12 Novice Mistakes Motorcycle Riders Make

There’s a certain appeal that comes with riding a motorcycle. The freedom, the feel of the road, the open air — it’s a riding experience that’s unlike any other. This appeal is something that plenty of people, both men and women, are drawn to. As exciting as the idea of riding a motorcycle is, it isn’t something to take lightly. It takes years of riding experience that novices don’t initially have. This lack of experience can be costly if you’re new to motorcycle riding but expect to ride like a seasoned biker. Keep in mind that because you are inexperienced, it will take some time for things to become comfortable and second nature to you. Often, inexperience can lead to mistakes that can be costly, both financially and physically. In fact, I’ve compiled a list of 12 mistakes that are commonly made by novice riders.


Photo by Ronald Saunders (Flickr)

1. Not taking a basic riding course

Just because you’ve ridden a motorcycle a time or two doesn’t mean that you are road-ready. When it comes to safety, a basic motorcycle-riding course provides essential information about technique and control that you’ll need before you take your bike out on the streets.

2. Not wearing the right gear

There are no words that can adequately express how important it is to wear the right gear before riding your bike. Unprotected skin is no match for the surface of the road or highway, nor is your head strong enough to endure the impact of hitting the ground or another obstacle like a tree or car. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants that cover the legs. Gloves provide a better grip and also protect your skin from injury.

3. Riding beyond their level of skill

As a novice rider, it is important that you learn what your limits and skills are. Don’t rush it if you aren’t comfortable with passengers or riding in the rain. Going too fast is also a sure way to get into or cause an accident, especially for the inexperienced.

4. Not maintaining a buffer zone

Novice riders often don’t keep enough space between themselves and the other vehicles on the road. Keeping a safe distance will give you more time to anticipate the changes that could end up injuring you and may make you more visible to drivers.

5. Buying a first bike that’s too much bike to handle

Some bikes are too much for the inexperienced biker to handle safely. Don’t pick the largest, most powerful motorcycle as your first bike; there’s plenty of time for that later, when you are more experienced.

6. Not riding to fit the road conditions

Driving at the speed limit and not to fit the road conditions is inviting a wipe-out. Unfortunately, some novice riders only see the road ahead and the posted limit. Those posted speed limits are for ideal conditions only, and slick roads and bad weather conditions are not ideal.

7. Forgetting to look where they want to go

While on your motorcycle, you’ll tend to steer in the direction that you look. This is something that novice riders can forget, particularly when faced with an emergency or unexpected situation.

8. Assuming they are visible to other drivers

Assumptions are a dangerous mistake that many who are new to motorcycling make. Never assume that a driver knows that you are there. If you must make an assumption, then assume that they do not see you and ride defensively.

9. Not practising enough

There is truth to the saying that practice makes perfect, and it’s true to some extent here. You might not become “perfect,” but practising helps you to master techniques like leaning and counter-steering so that they become more natural over time.

10. Not leaning enough

Speaking of leaning, novice riders are often hesitant about how far is too far when it comes to leaning their bikes. As a result, they may not lean enough when taking corners. If you’re hesitant or nervous about leaning too much, slow down when taking those turns.

11. Failing to stay alert

The worst time to become preoccupied is while you are riding your motorcycle. Even experienced riders need to pay attention to what’s going on around them.

12. Not thinking or looking far enough ahead

Yes, it is important to know what the car directly in front of you is doing (and the cars on the sides of you, too), but you must also look further ahead as well. This improves your chances of seeing potential trouble well in advance.