If you think about it critically, the first individual to add a motor to a bicycle must have seemed foolish at the time. With such humble beginnings, no one ever anticipated that motorcycles would turn out to be the monstrous machines that dominate our motorways.
Motorcycles have found an enduring space in modern society. And for new riders, one of the most common questions is whether riding a motorcycle is the same as riding a bicycle. Although these two forms of personal transportation look very similar, there are significant differences in the way they’re ridden.
If you want to get your feet wet in a safe environment, go on a motorcycle tour for beginners and get started as a biker guided by more advanced riders. Meanwhile, check out the main differences between riding a bicycle and a motorcycle!
The Key Differences
To some extent, riding a motorcycle follows the same principles as riding a bicycle. The main difference is that, with a motorbike, you’ll have to avoid doing certain actions which would come naturally if you were riding a bicycle and pay lots more attention to some other details.
For instance, if you’re riding your motorbike through a winding road, you’ll need to focus on the direction you’re going rather than what is right in front of you. The wind could cause an accident if you’re not careful enough.
Motorcycles are heavy, and subsequently, more difficult to steer. If you’re driving through a curve on your motorcycle, you’ll need to lean your body without moving the handlebars too much. This way you’ll maintain your weight over the bike. If you lean into the turn too much, you might end up tipping over.
On the other hand, if you’re riding your bicycle through a curve, you can move the handlebar and still control it without falling. Bicycles are lighter, so, pressing or turning the handlebars while you make a turn is relatively easier compared to a motorcycle.
Another significant difference between riding a motorcycle and a bicycle is the speed. Depending on the type of model of your motorbike, you could reach high speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. In contrast, bicycles do not have engines, which means that the speed will depend on the power of your legs. And as strong as you are, you’ll never match up the horsepower of gas or electric-driven motors.
One area where the riding technique of a motorcycle is almost the same as that of a bicycle is in braking. You’ll need more skills when braking on a motorcycle but they follow the same principle. Basically, you should apply at least 70% of your braking effort to the front wheel and the rest to the rear wheel. The reason for this is that weight transfer shifts the bicycle or motorcycle’s balance from the rear to the front wheel. In other words, the front wheel has to handle more load. If you brake the front wheel, you can end up losing control and falling.
How to Ride a Motorcycle the Right Way
If you’re like most cyclists, you probably think that riding a motorcycle should be a piece of cake. How hard can it be if you’ve been riding a bicycle since you were six?
The one factor that this group of people neglects is that motorcycles accelerate pretty fast. Most touring motorcycles can accelerate from a speed of 0 to 70 faster than you can complete this sentence. You should also keep in mind that motorcycles are not equipped with safety gear such as seatbelts and airbags, which exposes you to severe injuries in case of an accident.
So, how can you minimize the risk of an accident when riding your motorcycle?
- Get some training
There are tons of motorcycle training programs that you can choose from. As such, you should make a point of taking a formal riding course before hitting the road. Even if you’re an experienced motorcyclist, you should undertake additional riding programs from time to time. Doing so helps to sharpen your street-riding skills.
Once you’re ready, sign up for a guided motorcycle tour to polish your skills.
- Ride defensively
As a motorcyclist, you should never assume that other road users will be as cautious as you are. Drivers, not even considering those who are making phone calls, checking their make-up or browsing a new song, will be busy looking for mobile objects the size of cars or trucks.
A motorcycle is a much smaller item and, unfortunately, some drivers don’t pay attention to motorcyclists. It means that you should always be ready to escape the mistakes that could be caused by reckless drivers. In the end, a car just gets a dent while you get a broken bone.
- Invest in a helmet
Helmets are designed to protect your head if you fall from the riding height, which is about 4 to 5 feet. If you’re involved in a collision and happen to fall to the ground, the helmet will minimize the impact on your head.
One thing you should never do is substitute your helmet with a bandana. Bandanas may look cool but they offer zero protection. Not wearing a helmet is the biggest mistake a biker can ever make. It shouldn’t even be a discussion, never ride without a helmet.
- Wear safety gear
Jeans, a simple blouse or t-shirt and sandals are recipes for a painful disaster on your motorcycle. Ideally, you should consider wearing clothes that can protect you from wind chills, flying insects and debris. The best gear to invest include a leather or reinforced jacket, gloves, pants and if possible, footwear that goes above your ankles. Also, the gear you choose should be bright-colored. Most drivers who hit motorcyclists claim that they didn’t see them in time to avoid collisions.
- Avoid riding in bad weather
Another thing you should avoid doing is riding in bad weather. If it’s rainy, the slippery and foggy conditions will not only reduce your visibility but also compromise the grip of your wheels on the road. If you have to ride in the rain, do not make abrupt maneuvers or accelerate. Be particularly gentle with your brakes and throttle.
Riding a motorcycle differs slightly from riding a bicycle. More specifically, navigating a motorcycle requires more skills especially when you’re making turns. To improve your motorcycle riding experience, ensure you gain the necessary skills before hitting the road with more adventurous rides.
Moreover, invest in the right gear such as helmets, gloves and reinforced jackets and do not ride in inclement weather. Be safe!
Want to see all the American great landscapes on two wheels? Go on a motorcycle tour in the USA!