How To Ride A Motorcycle

How To Ride A Motorcycle: Safety Tips And Beginner Techniques

Key Takeaways:

  • Gear Up for Safety: Always wear appropriate safety gear, including a DOT-approved helmet, protective clothing, and proper footwear, to mitigate the risk of injuries.
  • Master the Controls: Familiarizing yourself with your motorcycle's controls, such as the throttle, brakes, and clutch, is crucial for safe riding.
  • Ride According to Conditions: Adjust your riding style and speed based on weather conditions and traffic to maintain safety on the road.


As a leading name in motorcycle apparel, NBT Clothing prides itself on equipping riders with the knowledge and gear necessary for safe and exhilarating motorcycle adventures. With experience in crafting high-quality, durable riding gear, we understand the thrill and demands of motorcycle riding. 

In this guide, we explore the essentials of motorcycle riding for beginners, covering everything from choosing the right motorcycle and essential gear to mastering basic controls and safety tips. Whether you're gearing up for your first ride or seeking to refine your skills, our expert insights ensure you ride with confidence and security. Join us as we explore the fundamental techniques and safety measures every rider should know.


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Choosing The Right Motorcycle For Beginners

Selecting your first motorcycle is a pivotal decision that can significantly impact your riding experience. It's important to choose a bike that not only fits your budget but also your physical capabilities and riding goals. For beginners, a motorcycle with a manageable size and power is advisable, as it ensures better control and confidence. Lightweight motorcycles, such as standard models or smaller cruisers, are often recommended because they are easier to handle at low speeds and during stops. 

Additionally, consider the seat height and ergonomics of the motorcycle to ensure that you can sit comfortably and reach the ground with both feet, which is crucial for stability when stopped. When visiting dealerships, don't hesitate to sit on various models to find the best ergonomic fit, and ask for advice on the features that might help you as a beginner, like anti-lock braking systems (ABS) or automatic transmissions which can ease the learning curve.

Essential Gear For Motorcycle Safety

Safety should always be a top priority when riding a motorcycle and wearing the right gear is a critical aspect of this. The essential safety gear every rider should invest in includes:


A DOT-approved helmet is the most vital piece of safety equipment. Helmets protect against head injuries and should fit snugly without being uncomfortably tight. Full-face helmets offer comprehensive protection for your entire face and eyes from debris, insects, and harsh weather. This type of helmet also helps in reducing wind noise, allowing for a more focused and safer ride.


Choose a motorcycle jacket made from durable materials such as Aramid. Our jackets at NBT Clothing are fully lined with Aramid and designed to protect against abrasions and often come with padded armor in critical areas like the back, elbows, and shoulders. A good quality jacket not only safeguards against road rash in the event of a fall but also provides some level of weather protection, keeping you warm in cold conditions and cool in hot weather.


Motorcycle gloves should fully cover your hands and wrists and be made of a strong, abrasion-resistant material. NBT Clothing’s Stealth Series Moto Gloves are lightweight, comfortable, and durable and are constructed with ARMOTEX Anti Abrasion and Anti Tear Fabric to protect your hands in the event of a fall. Gloves with reinforced palms and padded knuckles offer additional protection and can help prevent injuries from stones or other debris thrown up from the road.


Like jackets, pants should be made from tough materials to protect against abrasions. NBT Clothing’s motorcycle pants come with Aramid slide protection and fit comfortably without being too tight or too loose, allowing for a full range of motion during riding. They are built to last and be worn for any occasion so that you can rock them on and off the road.


Motorcycle boots should cover your ankles and provide a firm grip on the pavement. They protect your feet and ankles during falls and help maintain control over the bike's foot controls. Quality boots are designed with oil-resistant, non-slip soles to ensure a firm footing even on wet or slippery surfaces. Additionally, sturdy ankle support can prevent twisting injuries and provide more stability while riding.

Basic Motorcycle Controls And How To Operate Them

Understanding and mastering the controls of your motorcycle is a fundamental step in becoming a proficient rider. Here are the primary controls you'll need to familiarize yourself with:


Located on the right handlebar, the throttle controls the engine's power output. Rolling the throttle toward you increases speed while rolling it away decreases speed. Managing the throttle smoothly is crucial for maintaining control, especially in curves and when maneuvering in traffic. Overuse can lead to loss of control, while underuse can cause the engine to stall, making throttle control a critical skill for safe riding.


The clutch lever is found on the left handlebar and is used to engage or disengage the transmission from the engine. It is primarily used when starting, stopping, or shifting gears. Proper use of the clutch ensures smooth transitions between gears and can prevent the bike from stalling. Mastering clutch control is essential for effective starts from a stop and for gear changes while riding, contributing to a smoother and safer ride.


Your motorcycle has two brakes—a front brake and a rear brake. The front brake lever is on the right handlebar, and it is more powerful and should be used primarily. The rear brake pedal is located near your right foot. It's important to learn how to use both brakes effectively to manage stopping distances and maintain control. The front brake is responsible for the majority of stopping power, but using it too harshly can lead to skidding or flipping, while the rear brake adds stability and control during slow speed maneuvers and while stopping.

Gear Shifter

The gear shifter is near your left foot. Most motorcycles have a "1 down, 5 up" shifting pattern, meaning the first gear is down, neutral is a half-click up from first, and then second through sixth gears are up from there. Familiarity with your bike’s gear pattern is essential for efficient riding, helping you to maintain the correct speed and power output for various riding conditions.

Turn Signals And Horn

These are typically located on the left handlebar for easy access. Turn signals should be used to indicate your intended direction to other road users, enhancing safety and communication on the road. The horn can be used to alert others to your presence if necessary, especially in situations where visibility is compromised or when other drivers may not be aware of your motorcycle.

Pre-Ride Inspection Checklist

Before every ride, conducting a thorough pre-ride inspection is essential for ensuring your motorcycle is in safe working condition. This checklist can help you avoid mechanical issues that could lead to dangerous situations on the road:


Check for any cracks, bulges, or signs of wear in the treads. Ensure the tire pressure is at the level recommended by the motorcycle manufacturer. Proper tire maintenance is crucial as it directly affects the bike’s handling and braking. Always make sure that your tires are not only in good physical condition but also correctly inflated according to the ride you’re planning, whether it's on smooth highways or rugged terrain.

Lights And Signals

Make sure all your lights and signals are functioning properly. This includes your headlight, brake lights, tail light, and turn signals. Functional lighting is critical for visibility, especially during dawn, dusk, or night riding. It’s also a legal requirement to have all signal lights working to communicate with other drivers effectively, enhancing your safety on the road.

Fluid Levels

Check oil, coolant, and brake fluid levels to ensure they are within the recommended range. Look for any signs of leaks under the motorcycle. Adequate fluid levels are essential for the motorcycle's operation; low levels can lead to engine damage or brake failure, which are serious safety risks.


Check both the front and rear brakes. Make sure they feel firm and hold the motorcycle stationary when fully applied. Brakes are your primary safety feature, so they must always be in top condition. Testing them before a ride helps detect any potential issues that could compromise your ability to stop quickly and safely.

Chain And Sprockets

Inspect the chain for proper tension and lubrication. Sprockets should not have damaged or worn teeth. A well-maintained chain and sprocket set ensure smooth transmission of power from your engine to the wheels. Poor maintenance can lead to unexpected malfunctions, affecting your control over the motorcycle.


Adjust your mirrors to ensure you have a clear view of the road behind you. They should be secure and free from cracks. Properly positioned mirrors are crucial for maintaining situational awareness and reducing blind spots, which is vital for safe lane changes and turns.


Test your horn to ensure it is loud enough to alert other drivers or pedestrians. A functioning horn can be a critical tool for preventing accidents, especially in situations where you need to quickly draw attention to your presence.

Starting Your Motorcycle: A Step-by-Step Guide

Starting a motorcycle involves several precise steps to ensure it runs smoothly and safely. Here's a detailed guide on how to start your motorcycle:

  1. Ensure the Motorcycle is in Neutral: Check the neutral indicator on the dashboard to confirm that the bike is in neutral. This prevents the motorcycle from lurching forward when started.
  2. Turn on the Ignition: Insert the key into the ignition and turn it to the 'on' position. This will power up the motorcycle's electrical systems.
  3. Check the Kill Switch: Ensure that the kill switch is in the 'run' position. The kill switch is a safety feature that cuts off power to the engine and can prevent the motorcycle from starting if it's in the 'off' position.
  4. Pull in the Clutch Lever: Even if the bike is in neutral, it's a good practice to pull in the clutch when starting. This can help prevent any accidental movement.
  5. Start the Engine: Press the start button, usually located on the right handlebar. The engine should start running if all previous steps have been done correctly.
  6. Warm up the Engine: Let the engine idle for a few minutes to warm up. This helps the oil circulate and lubricate the internal parts of the engine.
  7. Check the Controls: While the engine warms up, this is a good time to check your throttle, brakes, and clutch for proper operation.
  8. Set Off Gradually: Once the motorcycle is warmed up, you can slowly release the clutch and gently apply the throttle to start moving.

Following these steps will help ensure that your motorcycle starts safely and functions properly. Starting correctly is key to a safe ride.


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Final Thoughts 

When you start riding a motorcycle, always remember that being safe is the most important thing. Wear the right gear, check that your motorcycle is in good shape before each ride, and obey the traffic rules. Improving your skills by practicing and taking advanced courses can make riding safer and more fun. Riding a motorcycle gives you a special sense of freedom, but you also have to be responsible. 

You’ll have a great experience on the road by following the safety advice and beginner advice in this guide by the experts at NBT Clothing. Always be alert, look out for dangers, and ride carefully to protect yourself and others. Being a thoughtful and well-informed rider not only keeps you safe but also shows respect for others on the road. Forge ahead fearlessly today with the help of NBT Clothing.

Read also: 

Frequently Asked Questions About Riding A Motorcycle

What should I do if my motorcycle stalls in traffic?

Remain calm, signal to other road users that you're having trouble, and if safe, push your bike to the side of the road. Restart the engine following the standard procedure.

How often should I take refresher riding courses?

It's beneficial to take a refresher course every few years or whenever you feel your skills might be getting rusty. Continuous learning helps keep your riding skills sharp and up-to-date with new techniques.

What is the best way to secure a motorcycle when parked?

Use a high-quality lock and chain, secure your motorcycle to a stationary object if possible, and consider a disc brake lock to prevent the bike from being rolled away.

Can I ride a motorcycle with a car driver's license?

No, you need a specific motorcycle license or endorsement to legally ride a motorcycle. Requirements vary by state or country, so check local regulations.

Is it safer to ride a motorcycle at night or during the day?

Riding during the day is generally safer due to better visibility. If riding at night, ensure your lights are fully functional, wear reflective gear, and be extra cautious.

How do I maintain motorcycle tires for safety?

Regularly check tire pressure, and tread depth, and look for any signs of wear or damage. Replace tires according to the manufacturer's recommendations or if you notice significant wear.

What is countersteering on a motorcycle?

Countersteering involves pushing the handlebar in the opposite direction you want to go (push left to go right, and vice versa) to initiate a lean and turn the bike effectively.

How should I adjust my riding style in heavy traffic?

Increase your following distance, be vigilant for sudden stops, and avoid weaving between lanes. Use your horn sparingly to alert drivers if necessary.

What are the signs that my motorcycle needs professional maintenance?

Unusual noises, decreased performance, difficulty starting, or irregularities in braking or handling are all signs that your motorcycle might need professional attention.

Can I ride a motorcycle in winter weather conditions?

Yes, but it requires special preparations like winter tires, enhanced motorcycle maintenance, and appropriate riding gear for cold weather to ensure safety.

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