Contrary to what common sense might dictate, improving your riding skill on a motorcycle doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be on a motorcycle. Of course, developing motorcycle skills is still best done on your two-wheeled machine and in a closed or safe environment. However, there are still a few things you can do to improve your riding skill even when you’re not on your motorcycle. If you’ve found yourself stuck at home or without a motorcycle, here are 4 ways you can help yourself become a better rider without having to get on the saddle.
Ride a bicycle
The first thing you can do to improve your skill is to ride a bicycle. Avid bicycle riders who also ride motorcycles can testify about the benefits of riding a bicycle regularly. The first benefit of riding a bicycle is the big improvement you will gain on your internal gyroscope. Average speeds typically hover around 15 to 20 km/h, while a motorcycle's average speed tends to range from 40 to 80 km/h. Because bicycles travel at a much slower speed, the gyroscopic effect of the wheel on your ride will not be as prominent, and your body will have to work a little bit more to maintain balance on a bicycle as compared to a motorcycle. Riding a bicycle will make you a drastically better rider in low-speed conditions, where you will maintain balance and control over your motorcycle without having to put your foot down—even in stop-and-go traffic.
The next big benefit of riding a bicycle, or aerobic exercise in general, is to condition your entire cardiovascular system (lungs, heart, etc.) to operate more efficiently. Riding a motorcycle tends to elevate your resting heart rate by about +20 to 50 beats per minute due to the increased physical exertion to ride a motorcycle and the increased adrenaline in your body. If you’re looking to feel fresher and energized after your rides out, riding a bicycle will teach your body how to regulate your breathing and help condition your lungs and heart to operate better and more efficiently. Over time, your heart and lungs will not have to work so hard to keep you strong and alert on your motorcycle, which will allow you to feel more energized after your long days out on two wheels.
Invest in riding gear
Investing in what will enable you to develop your skill is one of the most important things you can do as a motorcyclist. Motorcycle gear that does not fit correctly might distract you from the road and the ride—a small jacket that might restrict movement, an uncomfortable or poorly fitting helmet, or even shoes that pinch on your feet when shifting or braking. Investing in gear that you are comfortable in will help you feel more at home on your motorcycle and will then enable you to focus less on what’s irritating you and focus more on developing your skill and riding habits.
Along the lines of elevating the condition of your body, going to the gym or practicing a few home exercises for muscle and joint strengthening can go a long way in making you a better rider. For adventure and off-road riders, this will help make your legs stronger for riding while standing up. For road riders, the added strength and flexibility on your legs will help you grip the tank, get better control of your legs when dragging your knee at the track, and can generally prevent the early onset of fatigue on your legs. Strengthening exercises you can practice at home or in the gym include lunges and air squats for the legs and pull-ups for upper body strength.
Drive a manual car
Riders who are new to the manual transmission setup of a standard motorcycle drivetrain may find it difficult to learn and get used to the whole process of managing the clutch and shifting up and down. If you want to get familiar with learning how to ride a manual without having to worry about falling over, you can start by learning how to drive a manual on a car. The same basic principles apply—your clutch is used to engage and disengage the transmission, and you operate a shifter to go up and down gears. You can practice this in a safe environment without having to worry about accidents or falling over on a motorcycle. Once you’ve gotten accustomed to the rhythm of shifting up and down, you can apply those same reflexes and intuition to your motorcycle.