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

Blackbird bars

Blackbird bars

I have recently bought a 2005 Honda Super Blackbird. Having very short legs and only being 5' 7" tall I found it necessary to have the seat cut down slightly. I also read an article on the Blackbird...

MCN's A-Z material terminology guide

MCN's A-Z material terminology guide

Are you living in a material world? Perhaps not. If you are not quite sure what Dynax, Brexcel or Primaloft materials are, MCN has produced an A-Z guide to get the know-how on all the...

New rider blog: I have been accepted into the biking family

New rider blog: I have been accepted into the biking family

Well it’s been 10 days since I last checked in and I can honestly say I think I am improving. Hooray! In my first blog I mentioned how I had become the stall queen. Well I think I have now been...

DIY screen extender

DIY screen extender

Not being satisfied with the windscreen on my new bike I had a got at making it higher. I bought a new visor for my helmet and used the old one with the lugs cut off and attached it to the screen...

New rider blog: SarahC gets her L plates

New rider blog: SarahC gets her L plates

So when I was little there were three things I wanted to do. 1. Be a mechanic 2. Be a professional ballerina 3. Ride a motorbike So having dabbled on the car with my dad since I was...

Wheel alignment tip

To make sure my wheels are aligned I use a cheap laser pointer. Put the bike on stand or side stand, bluetak the pointer to brick. Align front and back wheel, get a piece of wood about six inches wide, mark the middle of the wood and add half of the rear tyre measurement. Mark the measurement on the wood, place the wood on the front tyre with the centre mark in middle of tyre and outside...

Tips for easy cleaning

The most important bit of kit I keep in my garage is a can of Mr Sheen wax polish or supermarket equivelant (it's cheaper!) Sprayed all over the bike it will get rid of splatted insects, brake dust and even chain grease. Simply spray on, leave for a minute and wipe off. Not only does it get rid of all the stuff you don't want, but it also leaves a layer of wax, especially on wheels so you can just...

How to make your bike go better on the cheap

How to make your bike go better on the cheap

Nothing is ever free is it? No – but some things come pretty damn close. After laying out for the price of a bike and all the associated riding gear, anything which helps boost the bike’s and the...

How to revive your riding gear

How to revive your riding gear

Why bother? Because you’ve paid good money for it and servicing it will keep it in tip-top condition for years to come. Remember the feeling when you first wore that new helmet, jacket or suit? You...

How to fit soft luggage

How to fit soft luggage

Why choose soft luggage? Soft luggage is cheap, easy to use and once you’ve invested in some, you’ll be able to use it on almost any bike (although soft panniers don’t work well with all exhausts).

How to secure your garage against thieves

How to secure your garage against thieves

If a thief really wants my bike, he’ll get it won’t he? Any form of theft deterrent is a big step towards keeping hold of your bike, especially when it’s locked in a garage. Yes, it’s true to say out...

How to buy riding kit that fits

How to buy riding kit that fits

What should I look for when buying gear? When it comes to leather, it will eventually break in to become comfortable. It becomes so because it stretches or the material breaks down from continual...

How to change your sparkplugs

How to change your sparkplugs

What am I dealing with? Spark plugs are fed voltage from a bike’s ignition system, which creates the vital spark to ignite the air/fuel mix in the engine. If your spark plugs aren’t fulfilling this...

How to fit a flyscreen

How to fit a flyscreen

What is a flyscreen? Flyscreen, headlight cowl, bikini fairing and handlebar fairing are different names for the same thing: a small fairing which deflects windblast, hopefully up and over the rider’s...

How to check & replace brake discs

How to check & replace brake discs

My discs look OK, so why check them? Looks can be deceiving. It’s not only high mileage bikes that will suffer from worn or damaged discs – today’s sports bikes can suffer just as badly if regularly...

How to choose and fit a rear hugger

How to choose and fit a rear hugger

Why fit a hugger? By closely following the contours of the rear tyre, a hugger acts as a protective shroud, preventing rain and mud from being flung from the tyre on to the rear shock/underside of the...

How to balance your wheels

How to balance your wheels

Do modern wheels still need balancing then? However precise the manufacture of wheels, tyres and discs is, mass-production means no item is perfect. Tyres and wheels can be out of alignment, out of...

How to change your own tyres

How to change your own tyres

Why should I do it? Because any project that involves just you will save you money. If you buy mail order tyres at a bargain price, you’ll have to find the nearest tyre-fitting service, and nine times...

How to pass your MoT

How to pass your MoT

Why bother? A recent survey among UK MoT test stations showed 20% of all test failures were due to a blown bulb. Picking up on a possible reason for a fail notice before the test could save you the...

How to build a toolkit for your bike

How to build a toolkit for your bike

But my bike already has a toolkit under the seat Whether you strip and rebuild bikes from spindle-to-spindle, dabble in home servicing, or simply adjust your bike’s chain, tools are a bike and man’s...

How to put your bike on a diet

How to put your bike on a diet

Unsprung advantage The lower the overall weight of your motorcycle, the more acceleration you’ll get out of each horsepower your engine produces. But it doesn’t stop there. Weight removed from the...

How to fit aftermarket bodywork

How to fit aftermarket bodywork

Why bother? Genuine bodywork is expensive to replace. A simple topple over on the road when turning around can cost more in damage repair than a whole pattern bodywork kit. Trackdays increase the...

How to service your clutch

How to service your clutch

I didn’t know my clutch needed servicing... Every part of a bike needs some TLC at some point to keep it working correctly. This can vary from a simple adjustment, to a complete rebuild – your bike’s...

How to check and replace wheel bearings

How to check and replace wheel bearings

Why bother? Worn or damaged wheel bearings will cause: (1) ill handling with weaves and wobbles, a bit like a flat tyre, and (2) ill health if a wheel bearing collapses and the wheel cocks to one side...

How to fit clip-on bars

How to fit clip-on bars

Why bother? If your bike has standard fitment one-piece handlebars and you want a tucked-in race-style riding position, then lower clip-on bars, which bolt directly to the fork legs, are the answer to...

How to fit rearsets

How to fit rearsets

Why bother? Rearsets were originally the preserve of racers who wanted higher-mounted footpegs for greater ground clearance. But they’re also the best way of tailoring your bike to fit you perfectly,...

How to protect your bike from crash damage

How to protect your bike from crash damage

But I’m not going to crash… However experienced and competent a rider you are, chances are that at some point your bike is going to get damaged from: a) falling off the sidestand, b) losing your...

How to service your brake calipers

How to service your brake calipers

Why bother? Because it could save your life. Most routine services don’t include cleaning and servicing the calipers unless the brake pads need changing or there happens to be a problem with them such...

How to replace your rear shock

How to replace your rear shock

 Why would I want to replace my rear shock? Either because your current shock is leaking/worn out through age, or can’t cope with your weight/riding style with the available adjustment. Or simply...

How to fit a Scottoiler

How to fit a Scottoiler

Why bother? Because one of the biggest arse-aches of owning a bike with chain drive is keeping it correctly lubricated come rain or shine. Thick aerosol lube doesn’t penetrate the rollers well,...

How to change your coolant

How to change your coolant

Why bother? Engine coolant performance deteriorates over time. This can be caused by a build-up of aluminium corrosion or a change in the fluid to coolant ratio when periodically topped up. Most...

How to service your rear suspension

How to service your rear suspension

Why bother? The linkage is a vital part of your bike’s suspension system, but as it’s sat close to the road it’s exposed to the elements. If you ride during the winter, salt and grit will be doing...

How to replace a chain and sprockets

How to replace a chain and sprockets

Why bother? A bike’s chain and sprockets are prone to wear and tear because they are: a) exposed to the elements, as well as the effects of grit, dust, surface water, or all three b) often...

How to fit heated handlebar grips

How to fit heated handlebar grips

Why bother? Because cold and wet weather plays hell with any body parts that aren’t insulated. And when it does you’re on dangerous ground: reactions get slow and tiredness quickly engulfs you. It’d...

How to fit braided brake hoses

How to fit braided brake hoses

Why bother? Your bike’s standard black, flexible, ugly hoses are prone to bulging, especially with age when the material perishes. Try this to see what we mean: wrap your hand round the existing hose,...

How to replace your brake pads

How to replace your brake pads

Why bother replacing your pads? Obvious really, but knackered brakes can put you in a hedge. Pad wear is inevitable and, on top of gambling with your safety, worn out pads will also wreck your discs...