There are three basic techniques that every motorcycle rider should know. Even advanced motorcycle riders can use a refresher on the basics:
1. Head & eyes
2. Using the friction zone
3. Controlling the rear brake
First, you must master the "head and eyes" technique. This means exactly that wherever you look is where the motorcycle will go. The reason the phrase "head and eyes" is used is that if you turn your head to the left, but your eyes look straight ahead, this motorcycle riding technique won't work. Both your head and eyes must turn in the direction you want the motorcycle to go. Don't ever look down unless you want to go down. The "head and eyes" technique takes practice to become second nature. Fortunately, you can practice this riding technique every time you ride your motorcycle. For instance, if you are turning to the right from a stop sign, turn your head and eyes to the right, look down the road where you want the motorcycle to go and you'll immediately notice you will be making a much tighter turn than normal. When you stop at a stop sign and are about to make a left hand turn, turn your head and eyes to the left, avoid looking at the curb or the center line of the road and focus on where you want the bike to end up and you will find you will never drift towards the curb or the center line of the road. You can even practice the "head and eyes" technique while riding a bicycle by making U-turns on the road in front of your own house.
Second, you must learn how to use the friction zone. The friction zone is the area on the clutch between fully open and fully closed. In other words, as you let the clutch out and the motorcycle starts to move, you're entering the friction zone. A simple way to become accustomed to riding a motorcycle in the friction zone is to practice what's called the slow race. That is merely going as slow as you possibly can without releasing the clutch all the way.
Third, you need to properly use the rear or controlling brake. With the bike in the friction zone, keep your foot on the rear brake and feather it as the motorcycle starts to move. By doing this you are making the bike think it's going faster than it is. When you apply power and keep your foot on the rear brake, it keeps the bike from falling over at low speeds that is where most people have difficulty. I've never heard of anyone having problems balancing their bike at 50 or 60 MPH. If you don't use these motorcycle riding techniques at 5 or 10 MPH, the motorcycle feels clumsy and wants to fall over on its side.
AVOID using the front brake at all costs when riding at parking lot speeds, as applying the front brake at 5 or 10 MPH with the handlebars turned even slightly will pull you to the ground like a magnet. Of course, once above parking lot speeds, you must use the front brake as well as the rear brake, as 70% of your braking power comes from the front brake.
Avoid dragging your feet along the ground as this tends to upset the balance of the bike, and of course, if your feet are dragging on the ground you cannot have your foot on the brake. As soon as you start to move your bike from a complete stop, both feet should automatically come up to the pegs or floorboards and your right foot should be feathering the rear brake. Once you conquer these 3 simple techniques, you will be amazed at the tight maneuvers your motorcycle can perform. You'll know you've gotten it right when you can make full lock turns in both directions at 5 MPH with the pegs or boards scraping a perfect circle in the pavement.
Even if you have been through advanced motorcycle training, a refresher on the basics is always a good idea.
Remember, all it takes is a little practice on your motorcycle. Good Luck!
Jerry "Motorman" Palladino began teaching the Ride Like a Pro classes in 1999 and has expanded to ten franchises throughout the US. Operated by fellow motor officers these rider courses teach life saving techniques that every motorcyclist should master. A "Motorman" is the term used in police circles to identify a motorcycle officer. Police Motor Officers are the top 2% of riders in America. They are able to handle 800 lb. motorcycles with agile confidence. Jerry "Motorman" Palladino has demonstrated over 3,000 Motorcycle Safety seminars all over the Country while continuing his work as a part time deputy sheriff. For over thirteen years ride like a pro courses have taught thousands of students and have never had a single injury or incident. Go to RideLikeaPro.com to learn more about the power of control.