Vi­tal ad­vice for new rid­ers

Got a new rider in your midst? Give them a help­ing hand with MCN’S pearls of wis­dom

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

1 Tyres re­ally are im­por­tant

Bikes are nat­u­rally un­sta­ble, and the pri­mary things keep­ing them up­right are two small patches of rub­ber. Check tyre pres­sures, wear pat­terns and tread depth at least once a week. Ne­glect them and wear/per­for­mance suf­fers. Buy tyres ap­pro­pri­ate to your bike, rid­ing style and weather con­di­tions, and don’t just look for the cheap­est op­tion. Get the best qual­ity and most up-to-date tyre de­sign you can.

2 Be good to your oil 2

Check your oil reg­u­larly – ev­ery 500 miles. A 125 with a one-litre ca­pac­ity can burn it all in 1000 miles if used hard, and older, higher-mileage bikes tend to con­sume more. Al­ways have a sup­ply of the same brand or grade of oil to hand for top-ups, and con­sult a man­ual on how to check the oil cor­rectly. But also be good to it on start up – bikes are more highly strung than cars, so they ap­pre­ci­ate a bit of warm-up time.

3 Earplugs are a must

Too many rid­ers don’t wear earplugs on the bike. Any­thing more than slow town speeds is enough to af­fect hear­ing – wind noise at­tacks hear­ing over time, but a sim­ple pair of foam ear plugs will dras­ti­cally re­duce hear­ing dam­age. Comfort is not an ex­cuse – buy sev­eral kinds and pick the best. You soon get used to them and af­ter a while you’ll feel naked with­out them.

4 Drive chains are vul­ner­a­ble

Fi­nal drive chains and sprock­ets have a gru­elling job, yet all they ask is to be cleaned and lubed. Ev­ery 500 miles is a good time to clean off old lube (a good de­greaser, tooth­brush and a rag will do the job), then lube from the in­side run, be­ing care­ful not to over-ap­ply. Smear a lit­tle on the side plates to pre­vent cor­ro­sion, but it’s the mov­ing joins and rollers that need lu­bri­ca­tion.

5 No-one will look out for you

In the cur­rent dash cam cul­ture, many seek to point the fin­ger of blame af­ter in­ci­dents, but that doesn’t help when you’re sprawled in the road. Hone aware­ness, give your­self as much vis­i­bil­ity as pos­si­ble, and don’t get overly fa­mil­iar with roads – treat haz­ards with the same cau­tion ev­ery day, and avoid prob­lems in the first place, rather than just hav­ing video to show af­ter­wards.

6 Fine-tune your con­trols

Spend a few min­utes ad­just­ing lever heights ( your fore­arms, wrists and back of the hand should be in a di­rect line in your nat­u­ral rid­ing po­si­tion), lever span and clutch freeplay, plus set­ting foot con­trols so they’re easy to use. The gear lever should be com­fort­able to shift up or down pos­i­tively. The rear brake pedal should be set so your right foot hov­ers just above it.

7 There’s no sub­sti­tute for con­trol

Slip­per clutches, quick­shifter, ABS, trac­tion con­trol... they’ve all made rid­ing bet­ter. But they don’t ex­ist to fix poor rid­ing. ABS and trac­tion con­trol sys­tems are so­phis­ti­cated these days, but they will work even bet­ter if you’re smoother and more con­sid­ered with throt­tle and brake con­trol – abrupt in­put forces the bike to rein you in.

8 Trust your judge­ment

Rid­ers of any abil­ity can ap­pre­ci­ate sus­pen­sion work­ing prop­erly – if you think there is a han­dling or ride qual­ity prob­lem, seek ex­pert ad­vice. The same goes for tyres – there’s lots of good tyres around, but dif­fer­ent peo­ple like dif­fer­ent things, and there’s a tyre for ev­ery job – if you think some­thing isn’t right with your bike, get the right help to make sure it is.

9 Lis­ten to the right peo­ple

The in­ter­net has given every­one a voice. The pub know-it-all who used to spout crap to a few peo­ple now has ac­cess to mil­lions. Don’t ac­cept some­one else’s opin­ion un­less they can prove their ex­pe­ri­ence. Specialists (like ex-racer James Whitham, above right) spend years hon­ing their skills and re­search­ing – make sure you’re lis­ten­ing to the right peo­ple.

Pass­ing your test is only the first step into a world of bik­ing knowl­edge

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