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.

  • What are the yellow dots on tyres?

    22 March 2011

    What are the yellow dots on tyres?

    I was browsing websites looking for info regarding those red and yellow dots on the tyre sidewalls and could have sworn I'd seen an MCN feature about them being factory balance markings and where they...

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  • One-armed rider seeks braking solution

    22 March 2011

    One-armed rider seeks braking solution

    Q. I have a paralysed right arm and ride a 1999 Honda Hornet 600 with all the controls fitted to the left side handlebar. At the moment I use an ISR clutch master cylinder that I have connected the...

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  • Best tyres for a KTM SMT

    16 February 2011 by MCN

    Best tyres for a KTM SMT

    Q. I've got a KTM SMT 990. Can you suggest a set of sticky tyres for it? The stickier the better, and I'm not bothered about tyre life as I only go out for 50-60 mile blasts. Your help would be much...

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  • Will charger hurt my Rocket III’s battery?

    16 February 2011 by MCN

    Will charger hurt my Rocket III’s battery?

    Q. My Triumph Rocket III is fitted with an alarm and clock and I was wondering whether should I put an Optimate on after every ride, even though it’s generally only left for 12 hours? Is it worth it...

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  • My Kawasaki ZZ-R600 won’t tick over

    16 February 2011 by MCN

    My Kawasaki ZZ-R600 won’t tick over

    Q. My 2000 Kawasaki ZZ-R600’s idle is all over the place and it’s cutting out at speed, too. I’ve tried to adjust the tickover using the screw, but it’s seized solid, so I’ve had to do it with the...

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  • The best off-road tyres

    07 February 2011 by MCN

    The best off-road tyres

    Q. I own a Kawasaki KMX200 and I’m looking for a set of road-legal off-road tyres with the emphasis on their dirt performance. I've spent ages surfing the web but can’t find any that fit the bill. The...

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  • Yamaha R1 is skipping second gear

    07 February 2011 by MCN

    Yamaha R1 is skipping second gear

    Q. I’ve just bought a 2002 Yamaha R1 and the gear selection isn’t brilliant, with second gear skipping at 8000rpm. The fork seals are starting to leak too… Gordon Harrison, email   A. Oh dear, it...

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  • Is my ZX-7R suffering from carb icing?

    07 February 2011 by MCN

    Is my ZX-7R suffering from carb icing?

    Q. My Kawasaki ZX-7R P4 has an intermittent running problem that has me stumped. On cold mornings it will start fine, run fine for about five or 10 minutes then sometimes it will stutter and feel like...

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  • Will new bar ends affect handling?

    31 January 2011 by MCN

    Will new bar ends affect handling?

    Q. I have a Kawasaki ZX-7R and I’ve just fitted new bar ends. They weigh a lot less than original ones and I’m wondering whether this will affect the handing of my bike? They look better, but are they...

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  • MCN video guide: How to get your knee down

    28 January 2011 by James Keen

    MCN video guide: How to get your knee down

    In the second of our video guides, MCN's senior road tester Michael Neeves shows us his technique for getting your knee down. MCN video guide: How to wheelie As Neeves explains in the guide,...

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  • When should I change my tyres?

    25 January 2011 by Marc Abbott

    When should I change my tyres?

    I’ve been told that the legal minimum tread limit is 1mm. Should I let the tread go this low or should I change the tyre sooner? I don’t race my bike, it's only used on A and B-roads with very little...

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  • Why won’t Aprilia SR50 start well when hot?

    25 January 2011 by Marc Abbott

    Why won’t Aprilia SR50 start well when hot?

    My nipper has a fuel-injected Aprila SR50 Ditech. When it runs it has a really good little engine and will fly along at 35mph all day. The trouble is, it’s an absolute pig to start hot or cold. My...

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  • Is my Bandit 600’s fuel tap faulty?

    25 January 2011 by Marc Abbott

    Is my Bandit 600’s fuel tap faulty?

    I have a 2000 Suzuki Bandit 600 and when I have the fuel tap in the ‘on’ position it starts to run poorly, as though it isn’t getting enough fuel. But when I put the fuel tap to the ‘prime’ position...

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  • Best sports touring tyres for a GSX-R1000

    18 January 2011 by MCN

    Best sports touring tyres for a GSX-R1000

    Q. I wonder if you can give me some advice on the best tyres to use on a GSX-R1000 K7 for touring. I plan on riding my K7 alone to a few MotoGPs in 2011 around Europe, starting from Yarm in...

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  • ZZR struggles to start from cold

    18 January 2011 by MCN

    ZZR struggles to start from cold

    Q. I have a Kawasaki ZZR600 which is still soldiering on, but it is getting harder and harder to start on cold mornings. The battery is pretty new, but there’s not much of a spark at the plugs. I know...

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  • Why can't I change gear?

    18 January 2011 by MCN

    Why can't I change gear?

    Q. I have a 1979 Kawasaki KZ400 that I use for travelling between college and home; it's in very good condition and has only done 4500 miles. The problem is that shifting into second gear is very...

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  • Best tyres for a GSX-R1000 K3

    11 January 2011 by MCN

    Best tyres for a GSX-R1000 K3

    Q. I have a Suzuki 2003 GSX-R1000 and the tyres I’m stuck between are the Bridgestone BT023s and the Metzeler Sportec M5s. Save cash on motorcycle tyres Please could you shed some light on the best...

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  • Bandit’s speedo goes blank

    11 January 2011 by MCN

    Bandit’s speedo goes blank

    Q. I have a Suzuki Bandit 1250SA which is just coming up for three years old. It has developed an intermittent problem in that the speedo can go blank, though it is still backlit, and the rev counter...

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  • BN125 won't start from cold

    11 January 2011 by MCN

    BN125 won't start from cold

    Q. I have a Kawasaki BN125 that just does not want to start from cold at all. When it does fire up, the moment you take the choke off it stalls, and you have to be so, so gentle on the throttle until...

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  • Best road tyres for a BMW F800GS

    05 January 2011 by MCN

    Best road tyres for a BMW F800GS

    Q. A few months ago I bought a 2008 BMW F800GS with Metzeler Tourance tyres already fitted. They still had some life left, so I've been running around on them and they're OK, but I'm looking for...

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  • Where can I get Hayabusa luggage?

    05 January 2011 by MCN

    Where can I get Hayabusa luggage?

    Q. I’ve looked far and wide but can’t find any sort of hard luggage for my Suzuki 1300 Hayabusa. I live in Germany, and no one can help, not even Suzuki Germany. Stephen Poulton, email   A. This...

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  • Why are my Bandit’s spark plugs black?

    05 January 2011 by MCN

    Why are my Bandit’s spark plugs black?

    Q. I recently got a 1999 Suzuki Bandit GSF600S that was running great until about two weeks after I bought it. There was no spark coming off them, so I went out and replaced all four plugs and the...

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  • Is there a cheap way to repair a tyre?

    29 December 2010 by Marc Abbott

    Is there a cheap way to repair a tyre?

    I caught a financial cold recently when I picked up a puncture in a nearly-new Z-rated tyre and I had to get it replaced. Is there any guaranteed way I can avoid a costly bill if I get another...

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  • Is it safe to disconnect my battery?

    28 December 2010 by Marc Abbott

    Is it safe to disconnect my battery?

    My friend told me that I cannot disconnect the old battery completely on my Suzuki GSX1400 as this means I will “lose the memory in the ECU”. Is this correct? Walter Calne, email   The moment...

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  • Can I get a custom-made screen?

    27 December 2010 by Marc Abbott

    Can I get a custom-made screen?

    I have a 2007 Yamaha FJR1300A, which is a great bike, but I have an issue with the screen. When it’s down I just get buffeted to pieces, and if I put the screen up the wind just pushes my head forward...

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  • Why do I keep getting punctures?

    21 December 2010 by MCN

    Why do I keep getting punctures?

    Q. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I keep picking up punctures in my rear tyres. I’ve had four in the last 2000 miles and it’s getting expensive to pay for repair or replacement. Save £££s on...

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  • Can I ditch my lambda sensor?

    21 December 2010 by MCN

    Can I ditch my lambda sensor?

    Q. I want to change the exhaust on my 2009 Yamaha XJ6. I'm happy to get a full system less the cat as I'm told it will reduce weight and increase horsepower. Some systems that I've looked at state...

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  • What's causing GSX-R1000 gearbox issue?

    13 December 2010 by MCN

    What's causing GSX-R1000 gearbox issue?

    Q. I have a problem with my GSX-R1000 K5 selecting neutral when the engine is warmed over 75°C. All the gears work OK, it’s just when clicking into neutral that it won't come out of gear, without some...

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  • Know your bike's oil consumption

    10 December 2010 by MCN

    Know your bike's oil consumption

    Just because a bike uses oil doesn’t necessarily mean that it has a problem. For a long time now, bike makers have designed engines with under piston oil feeds. These are there to cool down the piston...

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  • How can I fix R6's ignition transponder?

    07 December 2010 by MCN

    How can I fix R6's ignition transponder?

    Q. I recently bought a 2003 Yamaha R6. It was working all right for a week, but one evening it didn't start. On pressing the starter switch I could hear the starter sound but the bike failed to...

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  • New rider: Avoiding punctures

    03 December 2010 by Chris Dabbs

    New rider: Avoiding punctures

    There are a few things you can do to combat the risk of punctures. First of all, try to avoid the areas of the road that debris collects in. That tends to be between opposing lanes, around traffic...

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