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Skills for Life: Essential Motorcycle Riding Skills

Continuous learning is the ongoing expansion of knowledge and skill sets. Often used in the context of professional development, continuous learning in the workplace is about developing new skills and knowledge while also reinforcing what has been previously learned. Daily habits and practices are what form the foundation of continuous learning. Continuous learning can work through any means of knowledge intake consumed on an ongoing basis. Learning how to ride a motorcycle is a skill for life, and perfecting this skill to perfection can help you achieve great things if you want to. 

Clutch Control

Without mastery of the clutch release, riding will be much more difficult than it needs to be. The building block of all clutch skills is the concept of the friction zone, the section of the clutch lever travels where the clutch transitions from being disengaged to being engaged. Manipulating the friction zone will not only deliver smooth starts but also enable easy low-speed maneuvers. 

Throttle Control 

With the wrist in the up position, an abrupt throttle input can lead to what is known as whiskey throttle, a situation where the rider is pitched backward by an inadvertent throttle input, causing their wrist to crank on even more throttle. The wrist-down position also forces the rider to close the throttle completely when reaching for the front brake lever. All of this must be considered before any actual riding of a motorcycle occurs. The real throttle skills are delivering smooth inputs for acceleration, rolling on the throttle through a turn, and matching engine speed on a downshift. If any of these sound alien to you, get yourself enrolled in a motorcycle safety class!


Poor braking skills are ranked very high in motorcycle accident statistics. In a braking-induced crash, the rider’s technique was typically characterized by underutilizing the front brake and overusing the rear. Since motorcycles have a relatively high center of gravity, as the rider brakes, the bike’s center of gravity shifts forward, pressing the front tire into the pavement and making more braking power available. So, a skilled rider is building pressure throughout a hard braking maneuver. If a rider tries to immediately apply maximum braking power to the front brake before the weight has shifted, the wheel will lock and skid – or the ABS will trigger. 


The long and short of countersteering is that you turn the handlebar in the opposite direction of the way you want to turn. Riders who don’t completely grasp countersteering down to the muscle memory level – have been shown in accident studies to actually turn their motorcycles toward the very thing they are trying to avoid hitting.


The secret to a smooth downshift is maddeningly simple. All you have to do is exactly match the increase in engine speed required by the lower gear. In reality, it’s not so simple. That’s why the clutch release is so important. Dump the clutch with mismatched rpm, and the chassis bobbles. Or worse, the rear tire can skip. A tactful clutch release smooths over those differences in engine speed.

At American Motorcycle Training, we have specialized training programs available for riders of wide skill levels. Our experienced, and competent instructors are helping thousands of students across USA to be masterful at motorcycle riding. 

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