In this article, we’re going to talk about problems with motorcycle riding, why you may have them and how you can deal with them.
The Issues with Motorcycle Riding
Pretty much any problem that arises in how the way your motorcycle turns, tracks or handles is going to be because of something breaking or falling out of specification. If something breaks, the change is going to be sudden, while other issues may be progressive and worsen over time.
Read on and we’ll be sure to set you on the right path.
Far and away the most common handling issue that people encounter when motorcycle riding is heavy, high-effort, sluggish steering. If you find that you really have to muscle on the handlebar to get your motorcycle to turn, and then you have to maintain bar pressure to get it to stay on a line, the first thing you should check is your tires.
A warm profile will cause this kind of handling, but so will low tire pressure, even if it's just off by a couple PSI. And if you have a steering damper, make sure you check the settings, since your buddy or someone else might have cranked it up.
Also, if your steering head bearings are getting tight, or if they're corroded and rusty, that's going to make the steering feel heavy too, so it's going to make it hard to turn the handlebars.
Bike Not Tracking Straight
Another common complaint is a bike that refuses to track straight. That can mean that it meanders down the road, or it might even pull to one side. If that's the case, there's a few things you'll want to check.
The first thing you want to verify is that your wheels are aligned when motorcycle riding and if you have spoke wheels, make sure there aren't any loose spokes. Loose or worn steering head, swing arm or wheel bearings could also be the culprit.
However, don't mistake an actual instability problem with tramlining. This is a common thing that occurs as your tires follow grooves in the road. In places where there’s a lot of grooved concrete, it can feel like there is a ghost steering your motorcycle. There's really nothing you can do about it except relax and let it happen.
If your bike is vibrating a lot more than it used to, someone might have swapped out your multi-cylinder engine for a single or (more likely) a major bolt might have loosened up.
If that's the case, you better put a torch wrench on the nuts and bolts to secure the engine to the frame.
On the other hand, if it feels like the vibrations are coming from your wheels, you may have lost a wheel weight, your wheels may be out of true or there might be something wrong with your tires. It’s best to inspect your tires for things like a bulge and then spin your wheels to make sure they run true.
Next up is ride quality. If you’re motorcycle riding and your ride has become more responsive to bumps and has started feeling harsh, it could be your suspension binding up. This is going to happen progressively as your fork cushions wear out, and the fork oil thickens with age, or your swing arm bearings or suspension linkage bearings maybe drying out and seizing.
Alternatively, you could just have overinflated tires, which is going to make for a rough ride. Finally, a front end that starts to wobble as soon as you loosen your grip on the handlebar clip-ons can be pretty unnerving, but it's not that uncommon.
Usually, this is the result of front tire wear, but some of the issues we've already mentioned, like loose head bearings or incorrect tire inflation, may also be the source of the problem.
Bad Habits on Motorcycle Riding
Most riders, if they realize they were riding the wrong way, would do something to fix it. Down below, we're going to take a look at a few bad riding habits that we commonly fall into and how they can be avoided.
The first of these habits is not anticipating what’s coming. Did you know at highway speeds, you're traveling more than one hundred feet every second?
So if you're only looking, say one hundred feet ahead of you, you've got just one second to react to anything that appears in the road.
A lot of riders live in a bubble when it comes to being on the road, only paying attention to what’s around them at the time, rather than looking down the road to make adjustments to what is ahead of them.
To get around this, you have to make sure you are eyes up constantly when riding your motorcycle. It’s recommended that twelve seconds ahead is where you should be looking; so that you're aware of what’s coming up on the highway in order to make changes to obstacles, instead of reacting at the last second.
Number two is incorrect placement of the foot on pegs. Many riders choose to ride using the middle of the foot, sometimes placing their heel on foot pegs. So why exactly is this a problem?
If you’ve ever leaned your motorcycle and caught one of your toes, you might have an idea why. The majority of the time, all that happens is you get a quick shock upon feeling your toe touch the ground, however, it’s possible that the pavement can grab your foot and throw off your foot peg, or worse. If you’re lucky, you’ll get away without injury, but even this can be a scary reminder to be careful.
The solution is to ride using the balls of your feet, or the part of your feet just behind the toes. This will keep your footing secure and prevent them from touching the ground when leaning your motorcycle into a corner.
Be Mindful of Yourself
The next bad habit is believing that you're much better on your motorcycle than you are. There are plenty of riders who brag about how much experience they have or how many years they’ve been motorcycles, however, these are often the same riders that on a course struggle with the basic techniques riders should know.
And let’s not forget about these same riders who when they are given a more advanced technique to pull off. Just because you’re able to get your motorcycle to 70 mph and ride it straight line, doesn’t mean you’re in control over it.
A riding clinic or riding class will put you in situations that the regular rider only faces a few times a year, but it’s these core skills and techniques that you develop that may save you from your next accident. Never stop learning.
Enroll in a local class, whether it's a basic class or an advanced class to work on your skills. You should always continue to grow your skills and put yourself in situations where you can continue to learn in a controlled environment.
Look Through a Curve
Bad motorcycle riding habit number four is not looking far enough through a curve. Many riders enter a curve and have no idea what's at the apex or beyond of that curve.
We all realize that it's much harder to get a motorcycle to come to a stop quickly once you have the motorcycle leaned over, so why would you go into a curve and not know what's on the other end of that curve?
To fix this, work on your slow look, press and roll. There's a reason why you look before you lean a motorcycle into a corner, so you can see if there's any obstacles on the way through the corner.
Not only that, but your motorcycle is going to go where you look, so the next time you go out for a ride, practice on looking and not just moving your eyes to the corner. Turn your head; point your nose in the direction you want the motorcycle to go.
You'll be surprised at how much more you can see, and how much smoother your cornering will be when you develop that technique of looking through the corner.
Know Your Limits
The next habit is riding at the limits. By riding at the limits, we’re talking about riding at the limits of your skills, riding at the limits of your traction and riding at the limits of your motorcycle. On the streets, you should ride in a way that keeps traction in reserve, as it takes only one car rounding a corner to change your whole life.
Always make sure to ride within your limits. Always ride with more skill than you actually need. Always ride with more traction than you actually need. Sometimes on a motorcycle, you don't get a second chance to make the same mistake, so always ride with skill and traction and reserve.
Motorcycle Riding Problems Covered
All of the handling anomalies that we have discussed so far are bad news, but the good news is that they're all easily avoidable with regular maintenance. Do your due diligence regularly, and you should be able to ride consistently without a hitch.