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.

New Rider

New rider engine layouts: V-twins

New rider engine layouts: V-twins

The V-twin engine has a long and noble history in motorcycling as it was adopted early on by manufacturers like Harley and Indian because it allowed two cylinders to be bolted into the narrow,...

Properly fitting a set of leathers

Properly fitting a set of leathers

A set of leathers is a major investment, so it’s important that they fit you well. Although leathers will give a little bit over time, they aren’t as flexible as textile garments, so the makers cut...

When to change your helmet

When to change your helmet

Q. My wife has recently completed her CBT course and was told that “cheap helmets have a shelf life of around two years, with more expensive ones having a shelf life of around five years, after which...

How to know it's time to change your tyres

How to know it's time to change your tyres

Q. I am on a very tight budget as a poor student (bloody tuition fees), so I can’t afford to change my tyres until I absolutely have to. Save cash on motorcycle tyres Apart from a lack of tread, what...

How to tie a bike down on a ferry

How to tie a bike down on a ferry

Q. I’m taking my bike over to Spain next month and I wondered what’s the best way to tether the bike with the ratchet straps I have just purchased. I have a centrestand-free Kawasaki ZRX1200S and I...

Why are my ZX-6R's lights blowing?

Why are my ZX-6R's lights blowing?

Q. I own a 2004 Kawasaki ZX-6R. When I go out with my lights on, it blows the stop/tail fuse within a mile or so. If I leave the lights off, I can ride all day with no problems. I changed the bulbs...

Securing your bike on a ferry

Securing your bike on a ferry

If you are heading abroad on the ferries it’s important that you are able to tether your bike down properly in the hold in case of rough weather. Park it so it is almost leaning against the deck wall...

New rider engine layouts: Inline fours

New rider engine layouts: Inline fours

The inline four-cylinder engine is the most popular layout for bikes because it combines high performance with relatively low cost. First made popular by Honda in 1970s, after they’d gained experience...

Advice: Why have my tyres worn so quickly?

Advice: Why have my tyres worn so quickly?

Why have my tyres worn so quickly? Q. I’ve been using the same make and model of tyres on my bike for a few sets now, but the last pair seemed to have worn faster than before. Both the front and the...

Advice: Are my Fazer's brake discs at fault?

Advice: Are my Fazer's brake discs at fault?

Are my Fazer's discs at fault? Q. My recently acquired Yamaha FZS600 is great but for the high-pitched “scraping” whine from the front wheel. The dealer tells me it's the front discs and says all...

Position yourself correctly

Position yourself correctly

Getting yourself in the right position in the lane of the road you are travelling on is a vital skill that keeps you safe and lets you make good progress. The greatest risk to you is other road users,...

How do you know your tyres are warmed up?

How do you know your tyres are warmed up?

With your contact on terra firma reliant on two hand-sized patches of rubber it’s hard to know when your bedded-in tyres are up to operating temperature, but there are a couple of factors that will...

Will o2 sensor eliminator cure GSR600 stalling?

Will o2 sensor eliminator cure GSR600 stalling?

I have only been riding a short length of time, and the last couple of times that I took my bike (Suzuki GSR600) out I found that it stalled when I was travelling at relatively low speed when changing...

Will changing spark plugs cure a misfire?

Will changing spark plugs cure a misfire?

Q. My Ducati 900SS has a misfire which starts after I have ridden a few miles. Will changing the plugs sort it out? George Booth, email   A. A misfire is either related to the fuelling or the...

How to get better mileage on a rear tyre

How to get better mileage on a rear tyre

Q. I have a Harley XR1200X with Dunlop Qualifier tyres that I am very pleased with. The rear is getting close to the end of its life at 2200 miles. Save cash on motorcycle products If I fitted a...

How to tell when your tyres need replacing

How to tell when your tyres need replacing

The obvious visual sign that your tyres are worn are when the tread becomes so shallow that tread wear indicators, which are small raised areas at the bottom of the main tread grooves, have reached...

How to fit earplugs

How to fit earplugs

Part of the attraction of riding a bike is being in touch with the elements around you, not cut off in a little steel box. But one of those elements, wind noise, can be distracting and damage your...

How do I fix CB750's malfunctioning neutral light?

How do I fix CB750's malfunctioning neutral light?

Q. The neutral light is on the blink on my 1996 Honda CB750 F2, which means I have to pull the clutch in to start. Save cash on motorcycle products Where is the switch? I want to get this fixed. John...

What's causing battery drain?

What's causing battery drain?

Q. I have all sorts of electrical problems with my bike. When the lights are on the battery seems to lose charge even when the engine is running. Anon   A. You don't say what happens with the...

Best tyres for a hot track day

Best tyres for a hot track day

Q. I recently highsided a Ducati Monster S4RS on a set of Bridgestone BT016s at the Salzburgring in Austria. The local expert (superbike racer) looked at the tyres and thought they looked overheated.

Can I use a 2010 R1 rear shock on a 2007 R1?

Can I use a 2010 R1 rear shock on a 2007 R1?

Q. Any chance you could give me the standard settings for the rear shock on a 2009/10 Yamaha R1 I’ve had this shock recommended to put onto my 07/08 model. Steve Cope, MCN forums   A. When you...

New rider: what was that noise?

New rider: what was that noise?

When you get your first big bike, it can take some time to get used to all the mechanical noises that it makes, and they can seem quite worrying at first. If you're on a tight budget and your new bike...

What's engine braking and how does it differ?

What's engine braking and how does it differ?

Engine braking can be a useful tool to riding smoothly when you first start out, or it can get you into a bit of trouble if you don't pay attention to the gear you're in. It occurs when you shut the...

My speedo can't cope with my turbo!

My speedo can't cope with my turbo!

Q. About one year ago I fitted a nice little turbo to my first generation Suzuki 1200 Bandit. Save cash on motorcycle products Now, I've covered about 7000 miles (3000 of them in 10 days around...

Can I service my R1200RT's throttle at home?

Can I service my R1200RT's throttle at home?

Q. I have a 2005 BMW R1200RT which I have started to service myself; I have found this to be very straightforward, however I am not sure about the throttle body/cable adjustment/synchronisation. Save...

New bike dos and don'ts

New bike dos and don'ts

When you've got your first bike there are a few add-on dos and don'ts. Do consider fitting a hugger. It will keep the back of your bike cleaner and looks neat. Don't just fit any old loud pipe. Quite...

Product review: Abus Granit Extreme Chain

Product review: Abus Granit Extreme Chain

Abus Granit Extreme Chain 37-1.1m-12mm, £199 Time used: Five years What's good? Words can't describe the lack of care I have lavished on this faithful friend. Save £££s on motorcycle locks But it's...

Can I change FireBlade front wheel size?

Can I change FireBlade front wheel size?

Q. Not sure if you've ever been asked this before, but I want to get some decent modern rubber on my ageing CBR900RR FireBlade. Is there a way I can go about putting a 17-inch wheel on the front to...

How best to scrub in new tyres

How best to scrub in new tyres

Q. I'd just got a set of new tyres fitted and was taking things as easy as I could when the rear just slipped away so fast and without warning, I wanted to talk to someone at the importer to better...

How do sintered brake pads differ from standard?

How do sintered brake pads differ from standard?

BAZX6R: I have just replaced my front brake pads on my J2 Ninja ZX-6R. I changed them for some EBC double H sintered, they do as I was told ­- stop the bike a lot better and do take some getting...

Helmet review: Shoei XR-1100

Helmet review: Shoei XR-1100

Shoei XR-1100 helmet, £299 (plain colours), £379 (graphics) Miles covered/time: 18,000/nine months What’s good? The sales assistant’s golden rule for buying a crash helmet is: If you’ve a ten-bob head...

How to fix broken electronic screen

How to fix broken electronic screen

Q. I have a 1999 BMW R1100RT with an electric screen. The screen gets stuck in its highest position every now and again, but it sorts itself out each time. Unfortunately it has happened again and is...

Could my XJ900’s tyres be causing a shimmy?

Could my XJ900’s tyres be causing a shimmy?

Q. I ride a 1993 Yamaha XJ900 with about 24k miles on the clock. I had new Avon tyres fitted at the start of the year and have covered about 2500 miles since. During the past month I have noticed a...

How to check for warped discs

How to check for warped discs

Q. When I brake quite hard between 80-40mph on my CBR600FS I feel a pulsing up to the brake lever. Save £££s on motorcycle brakes I have checked the discs they don't seem to be warped and I have new...

Best tyres for a 4000-mile Alpine tour

Best tyres for a 4000-mile Alpine tour

I'm doing a 4000-mile tour round central Europe in August and I need a new set of rubber before I go. What should I use on my Bandit? It will be a mix between motorways and Alpine roads and will last...

Does ZXR suspension need an overhaul?

Does ZXR suspension need an overhaul?

Q. I've just got a very keenly priced ZXR750 dating from the early ’90s but the handling seems very choppy no matter what I do to the rear suspension. Save cash on motorcycle suspension I didn't get...