Banish the riding rust

Published: 09 February 2017

If you’re anything like 98% of riders, your winter travels have been accomplished behind the wheel of a nice warm car, and in between journeys you’ve sat on the sofa eating cream buns. Nothing wrong with that. But as a way to prepare you for a season of fun and games on a motorbike it falls a bit short. So...


1. Admit you’re rusty

If you’ve been using a car for months, your senses are dulled. By its nature, a car can be operated with next to no concentration. You can’t see very far ahead, and even if you could it wouldn’t make any difference because you’re in a 52mph queue behind an Eddie Stobart truck.

So ignore your ego. Instead, go into the bathroom, look in the mirror and say out loud, “I am a recovering couch potato. My concentration is therefore rubbish. So is my judgement of speed, distance and timing. They will get better again – maybe better than ever before. But I need to rebuild them slowly.”

2. Get your bike ready

If it’s even half way modern, your bike is unlikely to need more than a few psi in the tyres. However, cleaning, polishing, checking and lubing are bonding rituals that remind you motorcycles are heavy, and fall over if unsupported. It gets your bike ready and it gets your biking brain ready to.

3. Keep it simple

Road surfaces and side entrances permitting, a good rider naturally approaches left-handers on the right-hand side of their lane, and vice versa. The forward vision is better. But if riding like that is a conscious effort, just sit in the middle for the first few rides.

Your brain – the thing that keeps you safe – is a computer, and if it’s going to deal with the sudden demands of a nun running out in front of you it doesn’t need to feel overloaded just yet. Or any time, in fact. Riding a motorbike should give you a fun, light feeling inside. If it ever feels stressy, there’s every chance you’re trying too hard.

4. Practice

Over your first 10 rides of the year, give yourself some drills in the three most important things: braking, direction changing and reading the way into bends. If you live somewhere nice, you can incorporate them into a ride. Otherwise, seek out some quiet tarmac and get re-acquainted with stopping quickly and confidently, making the bike turn exactly when you want it to, and heading into corners without getting it wrong.


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