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.

  • Best tyre for a Suzuki Bandit 1250

    12 August 2009 by MCN

    Best tyre for a Suzuki Bandit 1250

    Reader Mike Lecras came to us looking for the perfect combination touring and sporty rubber for his 2009 Suzuki GSF1250 GT. He was running the standard Dunlop D218N 180/55 V17 at the rear. MCN's...

    Read more ...
  • Tyres FAQ: Why do tyres have wire in them?

    12 August 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Tyres FAQ: Why do tyres have wire in them?

    The high-tensile steel wire is also known as the bead and runs circumferationally around the inner part of the tyre. Its job is to anchor the tyre on the rim so that the tyre can't creep on the wheel...

    Read more ...
  • Kit: How to buy winter motorcycle boots

    05 August 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Kit: How to buy winter motorcycle boots

    Think about what sort of riding you'll be doing, and when you¹ll be doing it. If you'll be commuting throughout the year, there will be days when you rue the purchase of those vented summer race...

    Read more ...
  • Kit: How to buy summer motorcycle boots

    05 August 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Kit: How to buy summer motorcycle boots

    Whether it's a race-spec boot or a simple touring boot for summer rides or commuting, the theory behind making sure it fits is the same. The golden rule is to make sure you visit a dealer to try on as...

    Read more ...
  • Tyres FAQ: Why do tyres have air in them?

    05 August 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Tyres FAQ: Why do tyres have air in them?

    A tyre has to deform slightly at the point of contact with the road for instance in, order to achieve any change of direction or speed and it has to do this in a progressive and predictable way in all...

    Read more ...
  • Tyres FAQ: Why are tyres black?

    05 August 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Tyres FAQ: Why are tyres black?

    There isn't any natural rubber in a tyre's construction. But there are about 200 raw materials from man-made rubbers, reinforcing fillers, rayon, nylon, all sorts of additives and aramid...

    Read more ...
  • Kit: How to buy motorcycle gloves

    31 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Kit: How to buy motorcycle gloves

    You hands are the most vital parts of your body for riding a bike ­ they control your speed, your upper body balance and are unfortunately the first things to hit the deck in a crash on almost every...

    Read more ...
  • Basic Skills: How to deal with heavy rain

    30 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Basic Skills: How to deal with heavy rain

    As our so-called ‘Barbeque Summer’ has been replaced by another deluge it’s well worth knowing the correct procedure for dealing with standing water on two wheels. If you hit a patch of standing water...

    Read more ...
  • Basic Skills: bike controls explained

    29 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Basic Skills: bike controls explained

    Anyone who's ridden a bicycle will be familiar with one of the controls of a motorcycle. The front brake lever is mounted on the right handlebar and operates the brake caliper(s) mounted on the...

    Read more ...
  • How to change your tyres at home

    29 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    How to change your tyres at home

    Tyre changes are quite easy to do at home if you have the right tools. A purpose-made bead breaker will get the tyre off the rim, and once the rubber is in the 'well' of the wheel, good quality tyre...

    Read more ...
  • The importance of balancing your wheel

    29 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    The importance of balancing your wheel

    If you've got some harsh vibrations or the steering feels loose or wobbly then your front wheel could be out of balance. Those vibes will stress wheel bearings, make the tyre run hotter and could...

    Read more ...
  • Tyre advice: Running different tyres

    29 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Tyre advice: Running different tyres

    Q. I ride a 1997 VFR750, a superb bike. On the front I have a perfect Bridgestone Battlax BT56 with lots of tread left. My question is, can I replace the worn out BT57 with a new Bridgestone Battlax...

    Read more ...
  • Suspension advice: Replacing fork seals

    22 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Suspension advice: Replacing fork seals

    The first piece of advice for replacing for seals would be to always get a workshop manual of some description when stripping major components down, if only for the torque settings. Compare and buy...

    Read more ...
  • Tyre advice: Good tyres for light trail use

    22 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Tyre advice: Good tyres for light trail use

    Q. I have a 2009 Triumph Tiger 1050, which I am delighted with. I am well aware it is not a full-blown off-road motorcycle, but I would like to improve the grip on light trail use, without sacrificing...

    Read more ...
  • Top 5 125cc sports bikes

    17 July 2009 by James Keen

    Top 5 125cc sports bikes

    If you're in the market for a sporty learner bike, look no further. Thinking of trading in? Sell your bike with MCN for £9.99 Sports 125s are the stuff of teenage dreams, the kind of...

    Read more ...
  • FAQ: Common myth about speed traps

    17 July 2009 by MCN

    One of the common myths about speed traps is that the police officers have to wear fluorescent clothing and be on show. The facts are that police officers do not have to wear specific clothing when engaged in roads policing or provide any other warning of their presence. Assuming they caution you correctly at the road side you just have to take the points and fine.  Do you have any...

    Read more ...
  • FAQ: How to get oil off your hands

    17 July 2009 by MCN

    If you're trying to get oil off you hands properly after your first go at home maintenance, but you haven't got a decent hand cleanser around, use washing up liquid and put a dab of washing powder in your hands. Further reading: Motorcycle FAQ

    Read more ...
  • What to do if you lose your provisional license

    17 July 2009 by MCN

    If you have lost your provisional licence, don't worry too much - you are entitled to continue riding while waiting for a duplicate licence. Entitlement to ride or drive runs from the date the first licence was issued, and isn't dependant on you having the actual licence in your possession. The new licence should arrive within 15 working days of the application being received at...

    Read more ...
  • New test fiasco

    17 July 2009 by Kev

    What an absolute disgrace. Never able to book module 1. Weeks and weeks of waiting, no complaints department for the DSA. Though it would be the busiest line in the place. On one occassion they e-mailed a test slot on the very day of the test itself! E-mail recieved at 09:39 test at 10:16 Something has to be done. Maybe blockade the MPTC's nationally or anything to let these wasters know we've had...

    Read more ...
  • How to adjust sportsbike suspension

    17 July 2009 by Rupert Paul

    How to adjust sportsbike suspension

    “Hell, it’s good enough as it is. Why should I take the chance of messing it up?” Well, here’s a reason: it makes your bike feel nicer. Usually much nicer. And you don’t have to be some knee-dragging...

    Read more ...
  • How to make sure your tyres are legal

    16 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    How to make sure your tyres are legal

    As well as inflating them correctly, the Law says that the grooves of the tread pattern must have a depth of a least 1mm throughout a continuous band measuring at least three-quarters of the breadth...

    Read more ...
  • Where to go for suspension

    16 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Where to go for suspension

    Here's a list of useful contacts in the suspension world. Whether it's set-up advice, work or shock and fork components, these guys are among the country's greatest. Harris Performance, Hertford.

    Read more ...
  • USD versus conventional forks

    16 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    USD versus conventional forks

    Suspension-wise, given springs and dampers of equal quality, there is no difference between upside-down and conventional forks. But the fork leg is not a suspension unit, it is also a structural...

    Read more ...
  • Practical Test: module two sites

    14 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Practical Test: module two sites

    Module two of the riding test is the final hurdle between being a learner and a possessing a full bike licence. Unlike module one of the test, module two is completed on the road. It involves a road...

    Read more ...
  • Practical Test: module one test sites

    14 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Practical Test: module one test sites

    If you’ve passed your CBT and theory test you are ready to start training and sign up for your bike test.  This is now completed in two parts. Module one takes place on an off-road site and...

    Read more ...
  • The new motorcycle test is a joke

    13 July 2009 by Albert Adams

    I have finally given up trying to pass this module 1 motorcycle driving test after falling off practicing. I cannot believe that the DSA have accepted a European standard which requires learner riders to exceed the Uk 30mph basic speed limit in order to pass. Apart from my injuries sustained off road practicing I have heard about many other learner riders being injured trying to pass this...

    Read more ...
  • Fork 'pump down' explained

    10 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Fork 'pump down' explained

    Pump down, or packing, occurs when you hit a series of bumps after dialling in too much rebound damping. Because you've over-slowed the rate at which the suspension can return once it's compressed,...

    Read more ...
  • Unsprung weight explained

    10 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    Unsprung weight explained

    Sprung weight is the mass of those parts supported by the suspension. Unsprung is the rest; wheels, tyres, brakes, chain etc. Changing the unsprung weight has no direct effect on springing (as it's...

    Read more ...
  • How to repair a puncture

    10 July 2009 by Marc Abbott

    How to repair a puncture

    If you need to repair a puncture at the roadside, there are several methods you can use. There are preventative sealants out there that are designed to seal off a puncture as soon as it...

    Read more ...