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

Tyres FAQ: Why are tyres black?

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...

Kit: How to buy motorcycle gloves

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...

Basic Skills: How to deal with heavy rain

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As our so-called ‘Barbeque Summer’ has been replaced by another deluge it’s well worth knowing the correct procedure for dealing with standing water on two wheels.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

Basic Skills: bike controls explained

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...

How to change your tyres at home

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...

The importance of balancing your wheel

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...

Tyre advice: Running different tyres

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...

Win a Shoei XR1000 by filling in the new rider survey

Win a Shoei XR1000 by filling in the new rider survey

If you have only recently got your bike licence. Or you are thinking about learning to ride, MCN would like to hear from you. All you have to do is fill in an online survey to let us know if you...

Can adjusting your chain affect the suspension?

Can adjusting your chain affect the suspension?

In short, yes. When the suspension is compressed to about one third, the front sprocket, swingarm pivot and rear spindle form a straight line. Compare and buy motorcycle suspension This is the...

Suspension advice: Replacing fork seals

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...

Tyre advice: Good tyres for light trail use

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...

FAQ: Common myth about speed traps

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...

FAQ: How to get oil off your hands

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

What to do if you lose your provisional license

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...

How to make sure your tyres are legal

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...

Where to go for suspension

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.

USD versus conventional forks

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...

FAQ: How to get a motorcycle on a paddock stand

FAQ: How to get a motorcycle on a paddock stand

Owning your first big bike is a fantastic feeling, but if you are nervous of lifting the rear of your bike onto the paddock stand on your own, then use the entrance of your garage to keep the bike...

Basic Skills: Taking pillions on your motorcycle

Basic Skills: Taking pillions on your motorcycle

It's great when you've passed your test and you can take friends and family out on the back, but it's not so good if they can't relax on the back and tense up, not leaning in at the right time so...

Fork 'pump down' explained

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,...

Unsprung weight explained

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...

How to repair a puncture

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...

Motorcycle Safety: Travel faster than the traffic to stay safe

Motorcycle Safety: Travel faster than the traffic to stay safe

Believe it or not, the safest way to ride through traffic is to go slightly faster than it. That way you won’t get stuck in a blind spot and the relative difference in speed between you and the cars...

Check before you buy

A good tip when you’re buying your first used bike is to always scan the paperwork to see whether the shims have been checked and take a good look at the steering head bearings as they are often insufficiently greased from the factory. Further reading: Find your ideal motorcycle

New rider: Top 5 commuter bikes

New rider: Top 5 commuter bikes

Are you new to biking and looking for affordable and comfortable work transport? You’ll be needing our guide to the top 5 used commuter bikes. Thinking of trading in? Sell your bike with MCN for...

Kit: Buying waterproofs

Kit: Buying waterproofs

There’s three key things to consider when buying waterproofs – they’re completely waterproof (obvious, but there are things to look for), they’ve quick and easy to get on and they’re...

Suspension advice: 2002 Aprilia RSV1000R: Setting the suspension for you

Suspension advice: 2002 Aprilia RSV1000R: Setting the suspension for you

I have just bought a 2002 Aprilia RSV1000R Mille. I have no idea who has fiddled with the suspension in the past or how it’s set up now. It will be a while before I get on a track to have it tweaked...

How to tell when it's time to change your suspension

How to tell when it's time to change your suspension

Age takes its toll on the rubber seals through degradation and springs sag as the coils deform under the continued load. You can spot seal problems such as perishing or oil leaks, but to check springs...

British Standards for puncture repairs

British Standards for puncture repairs

A British standard exists for motorcycle tyre repairs (BSAU159f), which determines the strength of the repair and where it can and can’t be made in the tyre. Compare and buy motorcycle tyres Being a...

Motorcycle Safety: Get started young

A field bike and a patch of grass was many a teenage new rider's introduction to bikes, but these days there are a few schemes dotted around the country, many run by local authorities that give youngsters a taste of two wheels. The Auto Cycle Union has a list of national schemes. Contact Debbie Walmsley: 01788-540519.   The best way to build up your skills from an early age is to enter...

Buying your first bike on a budget

Buying your first bike on a budget

If you are in the market for a new bike, but your budget is tight so you are heading towards one of the crop of Chinese-made bikes that have entered the market over the last few years, you need to...

What effect does ride height adjustment have?

What effect does ride height adjustment have?

Ride height adjustment is usually only found on top-of-the-range sports bikes, nakeds and the occasional sports-tourer, It raises or lowers the height of the rear shock, lifting or lowering the entire...

How to scrub in your tyres

How to scrub in your tyres

In a word 'gently'. When the tyre comes out of the mould there are release agents that need to be removed before the rubber performs at its optimum. Compare and buy motorcycle tyres To do that you...

How much to spend on a rear shock

How much to spend on a rear shock

If you're thinking of replacing your rear shock and are unsure of how much to spend, consider this... Choose a specialist supplier/manufacturer who can give decent back-up and advice. You are going to...

Firmer brakes overnight

Firmer brakes overnight

For an easier way to get better brakes, use a cable-tie or similar to hold the front brake on quite tightly and leave overnight. When returning to the bike next day tap the brake hoses thoroughly to...

Suspension advice: Stopping my bike 'flopping' into corners

Suspension advice: Stopping my bike 'flopping' into corners

Q. My 2004 Kawasaki ZR-7 has a tendency to flop into corners although I fitted a new rear shock recently. Compare and buy suspension products I've checked the head bearings for play and set the tyre...