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Ten Things (some) New Riders Do Completely Wrong




Will all new riders make all these mistakes? Absolutely not.

My hope is that this article will give the reader (newbie or seasoned motorcyclist) a few things to think about - for their own safety and enjoyment, or to pass along some good information to another rider who may benefit.


1.) Giving in to peer pressure

Whether it's as important as helmets and protective gear, or as trivial as what kind of clothes to wear, new riders can quickly lose the freedom and individuality riding is supposed to be all about.

We know it's a simplistic approach to advise new riders to simply do the right thing, or at the very least what seems comfortable for them. Riding is an uniquely individual experience. It's also something that builds confidence the more it's enjoyed - giving riders the opportunity to find their own road eventually.


2.) Riding beyond their limits

Typically rooted in riding too fast to safely control their motorcycle - the thrill of speed can quickly outpace learning skill sets needed in unexpected situations or emergencies.

Whether done by choice or encouraged through peer pressure, this mistake can be avoided with a constant gut-check and honest assessment of current skill levels. Consistently doing both of these can help the new motorcyclist around long enough to become a seasoned one.


3.) Not reading the road

There's more to riding than simply knowing how to operate a motorcycle. No other vehicle is more affected by its surrounding environment than a motorcycle.

Between man-made debris and natures roadside traps, a rider can quickly get themselves into a lot of trouble in the blink of an eye. Gravel makes the bike lose much needed traction on corners. And steel plates (commonly used in road repair) and similarly, wet painted stripes in the road, can feel like riding on ice.

Although each situation has its own specific handling answer, the general rules are;

Avoid the hazards if at all possible.

Steady, controlled throttle control while the bike is negotiating the problem surface. A firm but relaxed grip of the handlebars.


4.) Not following maintenance schedules

Unlike a car, motorcycle components require more attention and consequently have a shorter maintenance cycle.

For instance, tires and brakes need to be changed more frequently on a motorcycle than on a car. Since there are only two of each compared to the four found on a car care and consideration should be given ensuring they're serviced sooner than later.

Also it's easy to miss important oil changes needed more for the time the oil has been in the bike rather than the miles you've traveled.


5.) Running out of gas

Being stuck on the side of the road with an empty tank can a hassle. It's understood motorcycles get great mileage, but an average tank only holds four to six gallons of gasoline. For some reason it seems that last quarter of a tank mysteriously goes much quicker, leaving the unaware motorcyclist riding on fumes.

Some experienced bikers refer to the gas gauge as an 'idiot gauge', "Because you'd have to be an idiot to rely on it!". Gauges are to be used as a guide, and are not 100% accurate.


6.) Dehydration

Riding may not be as physically demanding as an active sport but between being in the sun for the duration of the ride, sweating under protective gear and the wind whipping past, a rider can get dehydrated before they realize it.

This can cause fatigue, headaches and the general lack of focus, none of which are good for riding a motorcycle.

Most experts agree that drinking one bottle of water for every two hours of riding time is a healthy ratio, drinking more if thirsty or while traveling through hotter climates.


7.) Riding into exhaustion

Getting your first motorcycle is often a very exciting time, usually with months of anticipation leading up to a sleepless night before you pick it up the next day.

It's understandable that the new rider wants to squeeze in as many miles in a day as possible. Unfortunately this enthusiasm can lead to both physical as well as mental fatigue, opening up the rider to mistakes which could be very dangerous, or even deadly.

Be conservative will the miles ridden and instead spend extra time washing down the bike when you home. You'll have the opportunity to know your bike better and certainly more intimately.


8.) Misjudging corners

Probably the number one reason for a majority of early riding accidents. This category would include riding wide, going into the curve too quickly or at too high of a gear.

Out of all the motorcycle fatality statistics, single vehicle accidents (no other vehicles involved) are growing the quickest, meaning the rider drove off the road or hit an immobile object.

This is caused by not only a lack of riding experience, but also the following common mistake...


9.) Not taking a motorcycle safety course

Whether from youthful ignorance or older over-confidence, too many riders are taking to the road without professional instructions.

Motorcyclists will spend a small fortune on a motorcycle, accessories and fashionable apparel... but feel a couple of hundred dollars and two days for a recognized safety course is simply too much.

Getting beyond fragile ego's and misplaced confidence from experience gained on quieter roads, smaller engines and sharper reaction times a recognized motorcycle safety course should be an absolute given.

Even motorcyclists who consider themselves seasoned riders will acknowledge they either learned something new or polished some rusty skills. With prices ranging from free to a few hundred dollars its an inexpensive way to gain life-saving tips.

And, many insurance companies will offer discounts for completing the rider safety course.


10.) Finding new things to do on a motorcycle

After riding the same routes, boredom can sometimes replace the original overwhelming enthusiasm.

For some new motorcyclists, other life issues or maybe newer interests take a higher priority, leaving the new motorcycle unused.

Motorcyclists who look for any excuse to ride, places to go can keep the passion.



So there you have it, Ten Things (some) New Riders Do Completely Wrong.

Will all new riders make all these mistakes? Absolutely not. My hope is that this article will give the read (newbie or seasoned motorcyclist) a few things to think about - for their own safety and enjoyment, or to pass along some good information to another rider who may need it.




Ride on!

Michael Murray
Owner | Rider | Enthiusiast

Michael Murray, Cameraman for the Road Less Traveled motorcycle documentary, and owner of

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