New rider

Welcome the the MCN New Rider section, where we'll help you navigate your way from complete biking novice to confident beginner. If you're unsure how to begin your journey onto two wheels, the diagram below is for you.

This process diagram has been designed by TDL-LONDON, an information design consultancy.

  • Can I get new wheels under warranty?

    25 May 2010 by MCN

    Can I get new wheels under warranty?

    Q. At the weekend, while cleaning my 2010 Kawasaki GTR1400, I noticed the rear wheel was bent on the right-hand side of the rim, where you’d expect to place a tyre lever. Save £££s on motorcycle...

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  • How to set up a GSX-R's Power Commander

    25 May 2010 by MCN

    How to set up a GSX-R's Power Commander

    Q. I have owned my GSX-R1000 K2 from new and had the obligatory Power Commander, air filter and exhaust fitted soon after getting the bike. I have never had any problems with the installation of these...

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  • Adjusting to the bike riding experience

    21 May 2010 by MCN

    Adjusting to the bike riding experience

    If you are coming from four wheels to two for the first time, the differences can seem daunting. Cars deliver their responses to you through a myriad of different systems that use complicated...

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  • Fizing a seized lock

    21 May 2010 by MCN

    Turning the ignition on with your bike’s key should be such a simple action that will have you winging down the road in seconds. But what do you do if the key won’t turn? You don’t dare force it for fear of it snapping off in the lock, but you really, really need to get going NOW. You may need to add some lubrication, and a good lube is pencil lead. Rub the graphite up and down the key several...

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  • Remember to SORN your bike

    21 May 2010 by MCN

    Remember to SORN your bike

    These days there is more and more paperwork attached to owning a bike whether it's on the road or not. If you do decide to take your bike off the road you have to register it as off the road with the...

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  • How to extract a GT550’s rear shocks

    18 May 2010 by MCN

    How to extract a GT550’s rear shocks

    Q. I’ve bought myself a project bike – a 1988 Kawasaki GT550. It was completely dead but everyone’s help on the MCN forums has got it through the MoT, so firstly thanks to all. I now have a bit of a...

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  • Correct chain tension for a GS500

    18 May 2010 by MCN

    Correct chain tension for a GS500

    Q. I had a new chain fitted to my Suzuki GS500 by a bike shop and when I came to pick it up, there was 20mm of slack with the bike leaning on the sidestand. That reduced to just 1-2mm when the...

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  • Best tyres for a Honda CBR600F

    18 May 2010 by MCN

    Best tyres for a Honda CBR600F

    Q. I have a Honda CBR600F on a 54-plate which I ride only in the dry for between half or a full day, racking up 3-4000 miles a year in a mix of ‘touring’ and ‘sport’ mode. What tyre would you...

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  • How to clean your bike

    14 May 2010 by MCN

    How to clean your bike

    It’s Sunday morning. You were due to go for a ride, but the weather’s naff and you’ve got a hangover. So what are you going to do to spend some quality time with your baby? Clean the thing. Most of...

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  • Which oil for my Firestorm?

    11 May 2010 by Chris Dabbs

    Which oil for my Firestorm?

    What oil would you suggest I should use in my Honda Firestorm? Fully synthetic or semi-synthetic? The bike is a 1999 model with 14,000 miles on the clock. Martin Thomas, Salisbury   On a 14,000...

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  • Shaft-drive bikes vs chain-driven bikes

    07 May 2010 by MCN

    Shaft-drive bikes vs chain-driven bikes

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of shaft-drive bikes and chain-driven bikes? The major benefits of shaft-drive are lower maintenance and running costs, and cleanliness. Chain-drive bikes...

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  • Steering dampers can help on bumpy roads

    07 May 2010 by MCN

    Steering dampers can help on bumpy roads

    Bikes are designed to have very different handling characteristics, from slow, lazy steering and high stability on customs and out-and-out tourers, to fast steering, agile sports bikes. Those sports...

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  • Perfect tyre pressures for a loaded ZZR

    07 May 2010 by MCN

    Perfect tyre pressures for a loaded ZZR

    Q. I’m going to Germany at the end of May on a Kawasaki ZZR1100D with Givi luggage and a pillion and I’m wondering what tyre pressures I should run with the Avon Storms? I currently run 41psi front...

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  • How to clean a Speedfight head and barrel

    07 May 2010 by MCN

    How to clean a Speedfight head and barrel

    Q. I’ve just stripped down the head and barrel on my Peugeot Speedfight and the piston is coked up with black crap. What's the best way to clean it without damaging it? Fred1021, MCN forums   A.

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  • Diagnose a cush drive fault

    07 May 2010 by MCN

    Diagnose a cush drive fault

    Q. I have a 2005 Yamaha Dragstar 125 with 3000 miles on the clock and I have excessive free play in the drive system when throttling off. The engine goes from driving the bike to the bike driving the...

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  • How to extract a seized front wheel spindle

    05 May 2010 by MCN

    How to extract a seized front wheel spindle

    Assuming the spindle is seized to the bearings or the spacer between the bearings, remove the tyre, tube and rim tape then soak the wheel overnight in diesel or paraffin. If you have a stout leakproof...

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  • New rider: Learning your bike's noises

    30 April 2010 by Chris Dabbs

    New rider: Learning your bike's noises

    Bikes have a disconcerting habit of rattling at different times, and it’s hard to tell whether it’s serious, or just a sign of a certain age. If it sounds like it is coming from the clutch area when...

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  • Why don't my VFR’s idiot lights work?

    27 April 2010 by MCN

    Why don't my VFR’s idiot lights work?

    Q. The idiot lights on my Honda VFR800 have started playing up. Sometimes neutral works, and then my digital clock goes on the blink for a couple of days before coming back again. Nick Langhorn, email...

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  • Is ride height making my bike steer slower?

    27 April 2010 by MCN

    Is ride height making my bike steer slower?

    Q. I do a lot of track days but I seem to have hit a brick wall when it comes to getting round fast corners quickly. Every time I up the pace on my R6 the bike misses the apex and runs wide appearing...

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  • Best tyres for a BMW K1300GT

    27 April 2010 by MCN

    Best tyres for a BMW K1300GT

    Q. I’m looking to replace the tyres on my BMW K1300GT. The ones currently fitted have a special “UU” rating for this bike. Save cash on motorcycle tyres BMW recommend Metzeler Z6, what do you...

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  • Tyres that inspire confidence...

    20 April 2010 by MCN

    Tyres that inspire confidence...

    Q. I intend replacing my tyres in the next few weeks and would appreciate some advice. Save £££s on motorcycle tyres The tyres fitted are Continentals, which came with the bike when I bought it; but...

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  • Indicator bulbs: handy tips

    20 April 2010 by MCN

    Indicator bulbs: handy tips

    Q. I wonder what the minimum wattage is for bike indicators, if there is one? Save cash on motorcycle lighting I have bought some new winkers for my Kawasaki 400 grey import and they're 10 watts,...

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  • How to diagnose clutch cable problem

    20 April 2010 by MCN

    How to diagnose clutch cable problem

    Q. The choke lever on my 2001 Yamaha 900 Diversion will only pull about a quarter of the way open. Not being too technically minded, and before I go stripping down unnecessarily, is it most likely to...

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  • Will crash bars fit my bike?

    20 April 2010 by MCN

    Will crash bars fit my bike?

    Q. I recently bought a black '59 plate Honda XL1000VA Varadero, and regrettably dropped it yesterday whilst parking it, causing about £150 worth of damage, I have decided to have crash bars...

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  • Road positioning is more important on a bike

    19 April 2010 by MCN

    Road positioning is more important on a bike

    If you flit between using a car and a bike don’t forget that you have much more choice over where you are positioned on a bike than in a car. You need to think about where you should be on the road,...

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  • Get your mates to watch you ride

    19 April 2010 by MCN

    If you’ve got biking mates, get them to watch you ride. They’ll spot some oddities to your technique that you’re not aware of. And they’ll have a great time telling you all about it…  Get a friend into biking and win £10000 for you, and £5000 for them with the MCN 1000

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  • Best first bike for a 50-mile commute

    16 April 2010 by MCN

    Best first bike for a 50-mile commute

    Q. I’ve finally got the nerve to do my bike test, and I’m now wishing I could have been one of the happy elite to have taken my test when I was 18, and had a man shouting at me with a clipboard some...

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  • Product advice: How to get better Busa bulbs

    13 April 2010 by Marc Abbott

    Product advice: How to get better Busa bulbs

    I have a 1999 Suzuki Hayabusa and I wanted better lighting, so I changed the bulbs for 100 watt. The main beam is now less than useless no matter how I adjust it. It is just a diffused light with no...

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