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Step 8: Accelerating and Decelerating

You've taught yourself to start the bike, get it moving, and to turn. Unfortunately, you aren't going to do to well on public roads if you're stuck in first gear. Next you need to work on accelerating, decelerating, and shifting gears.

One of the joys of a motorcycle is that the only difficult gear is first. Once the bike is moving shifting is much easier. When to shift is entirely dependent on your motorcycle, your riding situation, and your riding style. Generally speaking, a sportier riding style favors shifting later, while a fuel efficient style favors shifting earlier.

A rough idea of the gear to be in is:
0-15 MPH - 1st
15 - 30 MPH - 2nd
30 - 45 MPH - 3rd
45 - 55 MPH - 4th
55 - 65 MPH - 5th
65+ MPH - 6th

Emphasis on rough idea. A 1000cc sport bike could go 70 MPH in 2nd gear if you wanted to (not that I'd recommend that).

While accelerating, when you feel like you want to up shift there is a procedure:
1. Pull in the clutch and release the throttle.
2. Kick the gear shifter up and return to the original position.
3. Roll on the throttle as you release the clutch.

When you need to decelerate on a motorcycle there is one key thing to remember, the vast majority (70% or more) of your stopping power comes from your front brake. When you want to decelerate there are two main ways, engine braking and conventional braking. 

Engine braking is using the natural resistance of the engine to slow the motorcycle. This is done by releasing the clutch and allowing the engine's RPM to drop and by potentially downshifting. Be sure not to stall the motorcycle when doing this.

Conventional braking is simply using the disc brakes like on a car. Simply pull the front brake and press the rear brake simultaneously.

If you feel that you have slowed down enough that you should downshift, the procedure is very similar to up shifting.
1. Pull in the clutch and release the throttle.
2. Kick the gear shifter down and return it to its original position.
3. Roll on the throttle as you release the clutch.

If you are coming to a complete stop, be sure to pull the clutch in so you do not stall the bike. When you are about to stop moving, place your left foot on the ground (the right foot should still be braking). Once you come to a stop, place your right foot on the ground as well.

If while braking you lock up a tire and it starts skidding, what you do depends on the tire. If it is the rear tire, your best bet is to keep the tire locked until you are moving in a straight line again or stopped. If you release the rear brake while skidding or drifting it can cause the rear of the bike to essentially snap back into place which can cause you to fly off the bike. If you lock the front brake immediately release it and slowly reapply it. Locking the front brake can be dangerous as you can be sent over the handlebars or the front wheel my cut (sharply turn to one side).
<p>Although this 'scructable provides great advice, when taking a certified course, upon completion, a certificate eliminates the need to take a road test at the DMV to get a Motorcycle Endorsement on your Driver's License. A road test in front of a DMV employee is a very stressful event for most new riders.</p>
My state and several other states don't care who says so. They want at least one &quot;road test&quot; before they will believe you at least know the basics and don't fall off or hit things too often. <br>When I took my first test (1964) the &quot; examiner &quot; had the discretion to ride on the bike with you DURING the road course/test portion! That after you got a permit to pratice &quot;under supervision&quot; of a certified motorcycle licensee with &quot;more than&quot; one year licensed &quot;experiance and drive you to the examination station and prove same.<br><br>I don't think you want to but: Sir, I pushed the bike hear manually wit the engine off. Then pick the coldest day with as much rain/sleet as you can take.<br>I brought a Honda with a step thru frame and &quot;automatic clutch&quot; (centrifugal) with an electric start so i wouldn't fail by stalling the engine taking off from a stading start. (I forgot to turn the gas valve petcock back on before the &quot;test&quot; and the ran out of fuel and quit. <br><br>The electric starter and my academy award acting skills got me throught it?<br><br>Take the course, talk to veteran riders, look at the crash pictures/visit hospitals and artificial limb shops ( my dad worked at one, mom loved me too much and signed for me) then and only then: forget the whole thing!
My state and several other states don't care who says so. They want at least one &quot;road test&quot; before they will believe you at least know the basics and don't fall off or hit things too often. <br>When I took my first test (1964) the &quot; examiner &quot; had the discretion to ride on the bike with you DURING the road course/test portion! That after you got a permit to pratice &quot;under supervision&quot; of a certified motorcycle licensee with &quot;more than&quot; one year licensed &quot;experiance and drive you to the examination station and prove same.<br><br>I don't think you want to but: Sir, I pushed the bike hear manually wit the engine off. Then pick the coldest day with as much rain/sleet as you can take.<br>I brought a Honda with a step thru frame and &quot;automatic clutch&quot; (centrifugal) with an electric start so i wouldn't fail by stalling the engine taking off from a stading start. (I forgot to turn the gas valve petcock back on before the &quot;test&quot; and the ran out of fuel and quit. <br><br>The electric starter and my academy award acting skills got me throught it?<br><br>Take the course, talk to veteran riders, look at the crash pictures/visit hospitals and artificial limb shops ( my dad worked at one, mom loved me too much and signed for me) then and only then: forget the whole thing!
<p>The MSF Basic Rider course only grants an excemption for the raod test in certain states, check your local laws.</p>
I got my license, yay!
Ride on! Congratulations and condolences, pick one.
Xaqfixx; <br>My state and several other states don't care who says so. They want at least one &quot;road test&quot; before they will believe you at least know the basics and don't fall off or hit things too often. <br>When I took my first test (1964) the &quot; examiner &quot; had the discretion to ride on the bike with you DURING the road course/test portion! That after you got a permit to pratice &quot;under supervision&quot; of a certified motorcycle licensee with &quot;more than&quot; one year licensed &quot;experiance and drive you to the examination station and prove same.<br><br>I don't think you want to but: Sir, I pushed the bike hear manually wit the engine off. Then pick the coldest day with as much rain/sleet as you can take.<br>I brought a Honda with a step thru frame and &quot;automatic clutch&quot; (centrifugal) with an electric start so i wouldn't fail by stalling the engine taking off from a stading start. (I forgot to turn the gas valve petcock back on before the &quot;test&quot; and the ran out of fuel and quit. <br><br>The electric starter and my academy award acting skills got me throught it?<br><br>Take the course, talk to veteran riders, look at the crash pictures/visit hospitals and artificial limb shops ( my dad worked at one, mom loved me too much and signed for me) then and only then: forget the whole thing!
Xaqfixx; <br>My state and several other states don't care who says so. They want at least one &quot;road test&quot; before they will believe you at least know the basics and don't fall off or hit things too often. <br>When I took my first test (1964) the &quot; examiner &quot; had the discretion to ride on the bike with you DURING the road course/test portion! That after you got a permit to pratice &quot;under supervision&quot; of a certified motorcycle licensee with &quot;more than&quot; one year licensed &quot;experiance and drive you to the examination station and prove same.<br><br>I don't think you want to but: Sir, I pushed the bike hear manually wit the engine off. Then pick the coldest day with as much rain/sleet as you can take.<br>I brought a Honda with a step thru frame and &quot;automatic clutch&quot; (centrifugal) with an electric start so i wouldn't fail by stalling the engine taking off from a stading start. (I forgot to turn the gas valve petcock back on before the &quot;test&quot; and the ran out of fuel and quit. <br><br>The electric starter and my academy award acting skills got me throught it?<br><br>Take the course, talk to veteran riders, look at the crash pictures/visit hospitals and artificial limb shops ( my dad worked at one, mom loved me too much and signed for me) then and only then: forget the whole thing!
Excuse the spelling. I can't and the spell check won't?
Reply if you can't decide the pros and cons, I've made most of the mistakes and had a lot of fun: so far.<br><br>Live long and ride safe!
You may want to also try releasing the throttle before any up or downshifting then pull in the cluch as the RPM's fall/slow at first.<br><br>Power shifting is an art, sometimes accompanied by a death wish and or a large reduction in net worth!<br><br>Furthermore &quot;Kicking&quot; the gear shifter has a similar effect yet mostly to a lesser degree.<br>Press it gently and smoothly at the right time will reduce the pucker factor and increase your sucess rate of staying alive and solvency. <br><br>Forget that start up heel toe rolling/rocking or your orthopedic knee amd ankle surgeon's will take better vacations and tell you the same thing. Wear apprpriate footwear; no shower shoes or sandals! Maintain balance asyou slowly accelerate from a stop and your foot will appear to raise itself then place it upon the peg. Stop and go uphill is another story. Yet allow tje egine to go slightly faster than the stoped rear wheel untol both wheels roll the sme speed as you fully engage/release the clutch SLOWLY AND SMOOTHLY until it is time to upshift as the speed and RPMs dictate.<br>Wear extra clothing until you can do that without having to constantly think about it amd then keep wearing extra or protective clothing at the least from now on.<br>Pain, surgery, medication and rehabilitation costs much more and you can't give it away or sell it.<br><br>If you decide the safety coyrse is a very good and basic start. Old age is an excellent end 8-)
<br>Can i watch you do that: left turn- push the left handlebar away from you! Right turn, push the right handlebar away from you! While looking in the direction of the turn you want to make/ are going to go.<br><br>Let me get this straight. After riiding for 52 years. and 12 bikes if i want to turn left, look left and PUSH THE LEFT HANDLE BAR AWAY FROM ME? <br><br>What do I do as I slide down the roadway on my left knee, left elbow and nose?<br><br>Actually: you can try thst on a mile dirt track: At 120 MPH push the left handle bar away from you as you lean left but, look right as the bike is dancing on it's fron wheel next to another rider or the fence and rhe rear wheel is going faster them the front wheel sideways to your right. Continue to pull right handlebar and slide your steel left foot plate on the ground behind the dancing front wheel until yoi are out of the turn then reverse the procedure until you ane straght and perpendicular to the track and accelerate harder into the next left turn. Try that on asphalt or a concrete track ad you will win or punch a hole in the fence.<br>On a regular day and on a regular motorcycle just pretend it's a bicycle but with out pedals but a motor!<br>Twist the right handle bar down (counterclockwise) make the front wheel go up and twist it up (clockwise) to make the front wheel go down.<br><br>If anything happens you don't expect; 99% of the time pull in the clutch first and prey you do the right thing next!<br><br>I fell a few times at an obscene speed but I lived to tell theis tale.<br>Do likewise, else slower
<br>Can i watch you do that: left turn- push the left handlebar away from you! Right turn, push the right handlebar away from you! While looking in the direction of the turn you want to make/ are going to go.<br><br>Let me get this straight. After riiding for 52 years. and 12 bikes if i want to turn left, look left and PUSH THE LEFT HANDLE BAR AWAY FROM ME? <br><br>What do I do as I slide down the roadway on my left knee, left elbow and nose?<br><br>Actually: you can try thst on a mile dirt track: At 120 MPH push the left handle bar away from you as you lean left but, look right as the bike is dancing on it's fron wheel next to another rider or the fence and rhe rear wheel is going faster them the front wheel sideways to your right. Continue to pull right handlebar and slide your steel left foot plate on the ground behind the dancing front wheel until yoi are out of the turn then reverse the procedure until you ane straght and perpendicular to the track and accelerate harder into the next left turn. Try that on asphalt or a concrete track ad you will win or punch a hole in the fence.<br>On a regular day and on a regular motorcycle just pretend it's a bicycle but with out pedals but a motor!<br>Twist the right handle bar down (counterclockwise) make the front wheel go up and twist it up (clockwise) to make the front wheel go down.<br><br>If anything happens you don't expect; 99% of the time pull in the clutch first and prey you do the right thing next!<br><br>I fell a few times at an obscene speed but I lived to tell theis tale.<br>Do likewise, else slower.
<p>Just take a class, most community colleges have a one for cheap and lowers your insurance when you finish. Most have their own bikes too.</p><p>★★ Signature: &trade;<a href="http://www.hideplate.org/" rel="nofollow">Hide Car/Motorcycle License Plate by Remote</a>&trade;★★ <br></p><p>.</p>
it's too dangerous to learn it yourself. you should take a teacher, it's better not to ride on a motorcycle at all.
I taught myself on my dads 1500cc Vulcan. Started in the driveway. Ended up riding it for a year then bought my 440LTD, someone hit me, now have a Rebel. Just like riding a bicycle.
Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
it's really dangerous
just letting you know i taught myself to ride on a 50cc dirt bike when i was 12 i am now 21 and my only accident was caused by somebody that ran a red light, there was nothing any class or instructor could have taught me that would have stopped the other driver from hitting me. this being said the est thing you can do is be alert and wear your safety gear
just letting you know i taught myself to ride on a 50cc dirt bike when i was 12 i am now 21 and my only accident was caused by somebody that ran a red light, there was nothing any class or instructor could have taught me that would have stopped the other driver from hitting me. this being said the est thing you can do is be alert and wear your safety gear
So is driving a car. Or walking down the street. Or smoking. Or cooking. <br> <br>Also, if we're not here to learn something by ourselves, why are we on instructables in the first place?
Solid instructable. I had taken a MSF class a couple years ago and read up using your guide it was helpful getting the mental check list back in you head. Once you know how it feels / how to counter steer it stays with you forever.
thank you for going in to detail on the safety gear, i would not be hear today if i wasn't wearing mine. i live in a tropic climate where every day is ridding weather and i see guys ridding their motorcycles in shorts a t shirt and flip flops and it drives my crazy when i see somebody being that dumb
I learned to ride on a big pile of sand near Corona. Sand is a good thing to fall on, better than grass or asphalt, if you're gonna fall, and you will likely fall. Then take a class or three. When you do get out on the road, ride like you are invisible, because you are, simply because you are not a car, and that's all most folks are looking out for.
Hey! I'm super glad you are promoting safe riding, and for the most part you are putting verbatim from your MSF class. But there needs to be a change to how you talk about high speed steering. <br><br>The way you put it, the wheel is actually going to turn the opposite way from where you want to turn. Someone back in my MSF class actually tried this at 20 mph. Leaning right, and FORCING his wheel left, instant high side. This is not what you do. <br><br>The push right, turn right is just that. By putting pressure on the inside handle bar, the gyroscopic forces of the front wheel will initiate the lean and turn. The more pressure you put, the harder your bike will lean. But if you pay close attention to your hands, as you push, the bars will push back, and your hands will move in the opposite direction you push. <br><br>My reccomendation, before you try and conciosly create counter steer, get to 15-20 and let your instincts take over. Look and lean into your turn, and the bike will follow. Once you're comfortable, then figure out exactly what is going on with the bars.
That is a good recommendation but counter-steering and leaning is initiated by the handlebars briefly turning in the opposite direction of the turn. It's a subtle turn of the handle-bars, nothing nearly as pronounced as in a low speed turn.<br><br>You are definitely right by saying the handlebars aren't completely turning like in a low speed turn though as that could lead to a nasty high side.
This is a good walkthrough. As a fellow rider I started only 6 months ago and have fallen in love with riding. My uncle taught me to ride around the back lane before taking me out on the open roads. But I will say many motorcycles handle differently i.e. A chopper or sled has a much wider turning circle compared to a sportsbike or dirt bike. Just take it slow and ease into it.
I learned on a cruiser and dirtbike, then bought a sportbike. The sportbike is a sail in the wind unless you get right down on the tank, the cruisers feel very top heavy and the dirtbikes have really twitchy throttles. Practice practice practice until you're comfortable! <br>Very good and detailed instructable! Wish I had this when I started out.
I have been riding since 1964 ! Many moons ago! Over the years, I have owned many motorcycles. I still ride and own four. It is the most free and rewarding thing to do on two wheels. But lately, due to the increase in driver distracting toys (GPS, Cell Phones, Cameras, video players, DVD players, TEXTING, etc...) in autos, there has been a great number of accidents (many deaths) with motorcycles getting run down! A few of my riding buddies have been victims ! I now get very cautious and concerned when I ride and see people that are not paying attention to the road and ME!! So now I ride less and worry more about my next ride! Will I live to see another day, because of someone being stupid? Think about this! Call and or email your state politicians, especially NEW YORK, to get them to pass the law that says: NO TALKING OR TEXTING ON PHONES! It will save your life,maybe! Thanks, Live to ride, ride to live! Triumphman
We've had those laws here for several years now, really anything that can distract a driver can earn you a ticket here. It doesn't help because there just aren't enough police to enforce it. I have a Kawi Ninja 636 and every single ride I go on I'm dodging people in cages not paying attention. Just yesterday a car packed with teenagers came 2 or 3 feet over the mustard at me and laughed their arses off as they passed me. Hours before that, going through an intersection someone who was paying attention didn't see me, then when he did see me he panicked and stopped dead right in front of me as I was leaning, it was close. Getting cut off and dumping your pretty new bike is not fun folks, you really have to watch for EVERYONE! Including the cop who suicidally ran out into the middle of the road to stop me...
insted of ''gear up '' why not ''armor up''?
This is an awesome walkthrough! Lots of good tips.

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