Lost confidence riding a motorbike? READ THIS!

Lost confidence riding a motorbike? READ THIS!

Have you lost your confidence with riding a motorcycle? Feeling nervous or too scared to even get on a motorbike? The same thing happened to me. Here’s everything I did to build my confidence on a bike again, until I was comfortable touring around the UK and Europe, and even doing some track days!

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How I lost my confidence on a motorcycle

Shortly after I passed my motorbike test, I become nervous and stopped riding for several months. Another bike went flying past me whilst I was overtaking a truck (yup, he was in the same lane as me!) and I didn’t see him.

In fact, he made me jump so much I almost swerved into the truck I was overtaking…

That event shook me up completely. Although I didn’t stop riding immediately, I found myself making silly excuses to not go out. It was too wet, hot, cold, the dog needed a bath, I needed a bath…

I finally realised it had been MONTHS since I’d taken my bike out and the simple fact was that I was scared. I didn’t want to.

However, I needed to ride again so we could go motorcycle touring around Europe as a family. My daughter was riding pillion behind my husband, which meant I either had to ride my own motorcycle or… not go.

Watch the video of how I got my confidence on a motorcycle back

Getting back onto a bike wasn’t easy and it took a long time for me to feel confident again, but I did get there eventually.

If you feel the same, don’t panic- it’s a really common problem that most riders just don’t talk about (especially in biker Facebook groups!) But I want to help you, so the video below shows some things I did to build back my confidence on a motorcycle:

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 the tips below:

Tips for Nervous Bikers- where to start

Let me repeat again- feeling nervous on a motorcycle is incredibly common. There is nothing wrong with you for feeling intimidated or unsure.

However, it’s incredibly important that, when you do go out on the road, you ride with confidence. This is for your own safety and for that of the people around you.

For that reason, you need to go somewhere to practice again before you go out on the road.

Building Confidence as a nervous rider

There are a couple of ways you can build your confidence on a bike up.

The best option is to book onto a ‘refresher’ day with a motorcycle training school. The instructors will be able to help you work on the bits you feel anxious about and most have a secure space where you can practice and gain confidence.

It’s also nice to have someone there talking to you as you go out on the roads again for the first time.

If booking into a school isn’t an option, the next best thing is to go somewhere quiet and practice. This is what I did, because I had someone with me to help when I needed it. Indeed, he rode my motorcycle to an industrial estate for me (while I drove a car) and then we swapped- I rode around and around the industrial estate while he sat in the car with the heating on and read a magazine.

Me on my first motorbike- before I lost my confidence
Me on my first motorbike- before I lost my confidence

Practice slow riding/ manoeuvres

Give yourself plenty of time to practice slow manoeuvring, turning corners and stopping/ pulling away from a junction. These are most likely to be the areas where you feel the most wobbly- which in turn makes you feel less confident.

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 – and the bike leant too far into the kerb.

Practice using either leg when you stop and pulling away smoothly from either side.

Practice somewhere safe

Try not to use backroads or country lanes to practice on initially. They can be quiet, but that also means cars often drive much faster on them and they won’t be expecting a motorcycle practicing a u-turn in the middle of the road!

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

Once you’ve built up your confidence to ride safely and stop properly, it can help to regularly ride the same roads for a while. The familiarity will help you feel more comfortable and it’s one less thing to think about- especially at places like roundabouts where there’s already a lot going on and you need eyes in the back of your head.

If you are riding somewhere new, invest in a proper motorcycle sat nav. These 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.

Ride defensively, not aggressively

This is one of the most important tips for any biker. 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. Anticipate 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.

Yes, there are plenty of other bikers on the roads who will do all of those things (including speeding past a slower biker in the same lane!) You don’t have to act like them- they probably won’t last that long.

Me on my motorcycle at John o’Groats, feeling quite proud of myself!

Rev for 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 (although don’t do it at night in a residential area!)

And, of course, remember to turn your indicator off! (In the video, my husband left his on, which made me laugh!)

Learn to pick up your bike

Uh. Nobody likes doing this, but it’s an essential skill for every biker. Learning to pick up your bike will really help you build 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. (Read more tips for female motorcycle riders)

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; being a beginner or nervous 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 probably hasn’t seen you. (Yes, I drive cars too, and yes, I know there are many 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 jacket/ boots/ gloves. It’s foolish to think you won’t have an accident and you’ll feel much safer knowing you’re protected.

Don’t ride when you’re emotional

I don’t care if you’re a female biker, 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 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.

Ride by yourself to build confidence

When you’ve got the basics down again, start riding by yourself. I didn’t start to FEEL more confident until I began riding alone. Even if you just go 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 solo 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 probably be quicker than you, or there will be people showing off, and you’ll hate it/ feel rubbish. Trust me- save group rides for when you’re kicking ass and feeling awesome about your riding.

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.

New/ Nervous motorcycle rider? Try these tips to build your confidence
New/ Nervous motorcycle rider? Try these tips to build your confidence

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16 thoughts on “Lost confidence riding a motorbike? READ THIS!”

  1. Good advice but contrary as it seems, motorways are good places. Speeds may be a bit faster but there are no roundabouts, pedestrians about to cross a road , traffic junction or cars pulling out of side roads.

    • This is an excellent point and now I agree with you, although there are still plenty of idiots who change lanes without looking. However, I remember how terrifying they were as a beginner motorcycle rider- the speed, the wind rushing in your helmet and the fear of being wiped out at 70mph! We used to ride miles out of our way so I could avoid motorways! Def needed to build up to it.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this advice – I am just going through my Mod 1 training and dropped my bike when parking up!!! Apart from feeling a complete muppet it did knock my confidence so listening to your you tube vlog has really helped 👍🏍

    • I’m sorry to hear it knocked your confidence- it’s so easily done! Keep going: I promise you’ll get your confidence back. x

    • Hi

      Yeah I have been riding for years then just one day for no apparent reason I felt I couldn’t get on the bike.
      I ride a Honda CBF 1000 and wonder if it might be easier if I buy a smaller bike, in order to get my confidence back?

      • Just as a follow up.
        I bought a Royal Enfield Meteor 350, best thing I ever did.
        My mojo isn’t fully back and the Honda is still parked up but I have put around 1000 kms on the Meteor and feel better for it.
        Definitely worked for me.👍

      • Chris I ad exactly the same problem in 2017 and couldn’t work out why after riding for 39 years on a variety of machines. I was eventually diagnosed with PTSD and had EMDR therapy for it. Now I’m fine and just waiting for a sunny day to drive to the local car park to practise on my Yanaha XT250 Serow.

        Hope everything is still going well for you.



  3. Thanks for the tips! I’m a new rider as of this year. Took my endorsement class last October and I did well.. Bought a bike which sat in the garage all winter. Went to ride once it warmed up and I was so nervous, I dropped her in the driveway. Shook it off and rode a few more times before doing it again! Argh. I’m decent at riding but not so hot at stopping! Lol. Now it’s at the HD shop, getting a lower suspension so I can reach better! I’m excited to get her back but still nervous.. And just lost my main excuse (can’t flat foot). Wish me luck!

  4. I used to ride before I had kids. I put 14,000 [yes that was thousand not hundred] miles on my Honda VFR in one season. My husband put 16,000 on his. But I stopped riding when we had kids. Now that we are empty nesters, we got back into riding again. I have a Honda NC750x – gone are the sport touring days…
    I have a saying – MOS – My Own Speed. Whenever I get a strange feeling, or I’m not comfortable going through the twisties as fast as my husband, I just tell him MOS – see you at the next junction and he says – take your time.
    That in itself is a confidence booster. Also, taking the Motorcycle Safety class again might be good if you haven’t ridden in a while. You are right about going to an abandoned parking lot and practice slower maneuvers! and ALWAYS wear the right gear.

  5. Thank you so much for this!
    Brand new rider, passed my CBT in August this year and only got a bike a few weeks ago. Had an accident during the test and dropped the bike (not sure how I managed a pass to be honest)!
    My confidence has been wiped but like you, my partner and big brother are being so patient helping me. Being 5’2” is a real struggle because tippy toes aren’t offering the best support but I’m sure with time I will get there. Reading this blog and everyone’s comments has given me a small amount of courage to keep going x

  6. By the way this is an excellent site and has some very enjoyable articles.

    Thanks very much as I found it really helpful especially on the topic of “lost confidence”.


    Cathy Gillespie

  7. Thanks for all the advice, I’m getting back on my bike after 5 years, so feeling really nervous. Hopefully my confidence will soon come back.

    I recognised the roads round gosport in your video.

    • Bless you- I hope your confidence comes back soon. And yes, I was based down that way for a while. Small world 🙂


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