Have you lost your confidence riding a motorcycle? Feeling nervous or too scared to even get on a bike? The same thing happened to me. Here’s everything I did to build my confidence on a bike again.
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Tips to help nervous motorcycle riders build confidence
Shortly after I passed my motorcycle test, I scared myself silly and stopped riding for several months.
Getting back onto a bike wasn’t easy and it took a long time for me to feel confident again, but I got there eventually.
If you feel the same, don’t panic- it’s a really common problem that most riders just don’t talk about. But I want to help you, so here are 11 things I did to build back my confidence on a bike when riding on a road.
I hope you found that video useful. If you’d like to see more tips and adventures, feel free to subscribe.
If you don’t want to watch the video, you can read our tips below:
Lost your confidence on a motorbike? Start here…
There are things you can do to help you BE a better motorcycle rider, and things to help you FEEL more confident. Let’s start with getting YOU feeling better on a bike
Dress for success
Many of us have heard the phrase ‘all the gear and no idea’. However, that does NOT apply in the motorcycling world. Do NOT start riding with little/ no protective clothing, telling yourself you’ll get better kit when you improve.
THIS is when you really really REALLY need protection.
Think about it- this is when you’re wobbly, and likely to do something wrong or even dangerous. You’re not used to reading the traffic, or understanding that every other vehicle on the road is an idiot and probably hasn’t seen you (yes, I drive cars too, and yes, I know there are many very competent drivers, but if YOU assume they haven’t seen you, you’ll be a better rider.)
It doesn’t matter if you’re going touring with your motorcycle or just popping down the road to meet friends, don’t compromise your safety with a cheap helmet, or no proper jacket/ boots/ gloves. It’s foolish to think it won’t happen to you and you’ll feel much safer knowing you’re protected.
Don’t ride emotional
I don’t care if you’re a female motorcycle rider, guy or undecided, EVERYONE gets emotional. I love the fact that getting on my bike and going for a ride can make a bad day better BUT don’t ride when you’re angry/ upset/ just had a fight with your partner.
Whether we like it or not, emotions make us do stupid things- and doing stupid things on a bike can be deadly- so please wait and calm down a bit before you ride.
Oh, and don’t ride when drunk/ under the influence. That’s just asking for trouble.
I do most of my riding with my husband and we love exploring together. However, I didn’t start to FEEL more confident until I began riding alone. Even if it’s just to the shops, or for a coffee, knowing that you can get your motorcycle out, set up and go by yourself is a great confidence booster, as is knowing you can ride safely with whatever the traffic might throw at you.
You don’t have to ride alone EVERY time, but make an effort to go out every now and then by yourself.
And don’t join any friends or group rides until you feel more confident. They’ll be quicker than you, and there will be lots of people showing off, and you’ll hate it/ feel rubbish. Trust me- save those for when you’re kicking ass and feeling awesome about your riding.
Tips to BE a better rider
Ok, let’s share some tips to help you build you skills
Ride defensively, not aggressively
This is probably the most important tip. Expect the unexpected- ALL THE TIME. Vehicles will turn across your path, cars will pull out and people will cross the road in front of you. It’s like being a new car driver and anticipating danger EVERYWHERE.
Give yourself plenty of braking room, expect doors to be opened when passing parked vehicles, and don’t try to overtake when it’s not safe.
Lost confidence riding a motorcycle? Practice slow riding/ manoeuvres
One of the best things I did to rebuild my confidence was go to an industrial estate at night and practice. And then practice some more.
My husband would ride the bike there (while I followed in the car) and he’d sit and wait for me for hours whilst I went round and round in circles, practicing stopping at junctions, pulling away, u-turns, parking, turning- all the skills you need every single time on a bike.
It wasn’t glamorous, or fun (it was January and FREEZING!) but it was incredibly helpful.
Try to find somewhere quiet so you can do the same.
Practice somewhere safe
And try not to use backroads- they’re quiet until the boy racers come down and if they happen to turn up whilst you’re doing an unexpected u-turn, they might not have time to stop.
You’ll find an empty car park or industrial estate after hours are the best places- assuming they’re not locked!
Know where you’re going
It can really REALLY help to regularly ride the same roads. The familiarity will help you feel more comfortable and it’s one less thing to worry about- especially at places like roundabouts where there’s already a lot going on and you need eyes in the back of your head. Knowing you’re in the right lane is one less thing to worry about.
If you are riding somewhere new, invest in a proper motorcycle sat nav. They will tell you in advance where you need to go, which will in turn help you feel more confident at each junction so you can focus on your riding.
Learn to pick up your bike
Uh. Nobody likes this, but it’s an essential skill. Learning to pick up your bike will really help you build you confidence that you can handle whatever may happen when you’re out on the road.
Find a way which works for YOU; your strength, your bike and keep practicing until you’re confident you can do it on your own whenever you might need to.
Learn to stop safely
I’m lucky that I’m 5’11 and have ridiculously long legs, which means I can put them down on both sides of nearly every motorcycle.
However, I STILL managed to drop my motorbike on a roundabout because I put the wrong leg down (I was always taught to only put one leg down- the trick is learning WHICH leg!)
Practice using either one leg or the other, and getting comfortable no matter which is down and pulling away smoothly.
Rev to bring attention
One of the most valuable skills my husband (who’s been riding for years) taught me was to pull in the clutch and rev my engine to draw attention to myself.
Don’t do this at every junction, but if you see a car or vehicle waiting to pull out and you’re not sure if they’ve seen you, a quick ‘rev’ is enough to get their attention and stop an accident. Try it- it’s a really useful skill.
And, of course, remember to turn your indicator off! (In the video, my husband left his on, which made me laugh!)
Stay safe out there and if you have any tips to share which helped you improve your riding and feel more confident on a motorbike, please do share them below.
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