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

Can I get new wheels under warranty?

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...

Adjusting to the bike riding experience

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...

Fizing a seized lock

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...

Remember to SORN your bike

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...

How to extract a GT550’s rear shocks

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...

Correct chain tension for a GS500

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...

How do I know my brake pads will suit my discs?

How do I know my brake pads will suit my discs?

I would like to fit Ferodo Sintergrip road ST HH brake pads to my 2000 Yamaha R6. But Ferodo say the discs must be stainless steel or cast iron for their pads to be suitable. I have emailed Yamaha UK,...

Troubleshooting: Why won't my 2002 Thunderbird go?

Troubleshooting: Why won't my 2002 Thunderbird go?

GCollins: I have a 2002 Triumph Thunderbird with 17,000 miles on it and in good condition. Lately the engine has started to fade and then cut out, this happens after about 30 miles often after a stop...

Shaft-drive bikes vs chain-driven bikes

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...

Steering dampers can help on bumpy roads

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...

How to clean a Speedfight head and barrel

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.

Diagnose a cush drive fault

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...

How to extract a seized front wheel spindle

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...

Why don't my VFR’s idiot lights work?

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...

Is ride height making my bike steer slower?

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...

Best tyres for a BMW K1300GT

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...

Tyres that inspire confidence...

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...

Indicator bulbs: handy tips

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,...

How to diagnose clutch cable problem

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...

Will crash bars fit my bike?

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...

Road positioning is more important on a bike

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,...

Get your mates to watch you ride

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

New rider: filling up when sitting on your bike

New rider: filling up when sitting on your bike

Q. Is it against the law to sit on your bike when refuelling? According to a Tesco’s cashier that’s the case. They wouldn’t start the pump until I got off the bike. Sam Fletcher, email A. It’s not...

Best first bike for a 50-mile commute

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...

Product advice: How to check your alarm's not draining your battery

Product advice: How to check your alarm's not draining your battery

How do I test for battery drain when my bike’s not in use? I think my battery's causing this. Deanipops, MCN forums  You need an ammeter or multimeter set on amps. Take the negative lead off the...

Product advice: What's causing debris in RS125 gearbox?

Product advice: What's causing debris in RS125 gearbox?

I’ve drained the oil out of my Aprilia RS125’s broken gearbox this afternoon and once I removed the drain plug I noticed small cylinder-shaped bits of metal stuck to the inside of the plug. Any ideas...

Product advice: How to get better Busa bulbs

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...

Boot review: Alpinestars Tech 2

Boot review: Alpinestars Tech 2

Alpinestars Tech 2 boots, £159.99 Miles covered/time: 5000/two years What’s good? They might not be exactly the right thing to where on a road bike buy hey, I think they look pretty cool. Save £££s...

Suspension set-up guide for Honda CBR600F

Suspension set-up guide for Honda CBR600F

What suspension settings are best for solo riding on a CBR600F, 2002 model? I weigh 88kg in full riding kit and ride on the road with the odd track day. I also carry a pillion and luggage a couple of...

Suzuki GSX-R750 fuel pump fault

Suzuki GSX-R750 fuel pump fault

Q. At the moment my Suzuki GSX-R750 K3 will rev through to redline without issue in first, but only to 8000rpm in any other gear if I give it a handful. If I feather the throttle as I accelerate I can...

VFR reg/rec fault? It could be your chain

VFR reg/rec fault? It could be your chain

Q. In a recent issue of MCN in the top ten most reliable motorcycle section relating to the Honda VFR800FI, you mention a rectifier problem. I have a 1999 VFR800FI and I have noticed for some time now...

Tyre advice: Are intermediate tyres worth it?

Tyre advice: Are intermediate tyres worth it?

Q. I use my Fireblade mainly on the track and was thinking of getting sets of intermediate and wet tyres to go with my 'dry' track rubber. Save cash on motorcycle tyres Would you advise getting the...

How to clean titanium exhaust pipes

How to clean titanium exhaust pipes

Every wondered what the experts say is the best method of cleaning your titanium pipes? Save £££s on motorcycle cleaners Quill exhausts reckon: “Give them a good wipe down with thinners, then spray...

Want to be a suspension expert?

Want to be a suspension expert?

Always found yourself put off by the seemingly black art of suspension adjustment? Or do you sometimes make colossal errors of judgement and screw up your settings because you forgot to take a note of...

The best tyres for a 12-year-old Fireblade

The best tyres for a 12-year-old Fireblade

Q. I own a 1998 Honda CBR900RRW FireBlade which needs new tyres. Which would be best for road riding and one or two trackdays in the novice group, as my first ever track day is at Croft in May? Kurt...

New Rider: What to do if your bike stops but has fuel

New Rider: What to do if your bike stops but has fuel

You are out on your first touring holiday having diligently loaded up your bike with all the stuff you think you’ll need, packing a tankbag to the gunnels with maps, spare gloves, waterproofs, travel...