly serve the areas of Rock Hill, Myrtle Beach, and Greenville, South Carolina.
A swerve is a maneuver that involves two moves: steering away from an obstacle and then correcting your course back to the original path of travel. Unlike cornering, it’s less important that you throw your weight into swerves, and in some instances, this can actually hinder the speed with which you execute them. Instead, scan a route around the obstacle in the direction in which you want to swerve. Then push on the corresponding handlebar in order to cause the bike to lean towards that path. Push right to go right, left to go left. Keep yourself relatively upright so that you don’t have to move as much weight back to correct your course.
Sometimes, you can’t go around an obstacle and you just have to go over it. This is called “surmounting” and it’s commonplace when riders are faced with speed bumps, potholes, and road construction obstacles like metal plates. The basic trick here is to keep your arms and upper body straight and aligned with the path you want to travel. Stand up on your pegs and bend your knees a little bit to absorb some of the travel. Just before you reach the obstacle, roll the throttle a little to take some pressure off the front suspension. As soon as your front wheel is on or over the obstacle, let off the throttle to avoid turning your wheel on the obstacle.
Braking may not seem like an advanced skill, but braking correctly in different situations is. For straight line stops, keep your eyes upon the path ahead and keep your knees pressed into the gas tank to keep your body from moving too far forward. Apply the brakes with slight but increasing pressure. As you start to slow down, increase the front brake pressure as you slowly decrease the rear brake pressure.
If you’re braking to a stop on a corner, you’ll use a similar technique, but you’ll also have to use some core muscle strength to get out of your lean without overcompensating and letting the bike roll towards the outside of the turn.
Skids are incredibly dangerous and are the result of bad braking practice. Certain road conditions, such as wet or icy roads, or roads that are covered in mud, wet leaves, or oil, can make skids more likely. A skid is caused by a wheel locking up due to getting too much brake pressure relative to the amount of friction it can apply to the road. To correct this, let off the brakes until the wheel starts to turn again. It’s important to catch rear wheel skids early because if your bike starts to fishtail, letting off the brake can cause what’s known as a high-side crash, which is where the bike basically topples towards the direction it’s moving.
Here in South Carolina, lane splitting is prohibited by law. You may some riders doing it, but it’s illegal and can get you a ticket.
Hopefully, these concepts will be of some use to you in your riding practice. Make sure to practice everything at lower speeds to reduce the negative consequences of messing up. It’s much less dangerous to crash at 15 mph than at 50 mph!
If you need bike parts or maintenance, or if you’re in the market for a new bike altogether, stop by Thunder Tower Harley-Davidson®. We’re located in Columbia, South Carolina, and we proudly serve the areas of Rock Hill, Myrtle Beach, and Greenville, South Carolina.