# New to Motorcycles? Learn the Basics

May 23
01:51

2024

Daniel Levy

Motorcycles exude an undeniable cool factor, but before you dive into the world of motorcycle riding, it's crucial to understand the fundamentals. This guide will walk you through the essential basics, ensuring you're well-prepared for your two-wheeled adventures.

## The Physics of Staying Upright

Motorcycles have a fascinating ability to stay upright while in motion, thanks to the principles of angular momentum and torque. When stationary, a motorcycle will tip over without support. However, once moving, these physics principles help maintain balance.

### Understanding Angular Momentum

Imagine holding a bat vertically in your palm with the heavy end up. It will likely tip over due to instability. Now, picture wiggling your palm to keep it directly under the heavy end. The bat becomes steady. This is similar to how motorcycles stay upright. The forward momentum and constant adjustments by the rider keep the motorcycle balanced.

### The Role of Torque

Torque, the force that causes rotation, plays a significant role in motorcycle stability. As the wheels spin, they create gyroscopic forces that help keep the bike upright. This combination of angular momentum and torque ensures a smooth and stable ride.

## Basic Motorcycle Controls

Despite the variety of motorcycle designs, most bikes share standard operating configurations. Understanding these controls is essential for safe and efficient riding.

### Throttle and Clutch

• Throttle: Located on the right handlebar, twisting it backward increases the engine's gas, accelerating the motorcycle.
• Clutch Lever: Found on the left handlebar, pulling it in and releasing it allows you to change gears. While some motorcycles have automatic shifting, they are relatively rare.

### Gearshift and Brakes

• Gearshift: Typically located under the rider's left foot. To change gears, squeeze the clutch lever (left hand), ease off the gas (right hand), and move the gear shift up or down (left foot). Releasing the clutch and twisting the throttle backward will propel the motorcycle forward.
• Front Brake Lever: Positioned on the right handle grip, this lever provides about 80% of the friction needed to slow down. It works by pressing pads against a metal disc in the wheel's center.
• Rear Brake Lever: Located next to the right footrest, pressing it engages the rear brake mechanism. Overuse can cause the rear tire to skid.

Some motorcycles feature linked braking systems, where the rear brake engages part of the front brake. This system ensures smoother stops by combining the braking power of both wheels.

## Emergency Procedures

Knowing how to stop is crucial, but so is understanding emergency procedures. Most modern motorcycles come equipped with a kill switch, allowing you to quickly turn off the engine in case of emergencies, such as failing brakes or if you fall off.

Motorcycle riding involves more than just the basics. Different models may have unique features, such as GPS systems, custom suspension, and electronic de-fogging mirrors. Always wear protective gear and stay updated on your bike's specific functionalities.

### Interesting Stats

• Motorcycle Sales: In 2020, over 780,000 motorcycles were sold in the United States alone (Statista).
• Safety Gear: Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury by 69% and the risk of death by 42% (CDC).
• Fuel Efficiency: Motorcycles are generally more fuel-efficient than cars, with some models achieving up to 60-70 miles per gallon (EPA).

## Conclusion

Motorcycle riding is an exhilarating experience, but it requires a solid understanding of the basics. From the physics of staying upright to mastering the controls and emergency procedures, this guide provides a comprehensive overview. Always prioritize safety, wear your protective gear, and enjoy the ride!