This is a long list of beginner motorcycle riding mistakes one should avoid.
It’s easier and better to list the things NOT to do rather than things to do to improve motorcycle riding.
So with that, here are 27 beginner motorcycle rider mistakes you should AVOID:
#1. Not slowing while cornering
No matter what speed you are in, shift down a gear or two and slow down while cornering.
While turning a corner, you are changing your motorcycle’s direction – going against its momentum to go straight. The higher the speed the higher the momentum and you have to steer the handlebar stronger.
That’s why, the saner approach is to slow down before you corner. Then steer the handlebar. Take the turn. And then you can speed up the way you were going before.
But before cornering? Hit the gear lever down and take it slow.
#2. Drunken driving
Even I am surprised I have to put this here. That too on the top of this list.
Yet, so many people do drive drunk.
And their excuse?
Oh, I just had two beers. No biggy. See I can walk straight to the Atlantic Sea.
Or, I know I am drunk but I am a cautious, careful, watchful, the safest rider you will see in your entire freaking lifetime.
Should I go more?
Don’t be one of these chumps.
Because the worst hits you when you least expect it.
Not just for you, but also for the other person you are crashing into. And to your motorcycle (let’s be honest, we love our motorcycles to death).
Bottomline. Don’t drink and drive.
#3. Not using turn indicators
Most bike riders are sensible enough to use turn indicators.
But there is that ignorant minority who don’t use turn signals.
And you know what? They grind my gears.
How am I supposed to know you were gonna take a left? I am not some Second Foundationer who can read your mind.
Use the turn indicators while taking a turn.
It’s a basic driving etiquette.
#4. Forgetting to cancel turn indicators
As soon as you complete the turn, turn off the indicator (common sense I know, but it’s so rare to find).
Switching the turn signals on isn’t enough.
You have to switch them off once you complete the turn.
I won’t give you too much snark on this one since I have been guilty of it too.
Sometimes it slips our minds.
Thankfully, many motorcycles make a sound when the turn signal is on. Reminding you to switch the indicator off. On another note, I am no more thankful for the sound. They are annoying.
In short, keep in mind to switch the turn indicators off. Even if there is no sound, pay attention to turning it off.
Else it’s gonna confuse the vehicles right behind you.
#5. Riding in shorts and flip-flops
Don’t get me started on this.
I have seen so many instances of riders on flip-flops. Just because it’s a small round the town on a sunny day.
Of course, riders going on a long road trip don’t do this. They know better.
But for a short small ride in the town?
Many still do it.
It’s a short ride. What’s the harm right?
Shorts and flip-flops work for cars. For motorcycles, you gotta suit up. I ain’t saying wear full gear. But wear something better than those darn flip-flops.
#6. Too dependent on front brakes
Before you chew my head off, I am okay with front brakes. There is nothing wrong with the front brakes.
Use the front brakes.
But don’t rely too much on it.
Let me try to break it down.
Your default mode of braking should be rear brakes and engine braking. Front brakes are useful but mainly when you want to halt the motorcycle, or in an emergency when you want to brake abruptly.
Other times, use the front brakes to a minimum.
Of course, don’t go the other way and stop using front brakes. Apply front brakes but sparingly.
#7. Riding with flat tires
I know you don’t do this normally. But you do this since you just found you have flat tires and the nearest service center is 3 miles away so you have to ride that 3 miles with flat tires.
Otherwise, you definitely wouldn’t ride with a late tire.
You see what I mean?
Don’t ride that 3 miles with a flat tire.
What to do then?
Here’s exactly what you are going to do after a flat tire.
Park the motorcycle and call your mechanic to replace the tire. Pay him more since he has to travel to you.
If you can’t park anywhere nearby, don’t ride with a flat tire. Get off the bike. Switch the motorcycle to neutral gear. Push the motorcycle with your hands and walk forward.
#8. Leaving the high beam ON all the time
High beams should be used sparingly. S-P-A-R-I-N-G-L-Y.
According to the dictionary, sparingly means:
in a restricted or infrequent manner; in small quantities.
Use the high beam as little as possible and only when required.
Don’t blast your LED high beam on a traffic road onto the oncoming vehicles. Or even on the foggy roads.
You have something called a low beam too on your motorcycle. Use that.
Use the high beam only when you can’t see the road ahead and there aren’t enough street lights. Even then use it for a short amount of time.
#9. Starting with a heavy 500cc bike
I know you are a macho man.
But don’t flex it with your first motorcycle.
I would say don’t flex it in anything, but we both know that’s a lost cause.
So let’s stick to your first motorcycle for now.
If you are buying your first bike, you are most likely in your beginner stages. So take it easy pal (I know I am not your pal, buddy).
Go for a lower cc motorcycle.
They are usually lower weighted. Easy to maneuver. Easy to control. And you won’t ride at ridiculous speed and do something stupid.
Bottomline. Don’t be a 500cc guy with your first bike.
#10. Not looking far into the corner
This is a classic beginner mistake. You try to take a turn but don’t look through the road ahead of the turn.
So what to do?
Look ahead. Look further. Look far into the corner.
Not just the corner.
If it’s a sharp turn, maybe honk (I don’t care, let the vehicle on the other side know your presence). If it ain’t a sharp turn, look ahead and see if any vehicles are coming towards you.
Don’t get target-fixated. Which brings us to…
#11. Target fixation
Target fixation is when you focus on one thing too much while riding to the point that you don’t notice other things.
This is especially a problem (at least for me) while cornering and taking sharp turns. You focus so much on the turn and not mess up, you actually end up messing it up. To the point of crashing down.
Of course, that’s not the only way to target fixation. There are many and it comes in different forms.
Focusing too much on one vehicle coming towards you, or focusing on a pole to avoid crashing, or focusing on the trees, or even focusing on that pretty girl with skimpy clothes walking on the pavement (this ain’t target fixation, it’s you being horny).
You get the point. Don’t focus too much on one target. Be aware of your surroundings.
#12. Trying to keep up with experienced riders
This is especially true if you are part of a biker club. Where you are still in your early stages but riding with experienced riders.
The group rides are fun.
But don’t feel the pressure to ride fast or keep up with the speed of other riders.
Even worse, don’t pull motorcycle stunts (no wheelies please) just because some other rider does it.
Hold your hippogriff. Keep things simple. And don’t try any stunts. Who even gave you that bike.
#13. Lane splitting recklessly
Lane splitting is illegal in many regions.
But even if it is legal in your region, lane split cautiously.
I am not saying you should avoid it (avoid it if it’s illegal in your area). I am saying look out and keep your eyes open if you are lane-splitting.
Some pedestrians might be crossing the road.
A car guy might open the door out of the blue (why I have no idea).
And kid you not, some take offense if you lane split (psychopaths I swear). And pick fights. Even if lane splitting is perfectly alright in the region.
So lane split cautiously.
#14. Thinking you are Márquez
I love Marc Márquez. I can watch his cornering videos and his saves on YouTube all day.
That guy is a motorcycle beauty.
But let’s be realistic, we ain’t him.
Nor do we have his speeding, cornering, and sliding skills.
I am not saying you are initiating good ol’ Marc. But you are trying to pull some MotoGP shit, and I ain’t buying that.
Stop acting like a MotoGP racer unless you are one or at least on the racetrack.
On other roads, be a decent motorcycle rider. That’s enough. More than enough to be honest.
#15. Too many false neutrals
False neutral is when you shift the gear but the gear does not engage – resulting in a kind of neutral, but not really neutral, position.
If you really want to know the technicalities and the details (yawn!), here is our explainer on false neutrals.
The point is, you are down-shifting from the 5th gear to the 4th gear and somehow end up in between these two gears, and the gear is not engaged. Neutral but not neutral.
It’s not a bad thing. Why, I had a false neutral while riding yesterday as well.
But too much of anything is bad (but too much good whiskey is barely enough).
Since false neutral is not whiskey, too much of it is not a good thing.
The transmission can get damaged (it doesn’t usually unless it happens a million times). But most importantly, it’s annoying and can create problems if you are riding on a high-traffic road.
This is more like a beginner mistake that’s okay rather than a grave mistake a rider should avoid. Still, press that gear shift lever firmly will ya.
#16. Putting gloves first
This is for me. I am that idiot who puts the gloves first. Then I realize I haven’t worn any gear.
I can’t tell you the number of times I wore gloves and then tried to put on my jacket. It’s a lost cause. Don’t try this at home.
Not just the jacket, even other gear are difficult to put on with gloves.
Funniest of them all, try buttoning up with these big gloves on. It will make a hilarious YouTube video.
#17. Hard gear shifting
Hard shifting is when you change the gears in half clutch or no clutch pulled in.
You can hear the sound of gear change loud and clear. Your ears know you did a hard shifting there but your riding skills still go for more hard shifting cuz you are an idiot (I will be nicer from now on, I swear).
A small clunking noise is common with gear change. But a loud shifting noise is a no-no.
Usually, you know when you are hard shifting the gear.
The most common culprit is not pulling in the clutch lever fully.
So go back to your MSF basics. And learn how to shift a gear smooth and clean.
#18. Not practicing after MSF
Learning to ride a motorcycle is a continuous process.
Sure MSF course makes you ready to drive a motorcycle on the road.
Learning doesn’t end with MSF.
Now you don’t have to train to be a MotoGP racer. But at the same time, don’t think you are an expert rider post MSF course.
Take your time. Don’t get cocky. At least so soon. Ride cautiously and let more riding time teach you to ride better.
#19. Not doing pre-ride inspection
A pre-ride inspection is a must to prevent motorcycle breakdown.
Even more so if you are taking your bike out after a long time. Or going for a long ride.
A pre-ride motorcycle inspection includes checking –
- Fuel level
- Tire pressure
- Chain slack and lubrication
- Engine oil levels
- Brakes, clutch and throttle
- Lights, Horn, and other handlebar controls
For more details, here is our pre-ride inspection checklist.
#20. Forgetting ATGATT
All The Gear All The Time.
You gotta gear up whenever you are out for a motorcycle ride.
Some riders don’t believe ATGATT. Some cite it gets too hot with so much gear on.
You only need to buy the gear that you are going to wear.
Too hot? Wear something that absorbs moisture. Too uncomfortable? Go for the gear that you feel comfortable with.
Buying gear products must be personal. It must suit you.
So stop giving lame excuses and wear appropriate gear.
As they say:
Dress for the slide, not the ride.
Let’s break down gears.
The first tier – the helmet.
No helmet. No riding.
Next tier. Wear good boots, a jacket, and sturdy pants.
Last tier. Gloves. Knee pads. Elbow pads.
For long rides and on dirt and gravel roads, I would say all the gear is a must.
#21. Not servicing the motorcycle regularly
Maintaining a motorcycle is 101 of owning a motorcycle.
This includes servicing your motorcycle regularly. The frequency depends on what your motorcycle owner manual says.
As a thumb rule, service your motorcycle every 3000 miles (or 5000 kilometers) of distance traveled.
If your motorcycle is new, the first servicing should be done after traveling 500 miles (or 800 kilometers).
Of course, there are a lot of DIY riders. Who want to service their motorcycles by themselves.
Which is fine as well.
If you are taking the DIY route, here are the things you need to do while servicing your motorcycle.
Tailgating is when you ride your motorcycle too close to the vehicle in front of you. If the vehicle stops abruptly, chances are you might hit the vehicle before you can brake.
Especially when you are a beginner rider, you won’t be too quick to halt fast.
Even worse, you might panic if the vehicle stops in front of you out of the blue.
And that’s one of the reasons I am personally against joining motorcycle clubs or group rides so soon if you are a beginner rider.
So what to do?
Maintain a distance. I would say 2 meters at least. But I am leaving it for your judgment.
You must be capable of stopping your motorcycle before your motorcycle travels the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. That’s the space of distance you must maintain.
#23. No duplicate keys
Motorcycle keys can get lost.
It can happen for various reasons.
And if you don’t have a duplicate key, it’s going to be a pain in the *you know*.
Most new motorcycles provide you with 2 keys, which should suffice.
But if you only have one ignition key, go make a duplicate of that.
Because if you lose the motorcycle key without having a backup, it’s going to be a headache.
You might have to change the ignition lock entirely.
Or if you are lucky, you can rebuy the key using the VIN or key code depending on your dealer.
#24. Riding faster than you can stop
The thrill of riding at top speed is unmatchable. That’s one of the (if not THE) reasons we love motorcycle riding.
But, but, do NOT speed so much that you lose control of your motorcycle.
Any speed you go you must be in a position to stop the motorcycle abruptly. I know it’s difficult. But you must be prepared for emergencies.
What if another vehicle comes at you out of the blue? A cat or a dog or a monkey (apart from you) jumps in front of the road?
You must be prepared.
So don’t speed so much that you are no longer in control of the speed itself.
#25. Thinking loud pipes save lives
Loud pipes save lives is an age-old debate.
One section of motorcycle riders believes loud sound indeed makes riding safer.
Lots of cars and trucks do not look out for motorcycles and are involved in accidents. Motorcycle riders are obviously more affected by these crashes.
One section of riders believes no matter how much people complain, the loud noise keeps them safe. Car and truck drivers notice them for sure now.
So, they go out of their way to make their motorcycle louder.
The other end of the argument is loud noise does not make a difference.
Besides, motorcycle riders can use their horns. They can honk anytime they see other vehicles closing in on them.
In addition, studies suggest that loud exhausts do not have much impact on accidents. In fact, even the noisiest motorcycles tested can hardly be heard inside the car.
What do I think?
I am not a fan.
Let’s be honest. The riders who install loud aftermarket pipes do it for the thrill. And claim it for safety (a load of BS).
Listen, even if you secretly think loud pipes do save lives, don’t go sprouting that nonsense to others. I certainly am gonna judge you.
#26. Riding in blindspots
Another driver’s blind spot is your danger-spot (I wanna say more but don’t want to go too morbid).
Be aware of other vehicle blind spots while riding. Especially larger vehicles like trucks and buses.
These blind spots can be when you are overtaking, lane splitting, turning, and even slowing or stopping.
#27. Ego speeding
Have you ever ego lifted in the gym and regretted it the next day because of immense back pain?
Ego speeding isn’t much different. But the only thing: it can be much worse.
Speeding is fine (it would be hypocritical if I said no). But speeding beyond the limits you are comfortable with or beyond what you are in control of is dangerous.
Especially if you are a beginner. The allure to speed up is high. And when you see other bike riders or even cars buzzing past you, your fragile ego wants to show them what a sexy speedster you are.
But curb that thought. You ain’t a speedster (much less sexy). And stick to your lane. The extra 10 mph will do a lot more harm to you than you can even imagine.
Now we would like to hear from you
There you have it: 27 motorcycle riding mistakes to avoid.
Now we would like to hear what mistakes did we miss? And what mistake do you relate to the most?
Either way, let us know by leaving a quick comment below.