Beginner Motorcycling

Information on Motorcycling for Beginners

How to Ride a Motorcycle – Basic Motorcycle Controls Explained

motorcycle controls drawing

Basic Motorcycle Controls

In a previous article we talked about the best way to learn to ride a motorcycle. In this article, we will give a basic overview of how to ride a motorcycle. We’ll cover some items in more detail later, but even so this is not intended to be a replacement for a motorcycle riding course.

Riding a conventional motorcycle requires the use of both hands and both feet (and your eyes, ears and brain as well!), while riding a scooter or automatic transmission motorcycle will eliminate the clutch and shifter (and sometimes only have one control for both brakes). For most modern motorcycles, here are what the motorcycle controls are:

Left hand motorcycle controls — on most manual transmission motorcycles the left hand is used to control the clutch lever. There are also other motorcycle controls near the left handlebar grip, including the high and low headlight switch, the turn switch (Harleys have one on each side of the handlebars) and the horn button.

Left foot motorcycle controls — on most modern motorcycles the shift lever is moved by the left foot. We will cover how to shift a motorcycle in more detail in a later article, but the usual configuration is 1st gear is all the way down, then shift up for Neutral, then shift up sequentially for each of the other motorcycle gears (usually 5 or 6).

Right hand motorcycle controls — the right hand lever on the motorcycle controls the front brake, while the right hand grip on the motorcycle controls the throttle (or gas) and rolling the grip towards you rolls on the throttle (gives it more gas) and rolling the grip away from you is called rolling off of the throttle and lessens the gas that the engine gets. Other right hand controls on most modern motorcycles include the starter button and the motorcycle kill switch which shuts off the engine (and if this switch has been flipped the motorcycle engine will not start). On Harleys, there is also a right turn signal button near the right grip.

Right foot motorcycle controls — on most manual transmission motorcycles in the U.S., the right foot controls the rear brake. On some older bikes and some European bikes the shifting is done with the right foot.

So there you have it, those are the basic motorcycle controls that are used to operate most modern motorcycles. As I said, we will cover some of those in more detail in later articles.

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