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

Getting into motorcycles, aged 43

My Biking experience is fairly new. At the tender age of 43 after just passing my DAS test I bought a 650 Bandit (new) and have at the time of writing this done just 211 miles. My previous biking history stems back to when I was around 14 upon joining a school motorcycle club. Trial sidecar. I learnt to ride on an old Francis Barnet and those school memories are the only ones I enjoy. A few...

Jacket review: Aerostich Falstaff

Jacket review: Aerostich Falstaff

Falstaff jacket, $397 (£258) Miles covered/time: 4200/13 months What’s good? The closest you can come to putting on your favourite slippers, this jacket immediately feels that you have owned it for...

Big bike tips for the vertically challenged

Big bike tips for the vertically challenged

Getting your first big bike can be a daunting experience, especially if you are below average height. Once you’ve gained confidence on big bikes the need to get both feet flat on the floor is largely...

Choosing the right bike for the right test

Choosing the right bike for the right test

If you are looking for a bike to pass your test on, make sure that you purchase the right bike for the category of test you want to pass, or you could find yourself restricted to a 125 with only an A1...

What’s causing my mystery puncture?

What’s causing my mystery puncture?

Q. I was riding on the M54 tonight and the front tyre on my 2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R went flat really quickly, I struggled over to the hard shoulder and got recovered back home. Find a used Kawasaki...

How can I improve my Speed Triple’s rear brake?

How can I improve my Speed Triple’s rear brake?

Q. I have a Triumph Speed Triple 955i on a 2000 plate. My back brake is virtually none existent. I have had it checked and have been told that everything is OK, and that it’s just a common thing with...

Can I remove my Z750's stock exhaust valve?

Can I remove my Z750's stock exhaust valve?

Q. I really need to make my 2007 Kawasaki Z750 louder as they hear my son’s GSX-R coming, but not me following. So I’m looking at a replacement can, but what’s to be done with the device fitted to the...

Fitting a new chain

Fitting a new chain

If you are thinking of changing your chain there are a few things you should consider. You can get more out of it, if you keep it scrupulously lubricated and adjusted through its life, ideally with...

New rider: Parallel twins explained

New rider: Parallel twins explained

The parallel twin cylinder engine has a long history of use in motorcycles, being the mainstay of the British motorcycle industry for 50 years until the smoother, more sophisticated four-cylinder...

Why won't my Honda CBF500's lights come on?

Why won't my Honda CBF500's lights come on?

When I start my Honda CBF500 up the headlight should come on automatically. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. However, after riding for a few minutes it comes on and stays on. Neither dip nor main...

What does mystery XJR error code mean?

What does mystery XJR error code mean?

I have a friend who has a 2008 Yamaha XJR1300. He has a problem with a code that keeps coming up on the warning panel – when you switch the ignition on, the code that shows up is “20”. If the engine...

New Rider: Why triples rock

New Rider: Why triples rock

The first ‘modern’ three-cylinder engine was an inline design built by the Triumph/BSA conglomerate back in the 1969 using their existing twin-cylinder motors, as a response to Honda’s revolutionary...

Help! GPZ instrument lights have stopped working

Help! GPZ instrument lights have stopped working

The instrument panel lights have all gone on my 1994 Kawasaki GPZ500S and I need to know if I need capless or mini bayonet type bulbs to replace them? I know they need to be 12 volt/3.4 watt. ...

Best road tyres for a BMW R1200GS

Best road tyres for a BMW R1200GS

I have recently purchased a 2010 R1200GS which was fitted with Conti Trail Attacks from new. They are very grippy and confidence inspiring but the rear seems to be wearing out at an alarming rate...

Pre-2001 Licence categories

Vehicle tests have become more complex over the years with several modules and more extensive theory tests. Full motorcycle licence holders who’ve held their licences pre-2001, also have a B1 classification which allows them to use “Motor tricycles / quad cycles, 3 or 4 wheeled vehicles with an un-laden weight not exceeding 550kg”. Armed with this category they do not have to take the car theory...

New rider engine layouts: Singles

New rider engine layouts: Singles

The simplest bike engine design is the single cylinder and it’s what’s fuelled generations of young and new bikers’ love affair with two wheels, as well as keeping the masses moving in poorer...

Best tyres for a Triumph America

Best tyres for a Triumph America

Q. I don't have much confidence in the tyres fitted to my 2007 Triumph America. They are a fairly new Metzeler Lazertec front and Marathon rear. Save £££s on motorcycle tyres The front tracks any...

Why is my 2007 R1 ticking?

Why is my 2007 R1 ticking?

Q. I have a 2007 R1 with just over 7000 miles on it. I noticed that there was a ticking noise coming from the right hand side of the bike and so took it to a dealer who thought there was no problem. I...

How to buy leathers that fit

How to buy leathers that fit

Q. I have just bought a set of two-piece leathers and have a question about the fit. I am a 40/41-inch chest and so ordered the size 42 after speaking to the salesman. The sleeves end at just above...

Advice: Why is my ZX-6R cutting out?

Advice: Why is my ZX-6R cutting out?

horuson1: I have a ZX-6R C1H (2005). When I go for a ride it seems to be running hotter than it should then if I stop it cuts out unless I rev it. If it cuts out it won’t restart for about 15 minutes...

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...