Learning to Ride by Augie Augusto

This is intended to give a brief overview of information that might be useful to the beginning rider. It is in no way intended to be used as a learning manual nor is any of the information presented here to be used without supervision of an experienced rider

What you'll need...and...What you'll need to know

Protective Equipment Beginner Bike Four stroke Bike controls
Helmet/goggles (just one bike per rider) Locate
Boots XR 100 Brake: front & rear
Gloves XR 200 Clutch
Heavy pants/ Leathers DR 200 Shifter
Long sleeve jersey TT 125 Throttle
Foot pegs
optional: Gas petcock
Safe Riding Area
Chest protector Flat wide open space Choke
Knee pads Kick start
Kidney belt Kill switch
For your personal safety always wear a helmet when riding. Boots are also critical. Everything on the equipment list will be appreciated when you (of course you will) fall.

The four stroke bike is perfect for beginners. It is forgiving. Beginners usually make a lot of mistakes. A beginner can learn on a two stroke bike…it just more difficult. Some people like to do things the hard way. That's okay. Personally, the easy way works best for me.

Practice on the bike

Get on the bike and make sure that you can touch ground. This is important for confidence and control when you are learning. If people tell you it is not, ask them to get on the bike and then duct tape their feet to the pegs. Suddenly the importance of touching ground becomes very apparent. (credit for duct tape technique goes to Kim Orndoff.

Then familiarize yourself with the levers starting with the front brake on the right hand side of the handle bars. The front brake provides 75% of the bikes stopping power. When you are first learning, apply the front brake carefully. Place your hand on the grip and move it as far to the right on the grip as you can. Use your first two fingers to control the lever and the rest of your hand to hold onto the grip. Practice pulling the brake lever in with just your first two fingers. (Some people prefer to use the index and ring fingers, it is a matter of comfort.) Then locate the rear brake in front of the foot peg on the right hand side of the bike. Press down with the toe of your right boot. Practice using the front and rear brakes together and independently. Next turn your attention to the left side of the bike.

You will find the clutch lever directly opposite the front brake lever. The clutch lever is controlled by the first two fingers of your left hand, in the same manner as the front brake. Your left foot controls the shifter. It is located in front of the left foot peg. 1st gear is located by taping the shifter down. Neutral is between 1st and 2nd gear. It is most easily reached by lightly lifting up after you have tapped down into 1st gear. If you are not sure what gear you are in, pull the clutch in and tap down four or five times. That way you can be sure that you are in 1st gear. Then barely lift the shifter to find neutral. It is a small movement. You can be sure you are in neutral if (when the bike is shut off) you release the clutch and the bike rolls easily. If the engine is running, slowly release the clutch and if the bike is in neutral it will not move forward. If it is in gear, the bike will begin to move so you will need pull the clutch in, tap down and repeat the finding neutr al process. All other gears require that you put your toe under the shifter and lift up. That is why there is an extra piece of rubber on the top of your left boot. So shifting is down for 1st , then up for 2nd 3rd 4th and 5th. The higher the gear the faster you go. To go slower reverse the process. Tapping down will take you to a lower gear. Practice, practice, practice.

The throttle is the right hand grip. Twisting the throttle delivers gas to the engine. It is engaged by rolling your right hand downward. Remember the word rolling. The speed with which you roll on the throttle is directly related to increase of the speed of the motorcycle. Practice rolling on the throttle and keeping your two finders on the front brake. It is tricky, because at times you will have to reposition your hand to give the bike more gas.

The foot pegs are the balancing point for your body. They are basically in the center of the bike. Try to keep the balls of your feet on the foot pegs. (more on foot pegs way later)

The gas petcock is a device that allows gas to flow from the gas tank to the carburetor. It is a small lever that rotates to open and close the gas flow system. It can be located on either side of the engine and is attached to a tube running from the gas tank to the carburetor. Whenever the bike is going to be shut off for long periods of time (like an hour or more) the petcock is turned off. Remember to turn it on before you start the bike. There is usually enough gas in the carburetor for you to start the bike and ride 3-5 minutes before you run out of gas and drive yourself nuts trying to figure out what is wrong with the bike.

The choke is a lever controlled system on the engine that helps the bike start when the engine is cold.

The kick starter is usually located on the right side of the bike. To start the bike, open the petcock, make sure the bike is in neutral, flip the kick start lever out, place your foot on it and give it a firm smooth kick. This too requires practice.

The kill switch is located on the handle bar usually by the clutch lever. It is a small button that shuts the engine off.

Body position Practice moving from a standing position to a sitting position, slide forward and to the back of the bike Use your legs as shock absorbers. When you place your hands on the grips with your fingers in the correct position your elbows should be up, almost parallel to your shoulders. They will act as hinges as your body moves. Whether you are in a standing or sitting position your back should be curved forward. If you keep your spine straight every bump you hit will jar your back. After a while that gets tiring and painful. When your back is curved forward impact flows from your feet right through your body and out your hands. Your knees and elbows act as shock absorbers.

Find a flat wide open area to learn and practice on. The key is to build confidence in your starting, stopping and shifting skills before you hit the track or trails. When you develop good techniques your skill level develops at a much faster rate.

Time to Ride

Okay, now comes the fun part. Take the bike off the stand, make sure the gas is on and the bike is in neutral. Climb aboard. Kick start that bad boy, pull in the clutch and tap the shifter into 1st gear. Twist the throttle about ¼ to ½ open, and slowly release the clutch. The point where the bike starts to move is called the friction point. This is the place where balance between the clutch and the throttle becomes important. Too much clutch release, too little throttle and the engine will die. Too much throttle, too much clutch release and the bike will take off with a big surge. So slowly release the clutch and as the bike begins to move forward slowly roll on the throttle until a. you are going as fast as you can/want, and b. the clutch is fully released. At this point you can a. shift up to the next gear or b. practice your braking techniques. That's quite some smile on your face. Good Job!

And that's about all for lesson one.

Instructional assistance

Professor Bailey video - "The beginning how to ride 10 steps"
So California USA Instructor: Jim Gibson 909.698.9272
Rick Johnson / Mercedes Gonzalez
Tony D Motocross School
Trials Training Center can improve anyone's riding skill in a vacation setting!
Danny Walker SuperCamp "If you're not sliding..."

Look for classes/videos at local dealer or online.

Local instructors - not your boyfriend

Riding motorcycles should be FUN! Boyfriends are great. If your boyfriend wants to teach you to ride, he needs to remember to give you lots of positive reinforcement. Remember this is FUN! It is a good idea, if he is very clear in his instructions. This is not a good time to rely on female intuition. He might want to think back to the last time someone tried to teach him a new dance. He probably didn't learn all the steps in the first hour. So as long as he is smiling and enjoying his role as the teacher and you are having FUN being his student, let him teach you to ride. But if he gets the cranky face that is the signal to let someone else take over.