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How do learners learn?

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by jdl1306, Jun 5, 2007.

  1. Had my L's since April and a bike for a few weeks. I've been out and about on short bursts just picking up skills - love it! I've actually been riding around a new estate just practising things; cornering, hill starts, doing circles in the t-intersections there... Pretty much just getting used to the bike (zx-2r) and riding in general.

    I'd like to know what the best way of learning is though! Sounds stupid but i don't want to pick up bad habits, not knowing what bad habits are! Lets face it the L's test and course is rubbish. I hadn't been on 2 wheels before that day and didn't find it hard at all.

    So do i just get out there like i've been doing or are there things i should be practising to improve on or what? I've been around the local neighbourhood and find the bike good, but it's very different to the car obviously!

    What i'm unsure about the most is speed. I have no feel for speed on the bike. I could drive my car blind and tell you what speed i was going by the sound and feel, but find the need to look at the gauges on the bike to know where i'm at. This translates into me not really know what is an appropriate speed to corner at and taking my eyes off the road where i feel it's better they are! Is more time in the saddle the only way to compensate or are there any pointers? I'm trying to get out whenever i can, and have used traffic to gauge speed, but we all know how much that varies between drivers too.

    What are the most common things new riders do wrong (i'll eventually get into the habit of turning indicators off!)? I don't want to be another idiot on 2 wheels oblivious to my surrounds ticking off other road users and giving riders a bad name!
  2. You learn by doing, your bike will become second nature like your car has. Talk to people, read some of the huge number of riding and tech books, do your own spannering to help you understand more and more about how your bike works.

    Do courses, there's nothing that will get you up to speed faster. Watch people and ask them things. Ride in all sorts of conditions, on all sorts of roads. Don't be afraid to tackle gravel or grass. Learn to find the extremes of your bike's handling.

    Go to coffee nights and gasbag about bikes and riding all night. Trust nobody's opinion, take it all on board and evaluate for yourself. Ride with people and decide for yourself what it is that makes a good rider. Find people you want to be like and people you definately don't want to be like, and figure out what the difference between them is.

    Watch bike races, trials riders, stunters, dirt bike riders and those mad japanese gymkhana guys on youtube. See what you can pick up.

    Don't stay off your bike for too long, you'll be surprised how little time away from a bike it takes to start feeling rusty.

    Read and participate in interweb discussion boards like these. Learn to tell what's quality information and what's crap, you'll find more of one than the other ;)

    Here's a bunch of fantastic articles to get your reading started:

    But remember, not everything you read is true, and none of it can make a difference until it becomes second nature, so when you've read about a concept, make sure you practice it on the road so it becomes part of your arsenal.
  3. the things I f&%$#d up were braking distances and changing lanes too late when coming out to get round a parked car etc without stress.
    do these without thinking in the car and all of a sudden have to think again! :shock:
  4. Hi jdl,
    your best bet is to hook up with a mentor in your area who can ride behind you offer some tips. Not sure where you are, do you mean Maidstone?

    I learnt a lot from joning Learner friendly NR group rides and also the Yarra Ranges Ride offered by HART and Yarra Council. Too bad they only operate in the warmer months.

    Best advice I can offer is ride lots, and ride to the conditions, leaving plenty of room for error. You will soon get used to the speeds you are doing just by listening to the sound of your engine. learning what gear you are in and what rev range your bike like to sit at is a good way to tell you speed without glancing at instruments all the time. e.g I know my bike likes to hover around 8,000 rpm in 3rd gear to do 60kph. will happily do 80kph at about 10,000 rpm and starts screaming at 12-14,000 rpm after that.

    Just like any kind of learning it's going to take time, I remember asking another rider when I was still on L's "What's the highest you've revved you bike to?"
    The answer was a raised eyebrow and a very confused "umm... redline"
  5. I back up what im.on.it said. Look for mentors in your area.

    There is a proposed learners ride to the spur on Sunday, maybe think about going along on that. With any luck, there will be a number of experienced riders as well who you can buddy up with. Get them to watch what you are doing and feed off their experience. Ask plenty of questions and remember that there aren't any stupid questions.

    Also look to mix up your riding. Dont just follow the same course. Go different ways, etc. Look at going on straights, bends, twisties, practice emergency stopping, counter steering.

    The longer you spend on your bike the more feel you will get for where you are at. When riding, you need to become one with the bike and that will come with time in the saddle.

    Good luck and stay sfe.
  6. I got chucked in the deep end!

    Pretty much sink or swim. Yep, my mates are assholes ;-)

    Saddel time is the key. You will get a lot of advise along the way. Some of it is 100% applicable, some of it is absolute garbage.

    Reason being, riding is a very personal thing, generally there is 1 or 2 ways that are correct but have different styles.
  7. Im also a pretty new rider. I have my bike for 2months now and covered about 4000k's on it. I mainly use it to commute to work and uni. I also had some time on my bike in the twisties and found it to be good fun and also learn the cornering speed. As you mentioned as well that you're not sure on the cornering speed. I had the same problem when I first went to the twisties. I found that the best way to learn for cornering speed is jus have someone lead at a stedy slow pace so you can get the feel for it. After awhile then you can ride abit faster knowing the speed and as ur skills improve.

    As for general traffic stops, intersections etc. The best thing to do is just go out and ride. When I went out and ride in peak hour for the first time I had no choice as I have to get to work and no other means of transport.

    Also if u're not sure about the habits or things you might not be doing right, I found that just give one of the mentors a pm. They'll b happy to answer your questions(no matter how stupid). They might even take you out for a ride if u have a free time that is the same as the mentors.

    Gdluck with ur riding....
  8. Practice, practice, practice and then some more practice. :wink:

    It will also help to do some courses and talk about riding with experienced and sensible riders who know what they're saying. The difference between them and morons who encourage pushing past limits can be difficult at first but you'll soon find people you trust that can provide good advice. The list of mentors on this site would be a good start for finding the right kind of advice. :)

    Time and experience is hugely important though. Don't rush it, the skills will come with practice so play it cool and enjoy your toy. :)
  9. You're on the right track...as everyone has said - there is no substitute for bum-in-seat time. That alone will fill in alot of the unknowns for you.

    Once you feel that you have reasonable bike control skills, it is time to rub shoulders with more experienced riders - asking heaps of questions, watching, listening, and just talking bikes in general.

    If you want, you can also contact one of the Mentors for more specific help with your riding skills. These guys, and other experienced riders, will be able to evaluate your riding, offer some corrective advice, and steer you clear of developing BAD habits.

    The Mentors can also give you tools, that you can use to judge for yourself just how your riding is progressing.

    It DOES take time, so don't rush it, or you will end up frustrated and hurt yourself. Keep a cool head - take things seriously and make a study of bike-craft...after a year or so...you will have developed a good group of skills that you will carry with you all your riding life - something that you can continue to build on.
  10. hmm, interesting question.

    i have an additional method for learning. i learn from other's mistakes or misfortunes. it's not to say that i don't make mistakes but reading other peoples incidences gives me things to ponder before i twist that throttle and whatnot.

    morbid, perhaps, and without sounding too callous as i don't wish misfortune on another, however, better them than me.

    make no mistake, motorcycling is fcuking dangerous! your life can change due to your carelessness or that of others whilst out on the road.

    as to how learner's learn? well, some tend to learn a lesson or two after.

    a typical noob, if you will:

  11. +1

    And read books, twist of the wrist is good as it gives you a better understanding of why visual skills are important
  12. Jdl, if you've never ridden before, then you're getting used to a whole other way of movement. Sounds like a redundant thing to say, but it's not.

    Saddle time is important to get the brain comfortable with moving without being confined by a cage, and it's important for the development of different motor skills to operate the basic controls.

    You want to get the basic controls part of the process to become automatic. You do not want to think about how to move your limbs to make a gear change, for example... you want to get to the point of think and it happens.

    No one has offered you bum advice IMO.

    My key suggestion would be one that Loz made (that was a really good post Loz by the way!), get yourself to a course, Stayupright offer a ripper intermediate skills course. This is a great idea so that when you are out on your own, you'll be practising "good" stuff from the get go and avoid bedding down bad habits at the basics level. It's even worth doing the course again much later on when you think you've got it all covered... you might be surprised!

    Some argue that these course go over a noobs head, but that's waaaay better than a noob trying to work out what to do from first principles because you are not a good reference point to asses your own riding.

    Like it says in the twist of the wrist books, riding pals will sometimes give you tips and sometimes give you advice.... mostly its all fine, but keep your ear tuned for riding technology (which is almost everything in TOTW and msgroups.org). Technology helps you understand yourself as a rider and the bike as a piece of equipment and putting the two together into practice and the skills will ramp up rapidly.

    Welcome aboard.

    Oh, get yourself down to a wesside coffee, monday nights, and talk crap with the rest of us.


  13. the hard way.... usualy with a bang.
  14. Thanks heaps for all the advice and responses guys. I figured my best bet would be bum in seat time! I don't buy into the mentality bandied about that everyone will drop their bike sooner or later. I'm trying to get out even for a short burst almost every day while i'm learning (so for the next few years! :grin:), to pick up skills and get more familiar with the controls.

    I'm actually quite comfortable on 2 wheels, and not scared of being so exposed at all, but want to keep that in check so i don't get overconfident! There seem to be alot of crash stories here too, which is actually quite helpful in learning what others have done wrong.

    Thanks again!
  15. Well touch wood that you have not just uttered famous last words.

    Get yourself to a wesside coffee!
  16. I practice my skills on quiet places where the environment is relatively controlled. Just ride within your comfort limits.
  17. I tend to ride around my own neighbourhood, which I know fairly well and it gives me the benefit of gettign to know the bike on the actual road, using the indicators, roundabouts etc, but all in fairly light traffic. I've been building up my confidence and taken the bike further out as I feel better.

    I still don't think there's anything better transport wise. Ok - maybe an F15 but I can't fly one of those, so it's a moot point really.

    Do everything at YOUR pace, and don't feel intimidated or pressured by anyone else to do anything you aren't comfortable with.
  18. look learn listen

    of course others mistakes are good fodder for learning, yours even better doing after listening best of all, relying on humans great,what about literature for one .Victoria has of course Victorian Rider Handbook,Discover Safe Riding,The Right Lane,and most invaluable of all Complete Idiots Guide to Motorcycles.Also I recieved a free dvd from TAC called Ride Smart.I think some of the training places in Victoria show this to you.If you want one of these goto www.spokes.com.au. I think they comp them to you in Vic if you get lplate.If you are out of state SORRY :cry: at least have a look at the TAC websight Motorcylists>Ridesmart>Tips From Fellow Riders
  19. pvt lssons

    dont forget MTA, HART etc all do lessons for about 50.00 an hour
  20. Forget the twisties for the moment, concentrate on bike skills, doing things smoothly and without thinking. Also concentrate on traffic skills and anticipating other road users.
    PRACTICE EMERGENCY BRAKING AND EMERGENCY COUNTERSTEERING DAILY! Until you can do it smoothly and without thinking about it.
    None of those skills are cool or sexy, but they WILL save your life more than once.
    Only when you are competent with the above, should you start considering advanced riding etc.
    Time and time again I see inexperienced riders posting about getting cleaned up in traffic when they were in positions they shouldn't have been in.

    Regards, Andrew.