An Anti-Guide to Motorcycle Riding

After watching a rather disturbing video yesterday, I thought that today’s larger article should deal with these matters. It’s really hard for me to decide whether it will be an editorial or a how-not-to guide, but either way, it must be written. And if those who read it learn anything, or pass the info on, maybe the world will be a better place.
I know riding a motorcycle is one of the things that come with a particularly strong and mesmerizing attraction, and honestly, there’s nothing wrong with this. There are many other cool things people do and that are even more enthralling, more dangerous, and involve taking more risks than riding. But every single one of these things has its own set of rules, of dos and don’ts. The really nasty thing about riding is that it doesn’t look THAT dangerous to some.

I am speaking about people whose children or grandchildren, young, inexperienced relatives, or friends say that’d like to ride. And they get to ride, even though those who are supposed to be more experienced riders, risk-aware motorcyclists are not providing them with proper explanations of how things work, a safe environment, or safety gear. They just tell the rookies to be careful…
Accidents are waiting to happen and your backyard is not as safe as you think

One of the first rules of motorcycling is that nobody is ever 100% safe, regardless of how old, well-trained, or aware a rider might be. Accepting this as a rule of the thumb is probably the first step towards safety… even though silly things are being planned.

Some fellows falsely believe that only the open roads are dangerous and one needs to be riding fast and recklessly in order to be involved in an accident and become injured. To them the backyard, with all its familiar looks and feeling, seems to be a haven where nothing wrong can happen, but alas, they are so wrong.

Remember what I told you about the possible results of falsely feeling too secure? The same thing is at work here. Encouraged by the homely atmosphere and unfounded claims that nothing can go wrong, people are willingly taking unnecessary risks, and some of them are sometimes paying a very dear price.

The biggest mistakes

Okay, so your girlfriend, niece, your neighbor’s son, or even your aunt wants to ride. It’s fine: it’s never too early or too late to swing a leg over a bike, as there’s no right or wrong time for having fun. However, the less experienced the wannabe riders are, the more careful and cautious you should be. After all, you’re the “riding authority,” so you’re responsible for them.


Funny thing, some of these fellows can barely ride a bicycle, so having them aboard a motorbike is doomed to fail straight from the beginning in 99% of the cases. When deciding to let someone ride a motorcycle for the first time, it really pays off to know one or two things about their experience on two wheels. Even though some might claim that they’ve ridden before, if you haven’t seen them yourself or have 100% reliable witnesses (knowledge) about this, skepticism is the only way to go.

It’s only for a short ride!

Frankly, I don’t handle over my bike to anyone who wants “just a short ride around the block.” Actually, there are only a handful of people whom I would allow behind the bars of my bike. They are experienced riders and I know that they are aware of all that comes with getting on a new bike.

To people who own small pit bikes and believe that anyone can ride them I’d also say that no, not anyone can ride them, at least not without crashing them. It makes little difference whether guys are up for a ride around the backyard or around the town: if they are inexperienced and not acquainted with motorcycling, the length of the ride has no connection with the risks.


When dealing with people who have limited or no motorcycle experience at all, using your backyard or similar places for having them throttling away is a very stupid idea. Rookies are way more comfortable and doubtlessly safer when their first ride takes place in an open ground area.

If you’re willing to teach someone how to ride, you’d normally want as few obstacles as possible in his or her way, especially whiskey throttling and panic are quite common during the first rides. Parked cars, agricultural implements, curbs, dogs and other pets, trees, small pointy fences (and the list can go on for quite some time) are definitely not the kind of obstacles you or your “student” would like to have to deal with.

If you two decided it was learning time, do it in the most proper place you can get to, in case attending real motorcycling lessons is not envisaged. The fewer the obstacles and distractions, the more focus the rider can muster, and this is a good thing.

Small bikes

It’s funny how people seem to disregard small dirt bikes and believe that just because of their dimensions they are also safe. For crying out loud, there was a 125cc class in the Motorcycle Grand Prix world championship until a few years ago! Worldwide motocross competitions use 125ers and kids preparing to step up into the lower competition tiers are riding 85cc or 100cc bikes fast as hell, jumping dozens of feet across obstacles and you believe that these motorcycles are harmless? How silly is that?

Of course, I happened to meet people who used to laugh when they heard about how a 350cc two-stroke machine felt “brutal.” When they stepped off the bike, they were no longer laughing and their knees were shaking. They had learned that almost any bike can be thrilling.

Now, most of the fellows we can see crashing on the internet appear to ride dirt bikes. This stands for large rear sprockets, awesome torque straight from the low revs, and if positioned wrongly on the bike, instant wheelies. Rings a bell?

No prep needed, just be careful!

Yeah, right, as if anyone is getting aboard a bike desperately willing to crash and get hurt. Everybody is trying to be careful, but rookies don’t know what to expect and are much more easily taken by surprise when things are not working as planned.

Instead of offering such a worthless piece of advice, more experienced riders should better take their time and explain to the rookies how things work aboard bike. Most of the guys have no clue on how a bike reacts when twisting the throttle a bit too hard or how weight shifts when in the saddle, under braking or during acceleration.

Such explanations and possibly brief visual demonstrations are a valuable addition to their brief “training.” Even though to some such preparations may seem superfluous, they are in fact a very important safety measure, as important as explaining the riding basics to a first-time passenger. Make sure you also check the comprehensive guide on How to Ride with a Passenger.

Teaching the rookies to roll off the throttle at the slightest sign of danger or feeling of losing control is the most important lesson. Okay, they might stall the engine and drop the bike, but they will fall at almost zero mph, instead of hitting the metal fence in full throttle as they pick up more and more speed.

Of course, if you have them aboard a beginner’s bike, you can always use the throttle limiters most of these machines are equipped with. If the bike is not equipped with such safety measures, one or two words about pulling the clutch before things spiral out of control are also a great idea that can prevent serious troubles.

Riding gear, the final frontier

Finally, most of the chaps seen getting hurt to various degrees in online videos are not wearing ANY sort of protective gear, not even a helmet. It is indeed disheartening to watch how more experienced, but dumb riders allow rookies to get on a motorbike without a helmet, the basic, most elementary safety gear one can think of.

Both rookies and the chaps whose bikes they’re riding probably believe the same false truth that nothing can happen, as they’re in their very own driveway, back alley, or yard. The cold reality will prove many of them wrong the first time occasion arises. Some get away with a good scare and minor bruises, but not all of them are lucky. A quick search on websites such as Liveleak or YouTube will reveal just how hard some of these crashes can be. Funny thing, how these videos keep popping up, as if nobody ever learns anything.
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